Sunday, September 24, 2006

Be Careful What You Blog

What you do online can cost you your job. If you work for a medium or large employer, there is most likely someone in ISD who keeps track of any Web sites you visit while using your computer at work. There's a pretty good chance they employ someone like me, too.

I am paid a chunky salary to monitor consumer-generated media, such as blogs and message boards, for mentions of my employer's name. I report what I find to company leaders.
I keep hard copies of everything in my files in case a page is deleted after I've found it. If the blog or message board entry was posted by someone employed by or seeking a job with my employer, I send the information to human resources for investigation.

My work has made a difference in whether a person gets or keeps a job, or whether they get a raise or probationary status. It doesn't matter that the employee might have been blogging on their own time, using their own equipment. Even if what you said in your blog can't get you fired, it can still hurt your reputation at work, since what is shared with company leaders will be shared right on down to your department management if it's juicy.

Most people don't use their legal names in the blogs, but there's usually enough other information in the blogs to figure out who the person is if they are an employee or a potential employee (such as pictures in some part of the blog or information about co-workers or bosses). And a big company has the resources to investigate.

Even if your blog allows you to restrict access to friends only, there are search engines available that will show a savvy searcher like myself a blog entry in its entirety. I pity the person whose blog I discovered a few days ago, in which the blogger mentions his employer in one sentence and goes into great detail about his sexual escapades a few sentences later. The blogger had a big picture of himself next to it all.

So, if you blog or post to message boards, don't do it at work, and make sure there is no reference to your employer anywhere.

-Bob From Boise


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