Social Media No-Nos

This article showed up in my online browsing today, and it reminded me (as it should remind you) that what we post on social media could come back to haunt us on the job.

In short, this woman took advantage of the relative ease with which we can post our opinions online to let everyone know how she felt about the 2012 election results.  While she’s entitled to disagree with other voters, what she said was racist.  She also used the A word.  I’m sorry, but anyone with any brains these days knows that posting certain terms is the equivalent of shouting the B word in a crowded airport.  You just.  Don’t. Do. It.

This word? No?


The company she worked for fired her.  Do they have the right to do this? Yes, they do.  The worst thing about Miss Obama Hater?  She doesn’t understand why she lost her job.  I’m about to explain why.

While some people may argue that her post constituted free speech, the Constitution only covers your right to not have the government suppress speech—which they still can under certain circumstances.  Your employer can tell you to shut the H-E-double hockey sticks up all he/she wants.   The only protected option at work is objecting to adverse conditions, or reporting something illegal (whistleblowing).

What are some common workplace rights you only think you have?  Donna Ballman, an employment lawyer, lays them out on this blog post at Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home, and she does include this one.

You can also be fired for what you say outside your workplace.  Why?  Well, think about how your social media accounts represent you.  Unless you comment everywhere online using an alias, and avoid anything like Facebook where you’d use your real name, your face and voice will both be out there.

More websites every day are requiring comments be posted under Facebook IDs or using your real name.  You can, of course, decline to comment, but if it’s a hot-button issue, can you resist?

Must…correct…misguided…assumptions about Pokemon….

Image:  imagerymajestic /

“Sure, but what does that have to do with my job?” you ask.  Plenty.  At work, you represent your employer.  If your antics outside of work net you the wrong kind of attention, your job can go bye-bye.  See, employers want people who don’t court controversy.  And making racist tweets or posts about the president, or anyone for that matter, regardless of your employer’s politics, is bad.

The number one rule of social media is this:  do not post anything online you wouldn’t want your boss or your sainted grandmother to see.  You aren’t completely anonymous.  And as people like this former Burger King employee have discovered, savvy computer whizzes can track you down using your GPS tags and other neat little trackers digital devices and the Internet put on everything you post.

10 People Who Lost Jobs Over Social Media Mistakes

One reason I believe people are running afoul of this?  They’ve forgotten that being famous (i.e. going viral) and being notorious (going viral and having everyone think you’re a complete idiot and/or jerkbag) are two different things.

So be careful what you post, tweet, or comment online.  It could come back to bite you.





Office Tech: What will we do without…

This article on Mashable today lists ten office technologies on the way out.

I don’t think all of these are extinct.  Thumb drives?  Say it ain’t so…I love my little teeny portable backup.  Cloud storage is still too uncertain.  Look what happened to Dropbox.

Phones aren’t ready to be replaced yet either.  As one commenter on the article pointed out, computer-based systems rely too much on the PC, and cells just aren’t flexible or reliable enough.  Many customers don’t like email or texting, especially when they are upset and want an answer now.

“What the—hello? Hello? Can you hear me now? Arggh!”

Image: maya picture /

Fax machines are still the go-to for hard copy documents, especially those with signatures.  While scanning and emailing suffice, everyone knows they aren’t secure enough for confidential files.  So I don’t foresee the fax capability vacating printers and copiers anytime soon.

Standard working hours have indeed changed somewhat, and with everyone connected all the time, even vacations aren’t sacrosanct anymore.  I think this one is for real and will only get worse.  We’re going to have to fight for our right to personal time, people.

Desktop computers, maybe.  As business gets more mobile and more people telecommute, eventually a monster PC that can’t go in your briefcase or pocket will become obsolete.   With telecommuting, office attire (which I hate) has kind of gone out the window as well (Yay!).  As long as you don’t have a meeting, who cares if you’re working in Hello Kitty pajamas?

Note: I do not own this item. You are not now reading that I have a secret affinity for Hello Kitty. *waves hand* These are not the pajamas you’re looking for.


I’ve been plowing through Star Trek: The Next Generation again on Netflix.  It’s one of my favorite shows, not just for the characters, but the cool tech Starfleet uses.  Remember how excited we all were over its utopian practicality?

Like this, for example. Whee!

Captain Picard uses tablets all the time, I’ve noticed.  Some of the technology in TNG is here now, or in its fledgling stages.  Tablets, 3D printers (replicators) and people are even talking about holodeck technology.  Besides the fun stuff, these all have applications in the real world, and they may change the way we work.

But companies right now are still too butt-in-chair.  Service professions still demand a phone at the least, and a physical presence at most, and they have rapidly taken over.  Kind of ironic considering how poor customer service is at most companies, isn’t it?

Also, new technology costs money.  The newer it is, the more expensive it will be, and it comes with added costs:  maintenance, time spent training employees to use it, insurance.  I’m thinking the new frugal bosses will make do with that wheezy old fax for a while yet.

Clackity, clackity, clackity….



Passwords: Potential for Problems

We need passwords for everything these days.  Email, network access, shopping, and increasingly, online applications.

I have, as of today, twenty accounts with various employers / career websites.  Each site requires a user name and password.  This is getting ridiculous.  I could use the same one for all of these, since they really aren’t that important in the scheme of things.  After all, I’ll abandon them as soon as I get a job.  But that doesn’t stimulate my creative side.  And it’s not a good idea in general.

A strong password contains letters, numbers, and special characters as allowed by the software.  As my job search continues, some of those words are becoming less than polite.   Obviously I can’t share them with you.  At least it makes them easier to remember!

“Enter password here…Poo8pyH3ads….”

Image: Stuart Miles /

Basic password safety includes the following:

  • Create passwords that aren’t easy to guess.  Microsoft’s Security Center has an article on how to do this
  • Don’t store your passwords where they can easily be accessed.  If you write them on a sticky note and post it on your monitor (or even in your desk drawer), anyone rummaging around your desk can get them.
  • Never share them with anyone.  Most IT people at your company who need to work on your machine will ask YOU to log in, or they will do so as an administrator.
  • Don’t use the same password for everything.  If anyone gets it, they have access to all your accounts.

Regarding sharing, there has been buzz recently about employers asking for applicants’ Facebook passwords, or asking them to log in while they inspect their pages.

THIS IS WRONG.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This article in the Canadian Financial Post says it best:  that Canadian courts have labeled it an intrusion into seclusion.  It’s also a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

In the US, the state of Maryland has taken action regarding privacy for students, but federal lawmakers are still struggling with it.  Almost nobody agrees that it’s okay, but trying to draft legislation that addresses it is difficult.  The laws haven’t caught up to the Internet yet.

State-of-the-art government computer.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

What’s a jobseeker or employee to do when faced with this dilemma?

This article by Tony Morrison gives some good advice on what to do if a potential employer asks for your passwords.

There may be some high-clearance jobs where you have to do this; I don’t know what to tell you about that.  Some law enforcement positions require insanely intensive background checks.  If you’ve got questionable activities going on, they’re probably going to find them anyway.   But for most of us, it’s unnecessary.

Take care of your passwords.