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When you join a company, you relinquish certain rights. The workplace is not a democracy. Yet many people still think that their corporate email, their corporate computers and the data they use is “theirs”. Who owns that data? Well the answer is the company. Companies are concerned with data loss prevention. A company can fire you for mis-using company data, that is obvious. A company can fire you for portraying a poor image such as drunkenness, poor behaviour, saying negative or derogative things about your boss or company,  public displays of nudity, well I could go on about why you can be fired.

One example is a young woman who got fired from her job because she said she ” thought her job was boring. So she said so on her Facebook page.  Her employer, Ivell Marketing and Logistics of Clacton, U.K., gave her this update: “Following your comments made on Facebook about your job and the company we feel it is better that, as you are not happy and do not enjoy your work we end your employment with Ivell Marketing & Logistics with immediate effect” as stated in this CNET article, http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10172931-71.html

So the question is, can a company can fire you for your out of office activities, should they have the right to monitor your activity? Should an employee be required to register all their social media profiles with their employer so that the reputation of the company can me monitored? It would obviously make it easier to know if an employee is damaging the reputation of the company.

The biggest challenge Social Media plays for a company is damage to reputation. A silly yet powerful example of Social Media affecting a company’s reputation is United Airlines breaking a musician’s guitar and refusing to pay for it. The musician Dave Carroll had a YouTube hit with his song about the poor airline response to him (http://www.boston.com/travel/blog/2009/07/song_over_guita.html) This viral video caused reputation damage. So this is a bit different from an employee posting something, but it has the same end result, reputation damage.

So when you start a new job, you have to take a drug test, get a background check, so why not register all your social media profiles? What are the pros and cons? Is it to much “Big Brother” or is it becoming a relevant reality of doing business in the Social Media age?

Gary Bahadur

CEO KRAA Security,  baha@kraasecurity.com

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