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Shift Happens: When does an employee’s online behaviour outside the workplace cross the line?

daftandbarmy

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Topical....


No matter what unacceptable face they've been presenting on the internet, employees have a right to privacy​

You’re the owner of a private company. While perusing social media posts, you chance upon a photo of an employee clearly taken several years earlier. He’s smiling, beer in hand—and parading around in blackface. What do you do?

Disclosure: I have a past. You probably do, too. That past may have, say, involved wearing a Halloween party costume that seemed very clever at the time but today would be considered very unclever, indeed. (Not blackface. Still.) At that same party, you may have mixed with equally clever people, many of whom mined a similarly brilliant conceptual vein. At the time, no eyebrows were raised. As the clichéd disclaimer goes, it was the 1980s.

But it’s not any longer. Mores shift, and what is and isn’t acceptable evolves. Over time, language and symbols, which are never static, can become charged with reinterpreted meaning. Which brings us up to today: like a rusty WW2 grenade buried in a farmer’s field, an old photo posted online can potentially blow your life to bits. Right, Justin?

 

mariomike

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I bet social media is a leading cause of career suicide. I am thankful that in my younger personal and professional days that recording devices were not as prevalent back then as they are now.
 

Gunnar

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As the owner of a private company, I will make my own decisions on hiring and firing employees. If the employee is performing at or above spec, then I don't have to see the necropost from his past. If he's performing below spec, then I should have already taken him to task for that, and the necroposting is irrelevant. If I'm selling products catering to a black demographic and he sells and or deals with this demographic on a daily basis, I may have to reassess his employment in terms of his ability to sell/do his job with a triggered demographic, but always with a view as to how the company can benefit. No sales guy wants to crater his sales - can he delete the old photo himself? Is there a way around it? Are his clients sufficiently switched on that they don't panic over random photos on the internet?

I don't believe we should cater to those who make mountains out of molehills, because there is always another molehill. Letting the inconsequential stuff slide is the basis for rational discourse, trade and civilization. Picture it: "Oh yeah? Well you stole my chocolate bar in grade 2, so I'm going let this $400,000,000 deal go in the crapper." Yeah, that makes sense. Plus, what you said makes a lot of sense: we all have a past. Chances are, the more intelligent you are, the more egregious your thought crimes. Need we destroy your life simply because you had to learn some things the hard way? And in the process I lose a talented individual who drives my sales? And what about when they come for me for some as-yet unnamed problem from MY past?

I choose not to see the molehill.
 

Underway

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It's far far more common to torpedo your career with current posts. Posting obvious party pics, and then calling into work "sick" the next day. An image showing how you don't bother social distancing or wearing a mask at work in accordance with the local public health rules. Or my new personal favourite complaining about how the company doesn't protect you at work from COVID but having a huge Xmas rager with 30 people in obvious violation of public health rules.
 

daftandbarmy

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I bet social media is a leading cause of career suicide. I am thankful that in my younger personal and professional days that recording devices were not as prevalent back then as they are now.
Some of these are interesting!

19 Massive Corporate Social Media Horror Stories​

There are many ways to fail on social media, but when you're a big corporation, screw-ups go BIG.

 

Haggis

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My agency's social media policy is partially embedded in our code of conduct, which applies on and off-duty. That's in addition to a separate policy on acceptable use of Agency IT systems..
 
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