The other day I was ranting about privacy in the digital age. The public does not fully comprehend the potential positive or negative impact of cloud services on their lives; how the information they choose to share and store inside of those systems lives and dies; or how a data breach will affect their personal privacy. However, that is only part of the equation since it deals with a failure inside of one of these commercial entities. And let’s be honest about the situation here; these entities rarely screw up so the breach is usually in the form on an outside attack against them. Frankly, with how few breaches occur each year, I see it as a testament to their dedication and professionalism in treating their customers’ information with respect and a security-focused mindset.
More often than not, we do it to ourselves. We expose our own information to public scrutiny without hackers or bugs in the code. We breach our privacy by posting “dumb” things online. Usually in an agitated state, or inebriated one, but rarely with a clear mindset. It is so easy with modern smartphone technology and computers/tablets everywhere to post any and every thought online in a mere moment. Much like the words we speak, something posted online can never be really retracted.
Having an argument with a family member, friend, or coworker? Seriously think about the consequences before you lash out in a quick twitter or Facebook post. In a lapse of good judgment, let us say you do actually post something that is highly critical of a coworker, management, the company, or releases confidential information, what should the company do about it? Is it unreasonable to expect serious disciplinary action?
It is no secret that employers will check on-line profiles of potential candidates, and it is not uncommon for them to complete other reviews on a periodic basis and around promotions to make sure, employees are living up to all company guidelines and expectations. Do you really want to promote someone who does not represent the values of the organization with their highly questionable digital activity? Yes, people will invariably say that personal life and professional life are distinct and should not affect each other. I think that is a Utopian view that is not reality, and everyone should presume that their bosses are reading most of their on-line social media communications. No, I do not think that management is reading employees’ Twitter and Facebook feeds regularly. Who has the time? But would you really want to risk your next promotion on it? This is an area that some serious common sense needs to be exercised by everyone.
People need to present their public social media life in the way they would like their managers to see and experience it. Remember by lashing out in a discourteous/unprofessional manner at people or topics on-line, they may be hurting their career to a far greater degree than they even begin to realize.