By the end of 2013, said the analyst house, half of all companies will have been asked to produce material from social media websites for e-discovery needs, so enterprises need an overall governance strategy for all applications and information used on social media platforms.
"Social media content is like all other content that is created by companies and individuals and is subject to the same rules, laws and customs," said Gartner analyst Debra Logan.
"Policymakers need to keep policies simple when it comes to what should and should not be done online. A good rule of thumb is that whatever the company code of conduct is for in-person encounters, and whatever the rules are for general good behaviour and common sense, those rules should apply in the online world as well," Logan said.
Logan said the legal landscape around social media "remains a patchwork", due to overlapping, conflicting and contradictory laws and regulations, and procedural rules propagated by national and international legislative and regulatory bodies. "Since there is no guarantee of absolute safety, the safest option is to have a consistent policy and apply it consistently," said Logan.
Gartner does not expect there to be any clear guidance from courts or regulators in the near future on social media compliance rules.