Job Advice

Can you get fired from social networking?

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August 4, 2009

Facebook, Twitter and other social networking media have become extremely prevalent over the past year.  Many companies are encouraging their employees to utilize these media to promote their products and services.  Is this really effective?  What about the risks to the employees?

A friend who works for a Fortune 500 company recently encountered some issues when combining social networking sites with her job.  Her company strongly encouraged their employees to use Twitter and Facebook to promote their brand and products.  So when she was attending a meeting discussing a change in the materials of one of the company’s existing products, she got very excited.  A deck was distributed at the meeting which did not contain any confidentiality disclosures and the product launch team had mentioned that their competitors were already aware of the launch.  There was no indication that this was confidential information as even competitors and customers were aware of the change.  Plus, the change was scheduled to go live in less than two weeks so it was very imminent.  So my friend, as a dedicated employee who was excited about the change in the product, went to her Twitter account and tweeted about the change. 
A few hours later, my friend received a call from her company’s public relations office reprimanding her for tweeting on what they considered to be confidential information.  She was incredibly embarrassed and worried that this was going to impact her career.  Fortunately, my friend is a top performer who has received several promotions and has a reputation as an extremely ethical and hard working employee. 

Of course, there are the obvious tweets which employees should avoid such as stating negative information about your manager or company.  But what about cases such as this where there was just a miscommunication about the confidential nature of some information?  Does Twitter’s risks outweigh its benefits?