So that other people won’t dob you in to your employer for things you write that might appear alarming, resulting in you being fired. Facebook “Walls” are public to anyone in your networks, they are not private at all, and this should be fairly obvious, honestly. That’s why they have the “Send a Message” feature, for when you really truly trooly reely only want the exchange to be private. The same goes for Twitter exchanges on unlocked accounts, especially since even if you’ve locked your account that doesn’t stop a follower re-tweeting something you’ve written in your locked tweets. That’s why Twitter has a Direct Message feature.
This is not rocket science, folks.
The media seem to be asking whether it’s “fair” that people’s behaviour online should be scrutinised by their employers. Why not, when customers/clients might find an employee’s comment through a search engine that could be a potential liability for the employer? Rules against disparaging co-workers seem an extremely sensible element of a workplace behaviour code, and extending that to comments made online seems entirely reasonable given how many people end up “friending” or “following” their work colleagues in cyber networks. Employers are probably, and with good reason, wary of cyberbullying through online networks ending up providing grounds for a harassment case based on a “hostile work environment” – nobody wants to be the first to get stung on that one.
While I find this woman’s expressions of support for an upset friend very human and understandable, so are lots of other behaviours that workplaces put limits on simply because they can disrupt the work environment e.g. horseplay, extended private chats, websurfing, fundraising etc. I also find other people’s reaction to her emotional response – to view it as a threat against the coworker – entirely understandable, and that made her remarks worthy of reporting. That she ended up deleting the comment from her Wall even before she was called in to work about it shows that she knew it wasn’t an appropriate remark to have made, too.
So, despite how most news reports appear to be angling for a “poor Caz!” response, I’m finding it hard to muster either much sympathy or much outrage. She said something inappropriate, and she didn’t take the moment of care required to restricts its dissemination using existing simple-to-use privacy features. Live and learn.