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Internet Behavior

02/09/2011

While doing research for work, I came across a news article citing a recent ruling of the National Labor Board Relations. It seems that now companies are not allowed to discipline workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites. This is a big piece of news that many are going to be looking closely at.

My usual disclaimer – I’m not here to talk about my job or the company I work for, whom I am happy with and have no cause to criticize. I’m merely pointing out a piece of news, and in no way should this be taken as an attack on anybody.

What I want to share is one of the comments on the article. It’s some really wise advice on how to behave on the Internet.

While I agree with the NLRB ruling, I believe it would still be in the best interest of employees to be judicious in what they say about their employer(s)/boss(es) online.

I still don’t think that, in general, people understand that what you do online – pictures, blogs, Tweets, wall posts, emails, IMs, etc. technically exist forever on some server, somewhere. Doesn’t matter if you delete them, close the account, so on.

Being footloose and fancy free with your honest opinions about your boss, coworkers, employers, vendors, clients could easily come back to bite you the next time you try to get promoted, get a new position, meet with someone, and so on. Unless of course you can get paid to be that way online; I suppose it’s nice work if you can get it?

While there are legitimate greviances/issues/concerns we all have about our working lives, and whistleblowers shouldn’t feel a chilling effect from the duration of digital communication, it’s all too easy for someone to look at your online persona as the “true” you before they’ve even met the RL (real life) you. A comment made to blow off steam verbally/in a phone call can be taken a totally different way when it’s been retweeted/posted on a wall/texted to someone.

We’ve all seen the blatant drunkfail FaceTweet errors that are out there (and should know how to avoid them), but the last thing you want to hear from a potential client or company you want to work with is that you “aren’t a good fit, and thanks”…a decision colored consciously or unconsciously by what you’ve posted online regarding something going on in your career prior to your meeting someone new.

Caveat auctor!

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