We are big fans of social networking, yes, we Facebook while tweeting about the pinterests and we encourage you to use the social network in finding jobs, networking and yes, staying in touch with friends.
However, you have to be cautious about what you post on your social network as it may land you in trouble, if not used properly.
Consider the example of Lindsey Stone who was fired for her ‘offensive’ pose she posted on her Facebook. Get this, not only did Lindsey Stone (in the picture in that link) got fired but the employee who took the snap got sacked too.
That may be an extreme case, but if you look closely at the latest trends, companies have been updating their ‘social media’ policies to include ‘prohibiting’ employees from posting any ‘comments’ about the company.
Can they do that? You may ask.
National Labor Relations Act, Section 7, provides Employees right to participate in ‘concerted activities’. However, this right will not apply to anyone who is acting ‘solo’. If you are the only one to post something derogatory (or perceived to be disparaging), about your employer, co-workers, clients, race or any other sensitive matters, on your social network – that may get you fired.
Another interesting thing is that the ‘freedom of speech’ protects you from ‘government’ interference and does not protect you when it comes to private sector. In private sector, the agreement between you and your employer upholds. And this is why, Employers have started taking a serious look at their current social media policies and have been updating them to ‘discourage’ employees from posting any comments on social network that could defame or create a bad image for the company.
If you think you are safe since you have not added any of your company folks and that your social network comments are ‘safe’, you are wrong. If you have signed the agreement which also has social media clause – it doesn’t matter whether you have your company members as a part of your social media network or not – you could still be in trouble.
In another case, a bartender was fired due to her comments about a particular race. In this case, the business’s action may be justified as they are protecting their business’s image by showcasing that they care about all races. Again, if you think your freedom of speech is at stake, understand what your company’s ‘social media policy’ stipulates as ‘acceptable and not acceptable’.
Students are not exempt from the consequences of social network either, read the story of Austin Carroll who was expelled from school three months from his graduation due to his tweet. In another case, a student was expelled from college for his threat tweet to his professor (we don’t condone the student’s action though). As you can see, while Social networking helps you express your views to more and more people – it also opens the door of consequences, trade cautiously.
We are not saying that you shouldn’t express yourself but make sure you are cognizant about what you are expressing, how you are expressing, where you are expressing them and what your particular company policies are.