THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK – THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF FACEBOOK
The next time you’re about to upload pictures of your birthday party/night on the town/apres football match bash/you having a good time after six pints of lager onto your Facebook profile think carefully before you click. Although we all use Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or other social networking sites to keep in contact with friends, mates and family, remember these are not the only people who can see them – and you’d be surprised at just who can view your profile.
Hot on the heels of the news story detailing how Essex office worker Kimberley Swann lost her job because she described it on Facebook as ‘boring’ comes evidence that firms are cracking down on workers who misuse the internet during office hours. ‘Employers are not prepared to tolerate misuse of the internet generally, but especially in the current climate,’ says employment law partner Mark Hatfield. ‘With businesses struggling and redundancies rife every job and every hour counts. Staff who idle away on the internet are wasting valuable time which should be being deployed to maintain company efficiency and productivity. To enforce proper IT use, it is critical staff are told exactly what the company internet policy is so no one is in any doubt about its importance and what the punishments are.’
But problems with your Facebook profile can begin even before you get a job. Apparently,more than 360 British universities search for applicants online, carrying out free background checks on applicants via online searches; checking their social networking sites, reading blogs they have commented on, and looking at pictures they have uploaded onto the web.“These statistics highlight how important it is for people to monitor their online reputation and be aware of what image they are portraying on the net. It is no longer enough for a student to have straight A’s and strong reports, if they party every night of the week and write inappropriate comments on a blog, they could be hindering their future opportunities,’ says Steffen Ruehl, CEO and Co-Founder of yasni.co.uk used by both Oxford and Cambridge to do checks on prospective applicants.
Meanwhile, in the work place it is not just recent grads who are abusing internet access at work; even more senior staff do it. ‘Staff who idle away on the internet are wasting valuable time which should be being deployed to maintain company efficiency and productivity,’ Says Mark Hatfield. In order to stop this happening, Lloyds TSB, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse have all banned the use of Facebook during office hours. Mark Hatfield believes rules covering internet use should be written into all company policy. However, until that happens, here are some rules (courtesy of Jenny Ungless, Monster career coach) every employee should follow to keep out of trouble.
- Be smart about what you write online. If you want to write negative comments, make sure they’re justified or within reason, don’t come across as a negative person.
- Be careful what you write about yourself. Don’t draw attention to bad behaviour for all to see.
- Don’t be caught out by pictures posted online. Don’t call in sick the day after your birthday if your friends are likely to post incriminating pictures of you the night before.
- Separate business from pleasure if necessary. Use social sites such as Facebook for friends and add colleagues to professionally-geared sites such as LinkedIn.
To these Real World would add:
- Never, ever be stupid enough to view or download pornographic images on your work computer during office hours – no explanation for why not needed.
- If you’re unsure about company rules about internet access at work ask for clarification. For instance, they may stipulate that you only send emails to friends while on your lunchbreak.
- Funny/joke round robin emails may amuse but they’re not work! Only circulate them to your entire address book out of office hours.
- THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK. Does the world really need to know what you had for breakfast, who John was dissing round the water cooler yesterday, or who you had a snog with last night? Sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour.