Firms Fire Over Blogs, Social Networks

    July 20, 2007

If you’re reading this while at work, be careful – you may look off-topic.  But it’s what you write that could really upset your employer, and a new study found that companies are more than willing to fire people for their activity on email, blogs, and social networks.

Firms Fire Over Blogs, Social Networks
Firms Fire Over Blogs, Social Networks

“More than one-quarter of surveyed companies (27.3%) have terminated an employee for violating email policies in the past 12 months,” according to Proofpoint, and in the same period, 9.1 percent of those companies dismissed folks over “the exposure of sensitive information via blog or message board postings.”

Want one more disconcerting statistic?  “In the past 12 months, 14.0% of surveyed companies have disciplined an employee for violating social networking policies and nearly 5% terminated an employee for such a violation,” claims the Proofpoint report.

Only, to be more accurate, it was Forrester, not Proofpoint, that conducted the research.  Wired’s Ryan Singel notes this, and also writes, “I have doubts that this many companies have actually fired employees for message board or blog postings, but that’s just a gut, Chertoff-style, danger-dog hunch.”

Singel later continues, “Proofpoint, a vendor that sells message monitoring equipment, also has a vested interest in having companies perceive that they need to be monitoring their employees.  That doesn’t make the survey flawed, but it’s certainly in the interests of security vendors to keep the perceived threat level high.”

Still, for those of you who aren’t self-employed or near the top of your organization, it might be best to watch what you write.  And as recent events at Whole Foods have demonstrated, even head honchos need to behave themselves.