Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Private or Public Communication?
By Doug Lacombe
(CANADA) Attendees at my social media seminars often ask how to keep business and personal separate in social media.
The older they are, the more likely that question comes up. It's generational angst on the death of privacy. They seem unaware that privacy is virtually dead already.
The only privacy filter you can trust is the one in your head. If you don't want something on the web, on the news or spread around the office, don't say or share it. No amount of reassurance will convince me Facebook or any other social network has the privacy settings right. As a result, I assume everything I say and do on the Internet is on the public record.
This collision of the private and public is causing some consternation in the workplace.
The International Bar Association (ibamedialaw.wordpress.com) recently blogged: "Experts have stated that 'the intersection of social media and the office is a potential minefield," creating numerous possibilities for a wide variety of lawsuits. A manager 'poking' an employee on Facebook might give rise to a sexual harassment claim. Or perhaps an employer may rescind a job offer to an employee after learning via Facebook that the applicant is of a particular religion or sexual orientation."
Granted this is the litigious U.S.A. we're talking about here, but it's true in Canada, too. A little over a year ago I served as an expert witness in a case where a group of workers who harassed a co-worker, both in person and on Facebook, were fired. They claimed their communications on Facebook were private. I was able to dispel that myth, leading to the case being settled. In that case the employer prevailed, but in the absence of case law, that's increasingly uncertain.
original post here