You Can Talk About ________

There are lots of things you can’t blog, tweet, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or post on any other form of social media if you want to make sure you don’t say something that will cost you your job. Some of the things are just obviously in bad taste when viewed in hindsight. They are the kind of statements that someone would never dream of putting in a written report or memo, but somehow people forget that all social media is nothing more than a new form of written communication or public presentation. In fact, you may need to be careful about the causes you publicly support because that support may cost you your job, if you support the wrong side of an issue – and the wrong side of an issue is up to your employer or board of directors. Doubt me? Just ask the CEO who got fired over supporting the “wrong side” of a cause dividing the country today.

I always hear the cry of taking away someone’s first amendment rights when these things happen, but that just shows a complete lack of understanding about the first amendment. The first amendment protects you from one very specific entity – the government. The aim of first amendment was to prevent the government from preventing you from speaking out – generally in a negative way about the government. It does not protect you from being fired by your employer (unless the government is your employer), and it doesn’t protect you from being shunned by people for speaking out.

So, before you send that tweet or post that comment, make sure you are comfortable that you aren’t saying something that is stupid and insensitive. Maybe you can still say that around your friends, but no matter what Facebook calls your contacts, not everyone who will read what you say will be your friend.

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