You may never be off the clock when on social media

by Carl Natale on June 27, 2011

Probably my biggest takeaway from Friday’s Social Media Breakfast was the realization you are going to become journalists. Or at least be held to held to a pretty high standard when it comes to social media.

I know this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with social media in highly regulated industries. But many presenters made the point that regulations were just the baseline. We’re subject to much more stringent standards from our customers and employers.

That’s not a new concept to me. News organizations have been working on social media standards on journalists for a while. In a nutshell, these are considered best practices:

  • Share content that drives traffic to the news site.
  • Do not debate the readers
  • Do not damage the news organization’s reputation in anyway
  • Do not editorialize – even when using a private account.

Note these standards apply to any activity that a journalist does. Even when using private accounts on computers at home. Journalists always are representing their employers and need to watch what they do.

What does this have to do with you – the average social media user who never has worked for any publication or broadcaster?

According to J. Trevor Hughes, president  and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), that standa

rd is becoming very common. The distinction between private citizen and employee is disappearing in more industries.

Employers want their people to proudly represent their workplaces. Until they do something online that can reflect upon the employer.

In other words, can you get in trouble at work for what is published on your private Twitter account?

There’s a chance. Depends on your contract situation and labor law.

Welcome to my world

Actually I’m a recovering journalist. I don’t have an employer imposing restrictions on what I post, tweet or update. But I do have customers, prospects and audiences who judge me based upon my social media activity.

Fragile Truth

Will social media reveal all our Fragile Truths?

That’s fair. I choose to represent myself.

But do I represent the people I work for? Whether I’m a contract worker or employee, there’s a chance someone is monitoring me and judging if I’m appropriate.

And you too.

Which seems kind of fair. For more than a decade, I’ve been hearing that the Internet is making everyone a publisher. And then there’s the debate about who becomes a journalist. It looks like the people who are signing checks are imposing some journalistic standards.

Is it fair for employers to monitor their employees and prospective employees? Good question. But it’s becoming common. So it looks like we’re going to have to behave.

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