Or Be Careful What You Say On Facebook!

Social sites are constantly shifting, changing and updating. View any trend analysis site and the graph is showing the constantly rising visitor rate especially for big community sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

You cannot afford to ignore the trends but neither should you jump in without a good plan. You need to be cautious before you post any content on the web especially if you are a business, but also as an employee.

This was brought home to me on a personal level twice. First when my nephew made unguarded comments on Facebook, agreeing with a friend's negative comment made about their boss and was fired. The boss wasn't even named!

Then my son joined a group on Facebook which was started by a workmate. This group was the opposite of a fan page and was let's say, less than positive, about the company they both worked for. They were also fired!

It's easy to say companies should ignore such minor infractions and accept the fact that people will get frustrated or be annoyed about something at work and then go into a social site such as Facebook and vent. But the web is a published document, there for all time, not just a few words soon forgotten.

Had either of them been in the pub at the time talking, this wouldn't have been an issue (unless the boss was standing just behind them listening). Facebook is like the pub to most people. They let their guard down there, they chatter and gripe in text just as if they were relaxing after work over a few drinks.

We ant freedom of speech - June 20 Iran electi...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

I don't know where this will go. It's hard on the boys who have had a sharp lesson in why keeping their mouths shut (especially on the web) is a good policy. At the same time, it's like the right to free speech has been taken away and Big Brother really is watching everything we do and censoring it violently.

Keeping a good reputation online is going to get harder and harder. For companies trying to keep negative comments off the web and for kids who haven't learned to hold their tongues yet. Lawyers will be scrambling to update libel laws to keep up, while enforcement agencies pick their battles between genuinely disgruntled customers and people out to cause trouble for competing companies.

Companies are going to need extra staff uploading new positive content and staff to keep an eye on where their brand is being used in inappropriate ways.

Nothing has really changed. Any freedom comes at a price, including freedom of speech. If you wish to exercise it, you take the consequences. It's just another thing to consider in our increasingly complex world. Sigh...

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