I admit it – I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
I log on in the morning to see what friends were up to the night before. I ask silly questions (recently, what was the name of the movie starring Ted Danson back in the 80s where Ted was buried up to his neck in sand – and I got the answer just a few moments later!), I post updates about my running, and I do a lot of responding.
I do, however, keep my private life fairly private. I don’t talk about my home life much, unless it is something as simple as “The girls slept in today, yay!” or “The parent conference went well!” I feel it is my duty to keep what happens in our home fairly private, as I wouldn’t want my family going onto the computer and posting personal things about my life.
In addition, I find it interesting when I read very personal posts on these social tools. It almost makes me cringe to see someone complain about a loved one, and I’ve noticed a growing trend lately among those posts and tweets and blogs I follow: The person is writing when they are supposed to be working.
This week, after reading another update from someone who I knew was at work but who was posting through their mobile phone during company time, I began to wonder about the consequences of social networking and the career. Social networking is still so new I think we are only now learning the future issues we may find by using this tool. All entries are timestamped, which means if you are typing when you should be working anyone can trace this back to you. In addition, the comments remain out there forever – so once you say you are hating your job today, while you are at your job, your employer may one day stumble upon this fact.
While these sites were designed to bring us all together – meet up with old friends, keep acquainted with coworkers and family members, remain in touch with people in high school (some of whom we don’t even really remember – or want to remember!) – I have to wonder if down the road we won’t find that it actually drives us apart.
Kurt Weyerhauser, managing partner at Kensington-Stone, an executive search firm that finds and evaluates and places senior management, says, “It use to be that our private and work lives remained separate with clear defining lines.” That’s not the case with the latest social networking tools.
Think about it – each night we can log on to find how many cows Junie lost from her virtual farm, how much time Joe spends playing certain games instead of hanging out with his family, and what Jessica fixed for dinner/read her kids before bed/drank before she retired for the night.
Do we need this much information about the people in our office? Probably not.
Weyerhauser also mentions that oftentimes people post complaints about things on Facebook: the weather, their kids, their spouse, their day. If someone continually posts these types of statements, we will regard them in a more negative light. If I am a manager reading these daily posts, will I consider them a postive or negative person? Would I want them rising up in the ranks?
He gives another example: A mother constantly gripes about how much work she has to do between her job and home. If a new position is becoming available and I’ve read every complaint she has about her life already, will I consider her for the next promotion? Again, the chances are slim to none. I may think, in fact, I am doing her a favor by passing her over since she is already overwhelmed as it is.
And what about using social marketing tools while at work? If you are posting during the hours you are supposed to be dealing with customers and clients, does the employer have the right to reprimand you? Most likely.
Says Devjani Mishra, labor and employment attorney at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, employers must be vigilant about their employees’ use of tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube at work, given, ” . . . not only the loss of productivity and the risk on their systems, but also the risk of vicarious liability for discrimination, defamation, copyright and trademark infringement and many other violations that an employee may commit by posting content, whether intentionally or not.”
Think about it: You access You tube during office hours on the office computer and the computer ends up with a virus. Now you’ve not only potentially damaged the computer but possibly opened up the (at times confidential) files on that computer to potential exposure to an outside source.
In addition, if you are supposed to be working and you are facebooking or twittering something to this effect, “Sure hate it here, wish I were outside,” and your employee sees this statement, and that you are not working when you are supposed to be, you are setting yourself up for losing a job.
I feel the proliferation of social media and easy access to this social media from anywhere (ie: mobile phones that access the web) make it too easy for some to forget the risks of utilizing these tools.
Whatever you put out on the web is searchable and viewable by all, for the most part, and this should be remembered before any post is made. While you may not think about it at the moment you type in your statement, you should be considering how your employer might feel, or what this post along with others you make says about you, before you hit submit.
There have been cases where people have been fired due to the content they’ve posted online (and I will be blogging about this in a future post). There have also been cases where people have posted confidential information regarding a certain person or issue and these people have then been sued for sharing this information.
Chances are, if you would not say something to someone at work while talking to them, you probably don’ t want to post it on your site for all to see.
How do you think social networking might effect us over time? Do you see it as a plus or a negative in our lives, or do you think, when used correctly, it can be a neutral and fun tool?