Any of us can make a mistake while using social media. It’s easy to tap out something on your snarkphone, er, smartphone, and later wish you had tapped out earlier. It’s also easy to inadvertently include your name and relation to your workplace when commenting on some websites.
In fact, that happened to Wick Digital Media Sales Manager Jim Keyes recently and he was kind enough to allow me to use his experience as an object lesson for the rest of us. Here he is in his own words:
I recently commented on a story in the local paper and really didn’t pay attention to the fact that Facebook sign-in postings show your personal information for all to see – with your title at your current position. More and more sites use the sign-in as their only procedure and not as an option.
A reader took this title representation on the site as me representing my company, Wick Communications, and was not happy that “Wick” was not characterizing his community in the best light.
Here are my lessons learned:
- To no longer post with FB sign-ins – as there does not seem to be a way to delete that title representation on one’s postings. This was misunderstood as a media company offering their official position on a topic – which was in no way my intention.
- Today’s world is so small and compact that one would never imagine an anonymous story comment could somehow get back to one’s employer. Pay attention to details. …
Jim’s a good sport and, as I say, we all need the reminder. I might add a couple of rules I try to live by: I Never type anything that I would be ashamed for my employer (or mother) to read. And I don’t make anonymous comments, ever. For one thing, we are not as anonymous as we think we are. If you have to register with an email address, someone can figure out who you are and your IP address is always floating out there. Plus, I don’t require anonymity. I am fortunate enough to live in a country that protects my right to free speech and smart enough to know that, while I may say what I want there may be consequences for the things that I say.
I want to take this opportunity to remind folks that Wick Communications has a social media policy, one that specifically governs how we conduct ourselves online. (You can find it beginning on Page 41 of the Employee Handbook, which is among the Human Resources links at wickcommunications.com.) More importantly, I want to urge everyone to remember common sense. When we wrote the social media policy more than four years ago, I announced it in the Kicker. I wrote at the time, “…it boils down to this: you represent your newspaper. For that reason, what you write at home may well follow you to work. So use your head. Apply common sense. And if you are unsure, ask a supervisor before you post.”
I still think that is pretty good advice.