Facebook, your life, and your job
Facebook makes some people nervous because some of us share too much. We’re too honest, too candid in a space that blurs the distinction between public and private.
People make plenty of mistakes on Facebook:
- Ask Bobby Bland and his former co-workers, who were all fired from the Hampton, VA Sheriff’s Office for liking the opponent’s campaign page. U.S. District Court has ruled that Facebook likes are not protected speech, but law experts interpret “likes” as speech and the defendants plan an appeal.
- Ask Kimberly Hester, whose off-color, after-hours picture on Facebook led a parent to report Hester to school officials and to Hester’s suspension from her job as a teacher’s aide.
We make mistakes on Facebook just like we make mistakes in every other place in our lives. So when I read about employers dismissing employees for liking their campaign opponent or posting a photo that offends an unintended audience, I sigh, shake my head, and start a blog post. Judges, lawyers, legislators, and even Facebook itself may have to clarify the boundaries of public and private, legal and illegal for our communication via Facebook and Twitter. Congress has already tried to outlaw Facebook login requests by employers. Until we have rules, let’s do this instead:
- Be kind on Facebook. We are all learning how to communicate on Facebook together. The site is eight years old. How well did we communicate at eight years old?
- If an employer is so ham-fisted about Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn that they want our passwords to view our account and activity, let’s ask ourselves this: “Do I want to work for this employer, a company that does not trust me to act appropriately outside of work?”
- If it’s digitized, it can end up online. Just ask Brett Farve, Patrick Kane, or ESPN talent, staff, and executives. Let’s ask ourselves, “What do I value more: my right to self-expression or my job?”
What do you think about Facebook and your employer? Where do you draw the line on what you “like” and what you share? Share your answers in the comments. It’s okay if you make a mistake.