Did You Know...
...That blogging about work can get an employee fired? Blogging, or "weblogging," is increasing in popularity worldwide. In the United States alone, there are approximately eight million Web sites categorized as blogs. These blogs are like public online diaries. The person who creates a blog entry (the "blogger") may write about a wide range of subjects. Businesses are also getting into the act as a form of grassroots marketing and a way to keep in close contact with their customers.
Employees who create blogs, however, should be aware that mentioning work in a blog, even anonymously, can be risky. Companies have been slow to create blogging policies (e.g., indicating what is or is not appropriate to blog about, whether or not an employee can use company time or resources to blog, etc.). Although blogging is rarely officially identified as the cause for employee termination, and a survey done by the Society for Human Resources Management reports that only three percent of companies surveyed reported disciplining bloggers, over 50 bloggers have stated that their blogs played a role in getting them fired. Most of the incidents reported were employees of companies in the United States, but a few international bloggers in the UK, Spain and Singapore have become vocal about their experience. One former employee of a software company who was fired for blogging even coined a term for it: "dooced." There have also been a few high-profile disciplinary actions taken against bloggers, including the NBA fining Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks for comments made in his blog.
In general, bloggers should use common sense. Many companies do have policies about the types of information you can share about the company with outsiders. Remember that blogs are not like diaries you can write in and stick under your pillow at night. They are public and globally accessible. Bloggers should be careful about comments they make about their day at work, the company, coworkers or customers.
Companies should also consider their philosophy and policies about blogging. Some companies, like Sun Microsystems, have embraced employee blogging, setting up servers for it and clearly outlining policies for using company blogs. Many of these companies require that employees post a disclaimer on their blogs indicating that what they post does not represent company views or opinions. Others include blogging in their list of banned internet activities. Even the blogging that employees do outside of work hours, using their own resources, should be considered. How will you address comments that are made about your company, its employees or customers?
Although being fired for blogging is still relatively rare, past incidents give employees and employers an opportunity to clarify what is and is not acceptable in the ever-expanding "blogosphere."
"Blogosphere." Wikipedia. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogosphere.
Cuban, Mark. "It Was Bound to Happen." November 6, 2005. Blog Maverick. Available at http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/5956308085341507/.
Cummins, H.J. "When Blogs and Jobs Collide, Bloggers Walk a Fine Line." August 4, 2005. Star Tribune. Available at http://www.startribune.com/stories/168/5542283.html.
"Dooced." Urban Dictionary. Available at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dooced.
Hopkins, Curt. "Statistics on Fired Bloggers." December 24, 2004. Morpheme Tales. Available at http://morphemetales.blogspot.com/2004/12/statistics-on-fired-bloggers.html.
Hopkins, Curt. "Bloggers and Employers Test Each Others' Boundaries." Unpublished article, January 20, 2005. Morpheme Tales. Available at http://morphemetales.blogspot.com/2005/01/blogfired-bloggers-and-employers-test_20.html.
"International Bloggers' Bill of Rights." January 5, 2005, edited July 7, 2005. The Bloggers' Rights Blog. Available at http://rights.journalspace.com/.
McCullagh, Declan and Alorie Gilbert. "FAQ: Blogging on the Job." March 8, 2005. CNET News.com. Available at http://news.com.com/FAQ+Blogging+on+the+job/2100-1030_3-5597010.html?tag=st.num.
Weiner, Eric. "Firings Raise Questions of Blogger Freedoms." January 19, 2005. National Public Radio. Available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4458522.