After seeing one of the most successful young executives in my network inform the world via a FB wall update that he was parting ways with current (now ex) employer, I decided to help my other friends avoid a similar potential social networking/career suicide.

Aside from my own personal views on privacy let’s get down to some cold hard facts:

  1. Under human-rights legislation, employees DO NOT have the right to confidential use the Internet and e-mail facilities at work. So unless you want the geek in the IT department knowing about your weekend escapades don’t FB at work.
  2. Given Google, Yahoo, MySpace, Twitter and other caches, there is a 99.9% danger that anything you put online will never truly die... so don’t post something today that you might regret tomorrow.
  3. One of Facebook’s competitive advantages is its OPEN source code, which in plain English means OPEN doors for applications and developers to get access to personal data, user profiles and other personal information that can now be searchable through Google and Bing. Consequently, your private information is not that private anymore.

Now, I bet you are all scared and questions regarding your privacy at work are overloading your brain’s hard drive. Thus, I went ahead and researched more facts about your relationship with your employer regarding your social network privacy. 

Here is a little Q&A for you:

Can my boss stop me from using Facebook or discipline me for using social networking sites during work time? The answer is YES.

Can my boss tell me to close my personal Facebook account? If you are behaving in a way that might be detrimental to the company’s brand image – (s)he surely can.

Can my employer monitor what I’m writing on Facebook while I’m at work?  Absolutely (see fact #1 above)!

Can an employer refuse to hire me because of my Facebook profile? Legally no…but how you are going to prove that (s)he is or is not basing the decision upon information they sourced from your profile?

How should my employer approach issues of personal conduct on social networks?  Improper posting/ language can count as gross misconduct, and even justify dismissal.

Should I accept a Facebook friend request from my boss?  This is a $1 Million Dollar question that I will let you decide based on your relationship.

So how does this tie into personal branding strategy online?

I love FB - I think is a great tool to connect with friends- but I want you to open your mind to the fact that YOU have a professional BRAND and you should treat Facebook and any other social network tools as if they were the front page of The New York Times. Now ask yourself; if you were Coca-Cola, what kind of information would you post on the front page of a newspaper?