There have been many articles over the past couple of years telling you to watch what you say online. The same holds true for who you associate with. Your Facebook, My Space, Blogger, etc. pages are burned into the archival powers of the Internet for years to come. You are leaving footprints every step of the way. Many have warned that this information may be used against you when applying for jobs. And that is true – I know hiring managers that will do a quick Google on your name before hiring you (note to self: take down picture of me & Michael Phelps).
We are starting to see incidents of companies disciplining employees for their online behavior. Offending postings don’t have to be made on your employer’s computers or networks and they may well be made during your personal time. While you may think the constitution protects your freedom of speech, it only does so to the extent that the government won’t stop you from expressing yourself. If the private sector takes umbrage with your words, they are free to dole out the discipline. It would be just like dis’ing your friend – he wouldn’t be pleased, why should your employer be any different?
A recent article expoesed this phenomenon in the world of journalism. A reported had sent ‘Friend’ requests to managers so that they would join his Facebook page. Only, they weren’t really his friend. In fact, one turned him in for his ciriticism of the company. A News Media Guild representative summed up the situation:
“We have seen about six Facebook problems over the last two months, with employees — maybe managers you have as friends — reporting potential issues to management,” union guild chief Kevin Keane wrote in a memo to union members last week. “You must be careful who you allow on as friends.”
To take it a step further, you need to really be aware of the friend of a friend concept and not put anything negative out on these social networks. I know you still will, but I at least warned you.