I have always been careful with my comments and postings on Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Although I did have a Friendster and MySpace accounts and both are quite inactive so I don’t really worry about them. However, as these sites become more popular, employers are getting concerned about how much their employees spend company time interacting with friends and colleagues through them.
I read on the Metro today while on my way to work that Social Sentry has entered the picture to allowing employers monitor their employees’ activity online which includes Facebook and Twitter for a fee. They are planning to add Youtube, MySpace and even Linkdin (the professional networking site) in the future.
NYTimes.com had an article two days ago speaking of the new service which could charge employers $2.00 to $8.00 per employee to automatically track their employee activity via these networking sites. I had a concern about that before when I asked my readers how their online reputations are. Putting yourself out there for the world to see may be a good thing if you want to be as famous as Lady Gaga. Entertainment business? Sure. Otherwise, if you have a career other than a radio or TV host, an actor or an actress, a fashion designer or an eBay Powerseller who owns your business and don’t report to anyone – fine. Do whatever you like online. You’re public property.
But if you’re a CEO or want to be one – I would suggest that you be careful with what you put out online. Pretty soon, these monitoring services will probably include blogs and remember, whatever you write or post online is there forever regardless if you delete the post or not because these posts are saved on servers that are probably archived and stored forever.
Do you remember the employee who griped about her job and her boss on Facebook not realizing that her boss is connected to her? She was fired. Or the woman who had an affair with her married boss and posted it online resulting termination for both of them. Ouch!
Human Resource departments have also started checking out social networks to check out applicants. 45% of employers are now using social networks to check out prospective employees and 22% say that they did not offer a job to potential hires because of what they’ve found on these networks. Provocative photos, drinking and drug use are mostly the reason why but don’t be fooled. If you bad-mouth a previous employer or colleague, that could pose a threat to your being employed as well.
The question remains however, will these programs include blogs in the future? Most people I know use their blogs to express themselves purely to share their own feelings and air it out in public. Well, putting it out in public is the issue. If they come and haunt you in the future, there’s not much recourse for you to go by and say that it is an invasion of privacy. Putting out your words online is pretty much giving authority to the public and it becomes almost but not always, public property.
So, readers? Take a look at what you’ve posted online and be careful. Facebook and Twitter may be fun tools to use to interact with friends and colleagues but always keep in mind the repercussions when you feel the need to vent.