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Things to remember while on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.

The Guild is launching a series on living and working with social media. This first post provides tips on best practices for employees navigating the world of social media. In future posts, we’ll look at issues for editorial employees involved in social media as part of their jobs and on their own time and in their own name; tips for on-air and prominent employees; and tips for media freelancers.

As an employee, you have some obligations to your employer that don’t always end when you leave the workplace. At the same time, it’s in your interest to keep your life outside of work your own as much as possible.

Here are some things to remember when you post to your favourite social media site (even if you’re in the privacy of your own home, on your own time and using your own personal account):

– Don’t badmouth your employer or colleagues. The BC Labour Relations Board recently found that the ?walled garden? of Facebook is not private. Everything you post on Facebook or Twitter is considered public, even if it’s just between friends, and you may be subject to discipline for comments that appear to affect your ability to do your job (ie. ?I can’t work with that idiot, so-and-so? or ?I’m so bored/tired/sleepy/frustrated with work?). Don’t even joke about it: the internet is the place irony goes to die. The same is true for Twitter and any other site.

– Avoid being Facebook ?friends? with your boss. The Guild recommends that you avoid friending your supervisor and/or manager on FB. You’re not friends, you’re in a power relationship. It’s not really necessary — or advisable — to expose the details of your private life to your boss in real time. If using FB is important in your work team, set up a work account.

– Don’t identify your employer on your personal FB, twitter or blog. Yet another strategy to avoid blurring the line between your personal life and your work. And it gives you some protection against potential claims you are exploiting your employer for your own gain.

– You can blow the whistle on unethical behavior, but not on Twitter (or any other site.) Public criticism of your employer is risky business; you have a duty of loyalty under the law. If you have a concern about something that’s going on at work, talk to a union rep about how best to resolve it. If you’re bothered about the way your employer is handling something, don’t vent online.

– Don’t release info about your employer that isn’t already public. If it’s not your job to make public announcements, don’t make them. You can get into trouble for revealing ?proprietary? information.

– Your work computer is your employer’s property. Don’t assume that what you do on that computer (or mobile device) is private, even if you’re using a non-work account. It’s company equipment and the company can monitor your computer use. (At CBC, the collective agreement says employees can expect respect for their personal privacy and a workspace free of surveillance, unless management has a legitimate reason to monitor you.)

Do you have questions not answered here? Other thoughts on the points covered? We’d like to hear from you and will update these tips from time to time. Write to Karen Wirsig (karen@cmg.ca), send a tweet @karenatcmg or call 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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