Personal Blogging & Public Transparency

We’ve been hearing stories of bloggers who have lost their jobs for writing entries that their employers decided were inappropriate. Had these people been diarists rather than bloggers, it wouldn’t even come up, but blogs are out there for everyone to see. I suspect blog entries will continue to create new questions, problems, and anxieties for companies, just as e-mail and IM did a few years ago and faxes did way back when.
New means of communication are coming faster than ever (and going, too: faxes and memos are practically obsolete in today’s business world). Employers would do well to stay ahead of the curve by using all communication means at their disposal (and don’t forget the low-tech original: face-to-face) to remind everyone of the workplace rules. And then consistently enforce those rules if you want them to stick.
The whole issue takes me back to a basic principle in employment law – not necessarily grounded in a particular law or statute but one of common sense: the more public your organization or the more public your role, the more careful you had better be in what you may think is your private life. If you or your organization are in a public or sensitive role and you want to reflect on your personal, private thoughts, keep a diary, write it down, lock it in your closet or under your bed. Don’t blog it.

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