Most reasonably intelligent people in this world go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with their workplace superiors. It’s only common sense. Whether this is accomplished by way of hard work, a kind and courteous demeanor, an all-pro attitude, or a combination of all three – you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would suggest behavior to the contrary.
Why is it, then, that there are so many people out there who are clueless as to the negative impacts that can come from trash-talking their boss or the company they work for on Facebook or Twitter?
The New Reality – Social Media Isn’t Private
For as savvy as people are these days about finding old friends online or uploading pictures of the kids for the cousins to see, there’s still one big truth that many seem to miss out on. Social media isn’t private. At least it’s not as private as most of us like to think – and unless you take measures to ensure your privacy, it could be very simple for everyone in the world including your boss to learn exactly what you think about your job when you’re off the clock.
Also impacting your ability to earn a living is the fact that many employers these days are extending their pre-employment checks to include social media profiles. And if they see something that they don’t like or that would cause concern over your ability to do a job (like the mention of recreational drug use, for example) it could cause you to lose out on a big opportunity.
When you absolutely have to climb up onto your social media soap box to vent your frustrations about your employer, consider implementing a few (if not all) of the following tricks. Not only can they help conceal your identity – all the better to protect you from the possibility of on-the-job retribution – but it’s also not a bad idea in general to safeguard yourself against the dregs of society who would seek to do you harm out of the meanness of their hearts.
- Don’t use your real name. It’s easy to forget that long before the advent of Facebook, it wasn’t very common for people to broadcast their full identities online. The use of “screen names” or “handles” seems to have gone the way of the 90s, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow along. Most social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, let you use pseudonyms to protect your privacy.
- Refrain from posting photos of yourself online. If you’re concerned about privacy, the last thing you want to do is let a headshot of yourself be the dead giveaway that tips your boss or co-workers off to the fact that you’re the person behind the “fight the power” rants. Consider instead the use of landscapes, inanimate objects, or animals – but never use the image of another person unless you have their consent.
- Tweak your security filters. The issue of privacy on Facebook is an enormous one, and despite the barbs and accusations hurled at the purveyors of the biggest social networking site the world has ever known, they haven’t done a bad job of giving you tools to work with to keep your stuff private without blocking out the entire world. Before you go off on a tirade about what a horrible person your boss is, make sure that he can’t see what you’re saying about him if he decides to take a peek around.
What Are Your Rights?
The good news is that there are people out there fighting for your right to say pretty much anything you want about your employer on any social media platform, without fear of losing your job. For example, there are a number of states that already have laws on the books that prohibit employers from asking for the social media profile passwords of job applicants.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has also made numerous rulings ordering the reinstatement of employees who were terminated from their jobs for speaking out against their employers. However, the majority of these have been instances where workers were fired for speaking publicly against company policy that infringes on employee rights. What this means is that if you lose your job for saying you want to take a torch to your place of employment, don’t expect the NLRB to step up to the plate for you.
A Few Smart Words of Advice
The fact remains that there are many fates worse than (if not just as bad as) being axed for speaking out publicly against your employer. Chief among these fates can include earning a reputation for having a bad attitude, which isn’t exactly the best thing to have if you’re hoping for that coveted raise or promotion. What’s more, cases like these are a lot harder to prove if you decided to file an official beef by way of lawsuit.
In the end, what it all boils down to is choosing your mediums smartly. If you’re passionate about workers’ rights, for example, and you genuinely feel that the company you work for is guilty of violating these rights, think about the venue that you choose to try and affect change. If you’re still convinced that venting about it on social media is the best way to do that, either avoid using language that can be seen as offensive or threatening, or take steps to shield your identity.