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February 23, 2005

Blog at Your Own Risk

You never know what might get you fired nowadays.

The candid world of blogging has bred a distinct playground for the blend of art and commerce. In it, one can dish on anything from his favorite fabric softener to his controlling boss to his latest interview -- for the audience of, well, anyone and everyone who has access to the Web. In this sense, blogging has become technology’s answer to the “reality” television craze: Supposed real glances into the lives of people who, through the process, are celebrated and scorned. But just as reality TV can bite you in the you-know-what, apparently so can blogging.

Case in point: A recent Google at-will employee was fired shortly after posting frank comments about his new employer on his personal blog, Ninetyninezeros. While the blogger was never given a clear reason for his termination, he suspects that his posts, which were read by 60,000 people on one day -- the blog’s record high for unique visitors -- were the culprit. While it isn’t clear right now what sensitive information was revealed (the posts have since been cleaned of this information), there are a few lessons to be learned here, as suggested by the blogger himself in his side of the story. 

This sobering situation begs a few questions: How candid should one’s blog -- whether personal or corporate -- be? And what say does a company have over an employee’s right to free speech? At first glance, I would assume the answer would be cut and dry: If I signed a nondisclosure agreement by my employer (standard procedure for hires), I am legally responsible for divulging any of the information indicated on that agreement, whether I revealed it electronically or otherwise. Whether the Google ex-employee adhered to any such agreement is unknown. Chances are, however, that if there were such a clear breach of contract, the blogger would have probably been given that reason when he was let go.

Whatever the case, I would agree with the blogger in suggesting that one should take the time to get to know his or her work environment, in all its political splendor, before making any claims. Also, I would suggest that the blogger really think before posting: Is revealing this information going to benefit you, and possibly others, beyond any harm it may bring to you or others? Moreover, are you 100 percent sure about the claims you are making? While it is important to shed light on criminal activity, for instance, it might not be as important to reveal that your employer is making poor business decisions.

While you may like to think of your blog as a personal diary, you need to be realistic about the fact that it is open to a wide array of people. Posting something online opens you up to the kind of scrutiny that writing something in a paperback journal does not.

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Posted by Maya on February 23, 2005 at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


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Well said. However, what happens when another employee posts a blog about one of their co-workers and then lets several of the other co-workers read it? I was a topic of a blog and was offended by what was wrote about me by another co-worker. Although she wrote the blog on her own time, the people at our work place read it and knew it was me. She was not fired although it was defamation of character and liable. I was transfered to another department(shortly after confronting the employee and letting my boss know,) under the premise that the chemicals I work with could potenially hurt my unborn child. This was not an issue until I made it known about the blog.

Posted by: Julie Clemons | Sep 2, 2005 5:28:08 PM

I cried this morning because I hate my job. My wonderful boyfriend told me to quit, and that he would support me while I looked for another job, (Should I marry him or what??!) I work at a non-profit that services the mentally disabled and that is entirely peopled by paperwork Nazi's. Not to mention that my supervisor has a hard-on to make me her personal servant. For example, while in her office, she asked me to go all the way up to my office to retrieve a phone number that was in her rolodex. So I go and bring her the fax number. She looks at me incredulously and tells me she can't use this. I looked up and replied, "Really? I thought you could." It's these petty little games that drive me insane! Please Monster, find me a job where people are decent human beings!! By the way, I'm making this specific enough on the off chance that my supervisor reads this and I get fired and can collect unemployment while I finish up my M.A.!

Posted by: Rahima | Jan 31, 2006 7:21:47 PM

In this situation, the runner posts(shows) an impertinent physical condition, while the others sink into the effort. At the conclusion of the journey(running) this runner shows an exceptional state of coolness, as if he had crossed(gone through) only some kilometres.

Posted by: starcycle | Jan 25, 2007 7:53:35 AM

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