Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Be Careful What You Post on Your Blog

I often talk to young people about the importance of being sure that whatever they post on their pages on MySpace or Facebook or any other public social networking site can be seen by a prospective employer or current employer without running the risk of being passed over for a job or being fired from a job due to inappropriate internet material.

Yet, until I started reading “Blogging for Dummies” by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley, I hadn’t thought about the risks associated with thoughtless blogging.

As I blog myself, I can see that there’s kind of a tempting feeling of security that you’re really just “writing for yourself.” The fact that anyone in the world, literally, can read what a blogger has just written for himself or herself seems to fade into the background as we’re typing away on our keyboard.

Especially for young people starting out on their path through life, it is very important to realize that anything can be taken the wrong way. I’m not saying you can’t have controversial opinions. I’m saying that it’s important to really “hear” what you’re putting out there.

And it’s even more important not to talk about other people or your workplace without permission. One of the warnings in “Blogging for Dummies” is this:

Don’t reveal trade secrets. This includes confidential information about how your employer does business that will impact revenue or reputation. If you aren’t sure whether something is bloggable, ask whether you can blog about it or run it by your boss first.”

You obviously need to be blogging when you’re not at work (unless you’re getting paid to blog). But even when blogging on your own time, you still need to be very careful of the rules regarding revealing information of any company for which you’re working.

When considering what topics are safe to blog about, the best advice is that which is good for many situations – when in doubt, don’t.

If you plan to rant and rave on your blog about having to make the coffee AGAIN at an internship, make sure that you haven’t identified the company in this post or any previous post (or future post). And, in fact, maybe forget about complaining to the world about having to make coffee – that’s a typical intern or assistant task. Better to share your thoughts about world peace – or some equally universal topic.

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