Did you know that your employer can legally require you to turn over your Facebook password? That is unless you live in California or Illinois. Early this month, new laws went into effect in those state prohibiting companies from engaging in that practice. But for the rest of us, all they have to do is ask.
Why would a company ask for it? Social media have become so pervasive and potentially damaging that companies strive to aggressively protect themselves from slander, disclosure of trade secrets and malicious posts. Your company should have a policy governing what you can and cannot post on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Instagram, etc. accounts.
People often mistake the nature of social media and think it is private, personal and anonymous. Some of us equate a Facebook post with a note passed in high school class. It’s all good unless the teacher intercepts it and reads it aloud to the class. We should realize, however, that the reality of posting on social media is like the contents of that note being published on the front page of every newspaper in the country.
What you post becomes part of the permanent record of the web. A bank recently posted a job listing for information technology specialist. Several applications came in. The HR department reviewed them, then checked the web for Facebook, Twitter or other postings. One person had posted that his mission at work was “to do as little as possible and just get through the day.” The CIO instructed HR to inform him that, if he came in for an interview, his Facebook comment would be discussed. He never came in. The CIO commented that young people especially, do not realize that on-line activities become part of your professional profile and will stay out there for a long, long time.
If you post material or comments that are prohibited by your employer’s Social Media use policy, you risk disciplinary action, even termination. Consider this case from Buffalo, NY.
After Lydia Cruz-Moore told Marianna Cole-Rivera that she planned to discuss her concerns about employee performance with the Executive Director of Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc. (HUB), Ms. Cole-Rivera posted:
Lydia Cruz, a coworker feels that we don’t help our clients enough at HUB. I about had it! My fellow coworkers how do u feel?
Four co-workers responded, all on their personal computers and on their own time. The employees generally objected to the assertion that their performance was substandard. Ms. Cruz-Moore complained to HUB management about the posts, and on the first workday after the Facebook posts, HUB fired Ms. Cole-Rivera and her four co-workers. The Executive Director of HUB justified the terminations on the ground that the posts violated HUB’s zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment. http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/nlrb-sides-with-employees-fired-over-fac-84243/
This has happened over and over again, to people in positions from new hire to senior executives. More and more, companies and organizations monitor any posting that may reflect poorly on them.
What you post can have long-term repercussions. Remember, whatever you write on the web stays on the web and may be seen by the world. So, think twice… or even three times before you hit that post button!