How to Avoid Career Problems on Social Media
Social media can blur the line between the personal and the professional. Connecting with coworkers on a site like Linkedin or Facebook allows them to find out about unusual interests or political views that could cause them to think differently about you.
Only share information that is public. For example, never discuss corporate intellectual property (secret recipes or manufacturing methods), pending business transactions (anything in negotiation), private Human Resources information (boss had a heart attack!) or government classified information (where troops are located, how to counteract a military weapon).
If you accidentally post something that is secret, it may not be best to immediately request its removal. Contact the company’s security office so they can have it removed. And do not post right after the data leak “OMG, no one read this, its secret, my bad”. What others would have read over and probably forgotten is now embedded in their minds as valuable information.
Your employer can’t say you cannot identify yourself as an employee. However, they refuse to let you use their logo on your profile.
Don’t answer questions as an official representative for the company. You can say that something comes from your experience at a firm, but don’t say “My company says”.
If you have military clearance or DoD clearance, it might be a breach of that security clearance to say that you have it. Sites like Linkedin may be appropriate to say you have Confidential clearance, but it is a violation of numerous security guidelines to say which projects you have Top Secret access on. Do not use classified project names in status updates or in response to “What are you working on?”
To minimize problems, act like your interactions on social media are a networking event. Don’t bash your supervisor, badmouth coworkers or criticize competitors.
Trust but verify information you’re given on social media. We often see the obvious scams like “Make $6,000 a month answering surveys!” by Bunny Elvira on LinkedIn. Less obvious may be someone at a competitor pretending to be a friend or associate, hoping to groom you for information on corporate secrets or “John Doe” who is actually a Chinese national paid to get bits of information used to build or confirm a broader picture.
If you make a mistake, admit it quickly online in the same forum so that you retain credibility.
Be careful not to express opinions as facts.
Avoid using absolutes. “Never” and “Always” may decrease your credibility.
Assume that everything you post online is a permanent record. And unlike the one from school, this one will follow you to your next job and show up when a potential date LookSeeks you. Remember that anything you post online is part of your permanent record. What you post online probably remains in someone else’s servers, data feed, emailed notices and history.
An online apology to someone you offended in private probably doesn’t cut it. Posting text online on a blog and then expecting them to both know about it and accept it is rude. Think Kanye West’s posted apology to Taylor Swift in 2009 was one example. While the online apology may have led headlines, he didn’t even bother to talk to her or her family. He assumed a few typed lines online was sufficient, and everyone else should accept it.