Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Facebook Folly

Folly: Lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight; a foolish act or idea.

I often post articles or blogs about using social media. I advise against posting inappropriate content, using foul language, linking to information or sites which are not a good fit with your brand…..all of the above. I know that social media can be a good thing and a terrible thing and that the user must take responsibility for what he or she posts.

Because…..there are consequences.

One such consequence occurs when a potential employer takes into account what they read and see on facebook. I recently spoke to a gentleman who said that he actually asks his employees for facebook username and information. Now……a little part of me was suspicious when he said that. It was said with an undertone of bravado and I wonder if he was simply telling me this because he knew that it would sound controversial and keep the conversation moving. Regardless of whether his statement was fact or fiction, it raises an interesting point.

I asked why…..”why does he ask for that information and what type of content would he be looking for?” The answer was simple: He wanted to know what type of character his employee demonstrated. A facebook page filled with endless party photos and foul language speaks volumes to their character, and raises a potential red flag. This wasn’t the type of individual he wanted working for him.

This particular person with whom I was speaking was very “anti-facebook” and social media in general. I asked him, “why not simply have a social media policy and have new hires sign off on the policy?”. For someone who felt that strongly, he should have a policy in place so that he had recourse in the event that an employee coloured outside the lines of decorum.

After having the conversation with this Negative Nelly, I realized that he was a bit of a blowhard and not tech savvy enough to seek out the damning information even with the user identification. He didn’t want to entertain the notion that a social media policy would be helpful and frankly, I don’t think he even knew what I was talking about. He shouldn’t be playing in the Social Media Sandbox.

But apparently he was………and his assumption that facebook was the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse had made him determined to be the judge and jury of content.

So who is right? Should the employer have the right to check out employees? I don’t know the answer to that and probably the legal system will be tested many, many times in the future as it tries to answer that very question.

I do know that you must be careful and aware of what you post on a social networking site, that it may come back to haunt you. If you are in doubt about whether or not something is appropriate, then do the “would my Grandma like it if she saw this?” test. It works every time!


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