Hearst is instituting a new social media policy that bans its employees, journalists on staff included, from expressing personal political opinions online. The news was shared publicly by the Hearst Magazines Media Union on Monday.
The updated policy requires that personal social media accounts not be used to express personal political views and that political posts (with a candidate or opinion) must first be reviewed by a supervisor before posting, an internal, confidential source told Fashionista. Those who do not follow the policy are subject to being fired or "disciplined." The policy also encourages employees to report their fellow coworkers for posts that feel too "inflammatory."
This all comes in the wake of Hamas' early-October attack on Israel and the country's ongoing assault on Palestine in the weeks since — events that have increased tensions, killed over 10,000 civilians in the Gaza Strip (per AP) and sparked nationwide calls for a ceasefire.
In mid-October, Samira Nasr, editor-in-chief of Hearst-owned Harper's Bazaar, issued a social-media apology for "deeply insensitive and hurtful comments," clarifying she had no sympathy for Hamas. This was after describing Israel cutting off power in Gaza as the "most inhuman thing" she has "ever seen" in a since-deleted post. An unnamed Hearst employee told Page Six Nasr was "fighting for her job."
There has already been professional fallout for employees voicing their opinions on the conflict online; Palestine Legal Senior Staff Attorney Radhika Sainath recently cited seeing "dozens of reports of firings — an exponential increase like nothing we've seen before." Employment lawyer Peter Goselin, who faced similar cases following 9/11, expects to see more repercussions in the following weeks, per The Cut.
Social media policies at magazines are fairly common, prohibiting employees from exposing internal affairs or publicly engaging in illicit behavior. Typically, when expressing opinions, careful employees can add a disclaimer that views are their own. However, the Hearst policy update is more restrictive, seemingly offering no room to express what's not approved, and the company's media union is discouraging employees from agreeing to it.
"Today, @Hearst Magazines released a social media policy that restricts our speech on our private social channels. Do not sign it! The @WGAEast legal team is looking it over and will be in touch about what comes next," the union posted on X (formerly Twitter) Monday afternoon.
Hearst's corporate office did not reply to a request for comment. The union's legal team commented that its review of the new policy is still underway. We will update this story as we learn more.