links for 2008-11-01

  • After recently arguing that bosses shouldn't ban Facebook – THIS is one major why they do, and you can understand why. You always represent the company you work for (and the friends you have and the family you hail from). Calling your customers 'chavs' and bitching about them is going to get you fired.

  1. Yes, that was an interesting case. I think the response from Virgin was pretty much spot on: Facebook’s fine, but don’t sound off about work or be rude to customers. If there’s a problem, raise it through internal channels.

  2. andrewlewin

    It does raise some interesting questions though, such as: are staff accountable to their employer 24/7? Is there no such thing any more as ‘personal time’ when you’re not representing your employer?

    More specifically with the general issue of expressing a view, what does it mean for public sector workers? If we, as civil servants, have a different view on a government policy, would expressing it anywhere and any time be a sackable offence? And how would this square with human rights/freedom of speech legislation?

    Interesting issues, as ever with this sort of new emerging technology.

  3. I don’t think it has anything to do with Facebook, social networks generally or even the web though, does it? It doesn’t matter what medium someone uses, if they slag off customers or their bosses then they get disciplined. In fact, using the web makes it easier to catch people at it, so if anything employers should be encouraging it!

  4. andrewlewin

    I think you manage to change your argument midway through! It DOES have something to do with Facebook/SNS purely because these things are far more networked, they’re ‘permanent’ in a way that water cooler gossip isn’t, and people aren’t used to them – so they get caught out by employers finding them and taking action. Would a company have acted against staff for talking like this on a cigarette break? No. They wouldn’t have known about it and, if they had, there would have been nothing material to prove it. So Web 2,0 is the difference here.

  5. This is such an important question, and I wish it wasn’t just being debated in comments on blogs here and there. It seems like the only way we’ll find the answers to them is through precedent – which could be at the cost of people’s jobs. For now, perhaps it’s safer to assume that the answer to Andrew’s Q: “If we, as civil servants, have a different view on a government policy, would expressing it anywhere and any time be a sackable offence?” is probably YES. The transgression of civil service code would possibly trump the human rights/freedom of speech angle: in that we, as *identifiable* civil servants, can’t go public with our political views. (Luckily for me, I’m pretty agnostic).

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