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Avoiding the "Blog Firing"

Believe it or not, unwise blogging has derailed lives. At some point, the prevalence of blogging hit a tipping point and started a rash of job firings because of employee blogs. It's not that blogging, per se, is illegal, but blogging is legally regarded as a public utterance. Therefore, saying the wrong things in a blog carries the same consequences as saying the wrong things in public or broadcasting the wrong things on a radio wave.

Many companies have implicit or explicit agreements with their employees that regulate how employees may talk publicly about the workplace. Company secrets, for example, generally cannot be divulged in any medium. Libelous or just offensive remarks about the boss or co-workers can be harshly punished. In fact, merely writing a blog could be against company policy, especially if the blog is about your job or your professional field.

The lessons in all this are several, and the course of action for bloggers with day jobs is clear:

  • If you plan to blog about anything remotely connected to your office or your profession, find out what company policy has to say about it.
  • No matter what your blog is about, ask at work whether employees are permitted to have blogs. Few occupations actually forbid blogging, but ask anyway.
  • Don't blog in secret. Tell your boss. Even a personal-diary blog, which might seem to be none of your boss's business, is bound to touch on work. And that is your boss's business.
  • No matter how carefully you've prepared your supervisors and co-workers for your blog, do not amuse yourself by ratting them out in any way. Don't voice your frustrations and dislikes in the blog. Any number of legal angles can lead to an individual or the company shutting you down or throwing you out.

This problem is likely to get worse as blogging becomes more mainstream while its ramifications remain murky. Remember that no matter how cozy you feel with your regular readers, a blog is a publication with worldwide distribution. Don't say anything in a blog entry that you wouldn't say in a TV interview that you knew would be seen by everyone you work with.

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