Hearst Magazines has urged its employees to inform their colleagues if they make “controversial” social media posts. This comes a month after the editor-in-chief of Hearst-owned Harper’s Bazaar published remarks about the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza.
On Wednesday, Hearst — which is also the parent company of Cosmopolitan and Town and Country — sent an email to its employees with details about the new social media guidelines. The mandate comes after divided opinions online about Israel, Gaza and Palestine following the October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
“We should carefully consider the impact a controversial statement on a sensitive issue could have on Hearst’s reputation,” the policy says. per report. The message encouraged employees to sign the document to confirm their understanding.
The email also asked employees to report colleagues who were not adhering to the policy or anything else that could potentially “affect the reputation or objectivity of Hearst Magazines.” According to the Washington Post, the union called the demand “a shockingly authoritarian flourish” in a statement.
In October, Samira Nasr, editor-in-chief of Hearst fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, said in an Instagram post that the Israelis’ move to cut off water and electricity to Gaza was “the most inhumane thing” she had ever seen in her life, sparking an uproar online and the company committed to donating $300,000 to area charities.
In response, a union representing Hearst employees called on workers Monday not to participate in the signing of the policy.
“Hearst employees’ union, Hearst Magazines Media Union, contacted Twitter about the new policy. Attention all Hearsties: today @Hearst Magazines have published a social media policy that restricts our speech on our private social channels. Don’t sign it! The @WGAEast The legal team is reviewing the matter and will be in touch to discuss what comes next,” the post reads.