My mom always used to caution me to never put in writing something I didn't want the world to see. That was back when an electric typewriter seemed high-tech. Now in the age of Facebook and Twitter when our every thought, no matter how banal, can be shot across the world in a matter of seconds, nothing could hold more true than that old adage from mom especially when it comes to the workplace.
We all know that just about anything we post online is fair game for employers to check out, as we've posted about before. These days our every keystroke from instant messages to emails can be monitored by our employers who issue us computers and phones. But a new case, as I write about in today's paper, takes things a step further: Two restaurant workers were fired after they created an invite-only MySpace forum to dish about their workplace and their bosses, on their personal computers. Users could log in only with their own email addresses and passwords. They were busted when a supervisor talked a worker into giving him her password and perused the site.
Monitoring our comments behind the wall of an invite-only, password-protected site might seem like a bit of a reach. After all, should we be expected to hand over to our manager the passwords to our personal email accounts where we gripe to our friends about work? Or maybe we should know better. Some lawyers I spoke with said Internet users should be savvy enough to know that passwords don't always provide the security we expect and some company policies hold workers to high standards when it comes to shoptalk.
As we often discuss, a big part of the juggle is finding the balance between our work and our private lives, but the dividing line can be hazy sometimes. What's more, we all feel the need sometimes to vent about our workplaces, but it's tough to know in this day and age what is acceptable banter and what isn't. Readers, do you think employees should be held accountable for online leaks of their private discussions about work? Do you think employers are overstepping their bounds?