Will my Facebook posts come back to haunt me?

Friday September 25 2020
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Caroline Mboijana

By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline, 
I’m an opinionated person online. I comment about things in the news, political landscape and other issues. Recently, we signed a number of agreements at the office mainly about what we post online and how it may reflect on the company. Is the company trying to curtail my freedom of speech? Is there a possibility of them looking up my social media activity before considering a promotion? Lydia.

 
Hello Lydia,
In this day and age, social media platforms are the platforms where the audience learn, are informed and have access to content that informs opinion and perceptions. In this day and age your social media activity is designed to be visible both publicly and privately and, therefore, it is impossible to not leave a digital footprint of your activities. Social media usage raises the question of what you consider private and personal communication and if that aligns with your employers’ policies.

Over  the years, the boundaries have become blurred and increasingly, employers are expecting employees non-work social media activity to meet their corporate guidelines on what is considered to be acceptable behavioural standards. This is because employees are considered to be an extension/representative of the company and are supposed to behave in a conduct that is fitting to the company’s values.

 Many professionals view social media as an extension of their work email and the structures that apply there, with some using private social media behind strict privacy settings or closed groups. It’s for this reason that many employers are developing policy that protects their brand and image. I don’t believe employers want to have access to your social media account that would be both wrong and unethical. 

It is important to understand that we only have one thing we can control and that this the picture that we build of ourselves in the digital space when we use social media. While you are entitled to have opinion, it’s  important to consider what the optics are when sharing views and opinions that, for example, initiate racism, sexist material, strong political views etc. Because they can have an impact on the perceptions that current and future employers may have. A social media post is more than just a private rant at the staff canteen with a few colleagues. It is global from the moment it is posted. 

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director,
The Leadership Team (U) 
cmboijana@gmail.com

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