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Social Networks The Internet Businesses

Social Networking Behavioral Agreements At Work? 326

Posted by kdawson
from the in-case-they-need-another-reason-to-fire-you dept.
r0nc0 writes "My company (a Fortune 15 company) has recently required everyone that accesses the company portal to accept or decline an 'agreement' that governs the use of social networking. It basically states that any discussion of the company or any of the work that you do, whether at the office or at home, must be governed by their rules of social networking. Naturally these rules are that you never say anything bad or negative about the company, nor do you say anything bad or negative about anything. It's presented like a EULA, but if you decline more than 3 times your manager is notified. Naturally I declined it each time until my manager complained to me about all the email he was getting about me not accepting the agreement, so I went ahead and accepted, knowing that anybody who cares would just post anonymously anyway. This is the first time I've run into a forced agreement about social networking, and the agreement is so broad that it can't possibly be enforced. I've tried pointing out that agreements like that only drive people away and aren't necessary anyway, but I might as well talk to a brick wall. Has anyone else out there run into social networking behavioral agreements like this?"
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Social Networking Behavioral Agreements At Work?

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  • Uh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:09PM (#27928265) Homepage

    I think you just violated it. Oopsie!

    • Re:Uh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:56PM (#27928937) Homepage

      Sounds like if he did not accept the EULA-style agreement a few times and they keep asking him, he's being harassed at work. A good lawyer would put a stop to it. And if he did get caught out, then a good lawyer could definitely make a case that he was badgered into agreeing.

      • Re:Uh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @05:07PM (#27929077) Journal

        Or he'd just get fired. And that's a black mark on your career, especially as the court case drags-on and gets published in papers. I think there are better ways to handle it such as:

        - Instead of signing the agreement just scribble some illegible scrawl. That way if it goes to a court of law (very unlikely), you can deny signing the contract, "Huh? That's not my signature. It's obviously been forged. My signature looks like this..."

        - or - Cross-out the part you find objectionable, specifically the "outside of work" section. A company can control what you say on the clock, but off the clock they can not. And then sign it using your customary signature. I do this with those stupid patent agreements - what I invent in my basement, on my time, is MINE not theirs.

        You have to stand-up for liberty, else they'll take it away. Don't make it easy for them.

        • Re:Uh (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cbs4385 (929248) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @05:12PM (#27929139)
          How do you cross out a portion of a web form with 'I agree' and 'I do no agree' buttons?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by kramerd (1227006)

          That isnt how a signature works.

          What matters is that you signed it, not what you signed.

          If you sign your mortgage with your mother's name, you are still liable, not her.

          • False. Signing is not enough. They must also be able to prove the signature is tied to a specific person, and if you made an illegible blotch of ink across the page, then there's no verifiability. The contract is null and will be rejected by the courts.*

            *
            * Again I doubt you'd ever need to go to court over this agreement, but better to CYA just in case.

            • Re:Uh (Score:4, Informative)

              by PotatoFarmer (1250696) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @05:41PM (#27929603)
              No, the parent to your post got it right. It's not what you signed, it's the act of doing the signing that matters. A more detailed explanation can be found here [straightdope.com].
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              False. Signing is not enough. They must also be able to prove the signature is tied to a specific person, and if you made an illegible blotch of ink across the page, then there's no verifiability. The contract is null and will be rejected by the courts.

              One assumes you're not going to lie to cover your own ass (whether in court or otherwise) -- I like to believe that most folks learned to stop doing that sometime in their teens. If your honor means so little to you (or if not that, than your trustworthiness to others), then have fun with that.

              • Re:Uh (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @08:18PM (#27931657) Homepage

                One assumes you're not going to lie to cover your own ass (whether in court or otherwise) -- I like to believe that most folks learned to stop doing that sometime in their teens.

                Funny, for me it's been the reverse--from a young age I felt that it was very wrong to lie and almost never did (and always felt bad about it). Only later did I discover (much to my surprise and, when participating in it, discomfort) that being disingenuous and even lying outright is not only widely accepted in the adult world, but very often expected.

                This is especially common in business, I've found, where being perfectly honest on a résumé and/or application will practically never land you a job, especially on those "why do you want to work here"-type question (let's face it, 99% of the time the real answer is "I want money and this job sounds like it won't suck too much"). Then there's "networking" which often involves creating a whole false persona. It's sickening, but damn-near unavoidable, and certainly considered to be normal and acceptable.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                >>>One assumes you're not going to lie to cover your own ass

                Why not? Politicians lie all the time. Ditto corporations. So too do cops, and courts have stated cops are allowed to lie. ("No I'm not recording this," even though they are.) If they are allowed to lie, then I'm allowed to lie too. That makes it an even playing field in the adversarial legal system, where virtually anything goes.

  • by thomasinx (643997) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:10PM (#27928277)
    That's less of an enforceable EULA, and more of an excuse to fire. This way the company will have a (more) legitimate excuse if they fire you for something said about the company. They'd fire you anyways, but this just gives them more 'grounds' in case you go back and try to sue them.
    • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:48PM (#27928861) Homepage
      I don't know why they force you to agree to it. Unless there's some sort of union agreement or tenure issue, most people are at-will employees, at least in the US, and can be fired at any time for any reason.

      Maybe the issue is firing for cause, which allows companies to get out of their obligation to pay unemployment, as I understand it, but if it's just a matter of separating the wheat and the chaff, they don't need an agreement to do this.

      It goes like this: "Hey, look, this employee clearly isn't happy, and instead of dealing with their manager or colleagues, they're airing their dirty laundry to the world. This isn't the kind of person we want to trust with our trade secrets. G'bye!"

      A better company would have identified the problems sooner by using good performance management methodologies which would encourage open and honest communication among the ranks, but many companies can't be bothered. There's a growing sector of the talent management software market that deals with this because some companies do realize that they can save a lot of cutter by keeping their good employees happy and not resorting to these sorts of punitive measures.
      • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:56PM (#27928945) Homepage

        Al Capone, the notorious gangster at whose feet practically all of organized crime in the 1920's was lain, was indicted for the one crime they could effectively make stick ...

        Income tax evasion.

        Not murder or extortion or any other crime that you'd associate with Capone. Tax evasion. With that conviction in the bag, they threw the book at him.

        The poster's company's Social Networking agreement seems to be prep for the same kind of action. For whatever reason they might *want* to fire him, or penalize him, or just overlook him for a benefit, they can set him up for failure to comply with a confounding, overly-broad rule that he signed his intention to obey.

        It streamlines the bureaucratic process for them, because all they need is *one* reason.

        Every time HR asks me to generate a report on the surfing habits of an employee, I know exactly where it's going, and sure enough, I'm deactivating accounts soon afterward.

        People don't *really* get fired for surfing the net. It's just easier to make the case that way.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        most people are at-will employees, at least in the US, and can be fired at any time for any reason.

        You mean, can be fired at any time for _no_ reason.

        It's an important distinction (since there are reasons you _can't_ be fired for). See also FMLA, ADA, etc.

      • by thomasinx (643997)
        It's not that people can't be fired at any time, it's that there are some reasons that are legally unacceptable for firing someone. Among these are disabilities, old age, marriage, pregnancy, race, etc. If you get fired for one of these reasons (and you can prove it) then the company did a no-no, and you're likely eligible for compensation. (Although proving it is hard).

        In this case, the company is playing it safe in case someone wants to play the free-speech card. (e.g., "I was fired for using my rig
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:12PM (#27928305) Homepage Journal
    What actually happens if you would have kept declining? Does that actually impact your salary or continued employment? And do they consider /. to be a "Social Networking" site?

    Personally, I think it'd be worthwhile to mail the text to the EFF.
    • I don't consider /. to be a social networking site.

      Compared with facebook/myspace where the purpose is to talk about yourself and to make+stalk friends, /. it for discussing news stories.

      Also, I've never read a comment and thought to myself, "hmm, that was insightful, maybe we could play together."

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

        by SQLGuru (980662) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:37PM (#27928729) Journal

        From your "profile":

        coolsnowmen (695297) is all alone in the world.

        Slashdot does have a "friend" concept. I'm sure it's underutilized (and hopefully all dev time is spent elsewhere if that's true), but that gives it a social aspect. I've added a couple of people as friends because I've found things they said to be in line with my views and having a similar interest. I haven't really tried to contact them, but I will occassionally look to see what they are commenting on in case I missed an article that would be of interest to me.

        • There is a lot more social networking going on in journal pages on slashdot. In effect, every user account is a personal social network. I have stumbled on a few over the years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Also, I've never read a comment and thought to myself, "hmm, that was insightful, maybe we could play together."

        That's too bad actually. I've actually made friends on the Dot who I've actually been able to even meet in Real Life(TM) on occasion. There are many here who actively write journals, I do occasionally, but you can actually meet some very cool people through them. So, if you come across a comment that is funny, insightful, or worthy of extra reading, I'd encourage you to see if they journal,
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:18PM (#27928407) Journal

      Perhaps most importantly, is it even legal for them to force an existing employee into new terms of employment in his jurisdiction?

      A good practice for the employee is to never say anything regarding your employer's business that you have not been authorized to say on your employer's behalf, period. Another is to never allow your personal opinion about something outside your company be mistaken as a company statement. The usual "these thoughts do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer" disclaimer is usually effective for the latter.

      It's scary that they are having people agree to something through harassment, though. Everyone should have notice and a chance to show it to their own counsel before signing it.

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mustafap (452510) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:23PM (#27928485) Homepage

        >Everyone should have notice and a chance to show it to their own counsel before signing it.

        What is this with involving lawyers at a simple decision point?

        He should be grown up enough to make his own, educated decision. He is educated, isn't he?

        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nos. (179609) <andrew@@@thekerrs...ca> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:26PM (#27928557) Homepage

          You know that educated is not the same thing as omnipotent right? I know a lot about computers, security, etc. Don't know much of anything about medicine though. That's why I go see a doctor when I have questions.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            I don't mean to be a grammar Nazi, but I think the word you're looking for is "omniscient". Omnipotent means "all powerful". Omniscient means "all knowing".

        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:42PM (#27928813) Journal

          What's the proper pressure through your car's PVC valve? Your mechanic probably knows.

          How long do you cook a 2" thick steak on a 675F flat grill to get it medium rare? I bet some high school kid in your town can tell you from his job at a restaurant.

          What's the best type of broom for cleaning up a spill of damp gerbil food? Is it nylon, polyester, horsehair, palmyra, PVC, or straw?

          What's a typical range of muzzle velocity of a Remington .223 rifle?

          How do you write a 32-bit adder in 6502 assembly language?

          Whats the technical flood stage of the Mississippi river at St. Louis, MO's official measuring point?

          What's the third note of the melody in Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries?

          Come on, you should know all of these things without looking them up or asking anyone. After all, you're educated, aren't you?

          • Aaaargh! (Score:5, Funny)

            by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:49PM (#27928879) Homepage Journal

            What's a typical range of muzzle velocity of a Remington .223 rifle?

            African or European?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by BKX (5066)

            What's the proper pressure through your car's PVC valve? Your mechanic probably knows.

            No he doesn't. He looks it up in a manual, if for some unknown reason he would need to check it. More likely, he'll do a few tests that rule out other parts and then replace it if it's bad.

            How long do you cook a 2" thick steak on a 675F flat grill to get it medium rare? I bet some high school kid in your town can tell you from his job at a restaurant.

            The answer is, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT! GET A FIRE EXTENGUISHER!" There's no way in hell you'd have a flattop grill at 675F. With flattop grills, the use of oil to keep product from sticking is mandatory. Even the highest high-temp oil will smoke at 500F. Other oils will smoke at about 400F-450F (including beef fat). As such,

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @05:14PM (#27929161) Journal

        >>>is it even legal for them to force an existing employee into new terms of employment in his jurisdiction?

        Probably not. Just because you sign an agreement, does not make it binding. During the Paypal trial, most of their user agreement was declared "null" on the basis that citizens can not sign-away rights/privileges enforced by State or U.S. law. So eventually I think you'll find most of these corporate-enforced EULAs that forbid discussing the job while at home will be nullified by the courts - probably on the basis of Constitutional law - we just haven't reached that point yet.

    • by GPLDAN (732269)
      The EFF isn't going to take up a fight with a corporate policy. Never in a million years. If it is Fortune 15, then it is probably public, i.e. it's stock is public.

      That's the only way you have to affect a reversal of that policy. Get a lot of shares amassed and invite yourself to a board meeting. Outside of that, forget it. The EFF won't touch it.
  • Big Mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:12PM (#27928313)

    Naturally I declined it each time until my manager complained to me about all the email he was getting about me not accepting the agreement, so I went ahead and accepted, knowing that anybody who cares would just post anonymously anyway.

    Umm, congratulations on signing away those rights. You should have told him politely that you intend to keep declining the terms, and that he should talk to the people in charge of the system about the massive amount of pointless messages it sends out which prevent real work from getting done. Simply accepting the terms because it is annoying isn't a good idea in my book.

    • Yeah, and then he could blog about his experience filing for unemployment. Oh, not eligible because he was fired.

      This agreement should in no way prevent him from telling the same facts he could tell before he signed it. He can still talk about anything public as long as he sticks the the facts and leaves out negative OPINION. "The cocksuckers fired 50 people for no reason." is not acceptable. "50 people are no longer employed." is acceptable. Assuming the information was already public. Prior to signi

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:13PM (#27928329)

    IIRC there are no laws preventing companies from subjecting employees to micromanagement even off the clock aside from those rendering any "indentured servitude" contracts void.

    Given the proliferation of electronic surveillance tools I think it's time to pass some, and we have a progressive president who is likely to be receptive if enough public momentum can be built.

    If you have a decent CV, i'd dump that job of yours as soon as the economy picks up, and tell them exactly why. Encourage others who are talented contributors to do the same. When the company sees its most productive members going byebye they will cease with the policy.

    Btw, grow a pair and name the company so i can avoid applying there.

  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:15PM (#27928343)

    Don't use social networking at work.

    Secondly, don't use social networking at home with information or pictures that could identify you at least to the public.

    If you want to talk about things without retribution, you need to do it anonymously or without your real name.

    And as an aside...

    Back in the late 90's when the internet first took off, most of the internet users never used their real name for anything. Maybe we were all geeks and loved being able to role play bad asses (aka trolls) on IRC, forums, and online games, but I'm just shocked these days on how people use their real names for just about everything.

    It was assumed back then, the only way people could get to you was if they knew your real life info and now today it seems that people give it out by default without giving a second thought.

    • Re:Simple Solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by An ominous Cow art (320322) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:33PM (#27928645) Journal

      In the 80s and early 90s, you saw quite a lot of real names, addresses, and phone numbers in peoples' USENET signatures. Of course most people had their accounts through school or work (or the military) and may not have had a choice of username, but it was definitely a different mindset.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bzzfzz (1542813)
      The trouble is that many people participate in social networking sites where the use of real names is expected. Opting out of social networking entirely is like opting out of the banking system -- possible, but not worth it for most people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GMFTatsujin (239569)

      Don't use social networking at work.

      That's reasonable.

      Secondly, don't use social networking at home with information or pictures that could identify you at least to the public.

      That's not. It defeats the purpose of, you know, engaging with the society through networking: how you have an identity and you identify as part of the group? Socially?

      If you want to talk about things without retribution, you need to do it anonymously or without your real name.

      Sure. But anonymity is a precious commodity, and very h

    • Back in the late 90's when the internet first took off, most of the internet users never used their real name for anything. Maybe we were all geeks and loved being able to role play bad asses (aka trolls) on IRC, forums, and online games, but I'm just shocked these days on how people use their real names for just about everything.

      I honestly don't see the point in being anonymous. I take responsibility (and credit) for the things I say and write. If somebody doesn't like that they can tell me to my face. And good luck to them.

  • I've had similar (Score:3, Informative)

    by alitheg (1550581) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:16PM (#27928371) Homepage
    Working for a well-known retailer in the UK part-time while at University, one person I know lost their job because of (or at least partly because of, there *were* other factors) comments about the company and some people working for it on a social networking site. Shortly afterwards, the guidelines on computing were revised, and everyone asked to sign them, including a section on not posting negatively about the company or its employees "for example social networking sites or web-logs (blogs)"
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:16PM (#27928375) Homepage Journal

    Go home and post anonymously. You can't hold corporations to be accountable if you do not speak out.

  • by Orbital Sander (237340) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:17PM (#27928399) Homepage

    You're taking their money, right? In that case, bend over and take it like a r0nc0.

    • Re:Let's see... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:30PM (#27928605)

      Wrong attitude.
      You have a business agreement of equals with your employer, you're not their slave.
      You give them time, they give you money. At no point do you have to or should you ever be subservient to them or give up any of your human rights, or anything else they haven't already agree to pay you for.
      Yet for some reason especially in the USA employees let their employers walk all over them, which sends the message that we're all a bunch of pussies that will put up with anything, so the employer does it even more. Basically its the fault of every employee with an attitude like yours that it can happen in the first place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by compro01 (777531)

        You have a business agreement of equals

        Yes, a single man is the "equal" of a $100+ billion corporation.

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Indeed, one should bear in mind the unequal bargaining power of employer and employee.

          Isn't that why labor unions were invented in the first place?

        • by JustNiz (692889)

          Absolutely not.
          The rights and life of a single person are way more important than the extra profits of any business entity.

        • Comparing an individual to a corporation is like comparing an apple to a barrel of apples. Obviously they are not the same thing. But each apple in the barrel is an apple. Some are bigger. Some are smaller. Some are sweeter. Some have bruises. They are not all "equal" in every imaginable sense of the word but they all have one very important thing in common: they are all apples.

          The corporation is just a group of individuals each working towards a common goal. Each individual is unique and you cannot compare

      • Re:Let's see... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:52PM (#27928911)

        Wrong attitude.
        You have a business agreement of equals with your employer, you're not their slave.

        Indeed. And, as an equal, if my employer were denigrating me in public (or semi-public), I would not hesitate to terminate all agreements with them. Thus, I do not fault them if they would do the same to me.

        You give them time, they give you money. At no point do you have to or should you ever be subservient to them or give up any of your human rights, or anything else they haven't already agree to pay you for.

        Indeed. And under no religion, or charter I am aware of is the right to be abusive without consequence a human right.

        Yet for some reason especially in the USA employees let their employers walk all over them, which sends the message that we're all a bunch of pussies that will put up with anything, so the employer does it even more. Basically its the fault of every employee with an attitude like yours that it can happen in the first place.

        I, for one, am not a pussy. I wield the ultimate power over my employer: the right to walk away if I am dissatisfied in any way, at any time. And I see nothing in the summary that would make a reasonable person exercise that right.

  • It's the economy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bzzfzz (1542813) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:18PM (#27928415)
    It's usually the market that keeps employers from following through on ridiculous "agreements" like this.

    I believe they have increased boldness because the high unemployment makes them less concerned about how they will replace people they fire for one or another petty infraction of the rules.

  • by netruner (588721) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:20PM (#27928445)
    And most of them are just excuses to get rid of "problem" elements should an issue arise. (proprietary data leaks come to mind)

    My employer makes us sign a code of ethics that's really just common sense - nothing really intrusive (if you end up on the front page of the local paper with your company badge on robbing an orphanage, or if you're stealing from the company or if you're falsifying paperwork, you're probably going to be fired). Other companies see it as a broad license to exert control over things they ought not.

    The only problem I've had with it is the "agree to this new requirement to keep the job you've been doing" approach. (I know, I know - fairness and uniformity)

    I wish folks would keep these agreements in mind when they get on their soapbox about "anonymous" posters being "cowards" for not putting their names to their comments. (that attitude always sounded to me like someone who was trying to figure out who to exact revenge on anyway)
  • Ass covering exercise. If you (the worker) call $famous_person a $bad_thing it ain't their fault - it's yours.
  • by nxtw (866177) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:22PM (#27928471)

    If possible, you could have avoided it. Where I work, the web-based resources I need aren't part of the same site and could be accessed without going through the portal.

    And if this "agreement" was only on the front page of the portal, you may have been able to bypass it by navigating to a different page within the portal.

  • Whoever the attorneys are for this outfit are fools. It is likely they didn't do so well in law school and had connections.

    Seriously, this is a stupid legal move for all of the reasons presented by the original poster.

    Ah well. I guess bad law students have to eat, too.

    Either that, or the managers wrote a legal-like document without understanding the law. Good for anyone who then needs to sue them later, but bad for the company.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:24PM (#27928521)

    If it really says that you can't say anything negative about anything publically, then wow.

    Most employers have clauses about saying things in public about the company that are negative, or that would, by association, put the company in a bad light.

    It's rather a tough call. For example, you're at a conference, holding court in the hallways, telling people what a crock of poop the competitions product is, in terms that are perhaps "less than professional". This calls the professionalism of your company into question.

    Whenever you're operating under your corporate persona, you are generally bound by the rules of conduct. If that is spelled out in your employment agreement as "behave nicely in public", then I think that they're merely covering all their bases by being explicit about social networking sites.

    But to broaden it, to include public statements made by you under your non-corporate persona is stretching things. If my private self spouts off about what a moron my ex wife is in a public forum, the company can hardly claim that I was speaking on behalf of the company in that context.

    The fact is, that you can contractually bind yourself to giving away some of your free-speech rights. It has been the cost of having a "mega corporation" job for a long time, since long before the Internet was big, and social networking sites were around.

    • by Meshach (578918)
      The first amendment says that _government_ shall pass no law that abridges free speech. That Fortune 15 company is free to do what they want.
  • by slimshady945 (1553213) <mullinaland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:28PM (#27928569)

    I worked for a company that had an off duty conduct policy. It was intended, I think, for people who get arrested or convicted for things that happen while they are not at work, eg drunk driving. However (comma pause for effect) it was generally used against people who complained about their boss or work on their own time. Kind of like this. [abajournal.com]

    That company is IPC International Corporation. It's a contract security firm, so I doubt many people here would work for them, but throwing it out there just in case. It wasn't the way I would have liked to leave, but I thank G-d every day that I never have to deal with them again. It may seem like I have a lot of resentment toward them. Maybe I do... hindsight being 20/20 I should have taken unemployment and finished my degree. (which I am doing now.)

    Also that policy applied to the guards, maybe not management. Or it may be even more restrictive for management.

  • by davecrusoe (861547) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:28PM (#27928579) Homepage

    An agreement such as this likely covers two areas: first, badmouthing the company on social sites (it wants to protect itself) and second, using social sites for personal reasons, rather than for work-related reasoning.

    If anything is the case, sooner or later, workplaces will have to accept that social media blurs the lines between work and life even further. I'm on Facebook Causes for my workplaces, although my personal account is linked to the Facebook Causes.

    Social media policies are the knee-jerk reaction put in place by individuals who don't yet see that blurred line, nor understand how to work with, rather than against, social media services. It's still something that's being figured out, anyway, so there's an excuse (so they say).

    Cheers,
    --Dave

  • 1. If it it bothers you enough to post on /. find another job. Seriously, if it's not a good personal fit, then find a place that is a better fit.

    2. While you can probably work there for quite a while in this state, at some point the tension will probably do bad things to your overall physical/mental health.

    3. that you never say anything bad or negative about the company, nor do you say anything bad or negative about anything.
    I make mistakes and I'm not human perfection, so... Someone please exp

  • Already under NDA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbuskirk (99904) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:31PM (#27928613)

    Let's face it the moment you were hired you were presented with the same/similar document outlining what you could and could not say about the company. This is just a friendly pop-up to remind all the kiddies just out of college that Facebook is not exempt from the NDA they didn't read.

  • Employment contract (Score:3, Interesting)

    by janwedekind (778872) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:32PM (#27928631) Homepage

    As far as I know it is quite normal that an employment contract forbids you to talk negatively about your company in public (during and after your employment). So they have a legal means of firing you if you simply expose corporate malpractice to the public. That can make it difficult for employees to defend themselves especially if they depend on their income.

  • There's no way I'd agree to something like that, I have a right to freedom of speech!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)

      ...and because you signed an employment contract that you have broken because of your free speech, then they have the right to dismiss you.

      Unfortunately, these stupid rules on social networking get enforced because some people are severely lacking in any common sense. Some 30 years ago whilst I was at school, a teacher whom I admired greatly said one of the most important things that has ever been said to me:

      "You are free to do anything you like in life but you must face up to the consequences of what you d

    • by Jeian (409916)

      If you don't like your employer's terms of employment, then you're perfectly welcome to find a job somewhere else.

  • My employeer (Score:3, Informative)

    by djsmiley (752149) <djsmiley2k@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:33PM (#27928649) Homepage Journal

    My employeer(?) asks me to not mention who I work for on any kind of social networking site/chat rooms, but the reasoning for this is my work has implications which may lead people to believe that I am able to access things which I can't, and its a blanket request for the whole company, who I just happen to be covered with (I work in IT... lol, so unless its a request for data they are out of luck anyway)

    I'm sure if people actually read their contracts this kind of thing is pretty normal/standard but sometimes presented under another light of "I wont do anything to make the company look bad, be it while I'm working, or while im not".

    Even in my previous retail roles as a shop assistance all the contracts I've signed had this sort of agreement - covers them if you say something stupid/incriminating and they suddenly need you to "disappear" out of the company.

  • by Nexzus (673421) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:38PM (#27928739)
    Looking at [cnn.com] the current Fortune 15, a whole lotta those companies have been in the news. I can imagine his company wanting to minimize any amount of bad publicity they can, right down to the musings of their employees. Citigroup, in particular, who received a fair amount of bailout money, may not want it known if its rank and file employees are using extragent perks. Just an example.
    • by pla (258480) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:50PM (#27928883) Journal
      Looking at the current Fortune 15, a whole lotta those companies have been in the news.

      You can narrow it down more than that - No one describes themselves as a "fortune 15" company unless they failed to make the top ten... So that leaves:
      • #11, Bank of America
      • #12, Citigroup
      • #13, Berkshire Hathaway
      • #14, IBM
      • #15, McKesson

      On top of that, I'd rule out IBM and BRK, just as a gut feeling that they have a bit more sense than to reduce morale with such a useless policy.

  • by swschrad (312009) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:38PM (#27928745) Homepage Journal

    seriously, that's how MBAs see it. what it comes down to is this: if you talk, use no name. if you don't talk, you could use your name, if you could have talked.

    or you can post using library computers requiring no check-in procedure, and under the CEO's name.

  • 1) Never give your real name or address to a one night stand, and 2) Never say anything online that can be traced back to your work persona. If you criticize your own company, it carries more weight because you are an "insider". If you criticize another company, they can sue your company because it has deeper pockets than you as an individual. Also, if you have stock in the company you work for, anything you say about the company online is probably subject to SEC rules. Conclusion: if you absolutely have to
    • Never, ever, under any circumstance, allow yourself to be recorded while having sex, or even while displaying your naughty bits. Think about it: is a cheap necklace of mardi gras beads really worth the embarrassment of showing up in a "Girl geeks gone wild!" video?

      If it's really true that 20% of all teenagers have sent naked pictures of themselves to another person's cellphone then in less than a generation it won't matter anymore.

      Once a certain fraction of the population has naked pictures of themselves fl

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        You obviously don't have kids. Ever imagine trying to teach you teenage daughter to behave herself when she can easily find picture of her mom drinking, doing drugs, and flashing her naughty bits (or worse) on the 'net? "Mommy, why does Google show 1,967,000 hits for your name associated with something called a 'blow job'???"
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

          Like it or not that is what is happening.

          It's not like human beings haven't been drinking, doing drugs and flashing naughty bits since before recorded history. Only now we can create permanent, accessable records of all of it.

          I won't argue that this is a good change, just that it is an inevitable one.

          When the time comes that a Google search will find naked pictures of 1/5 (1/3, 1/2, 3/4) of the population then those activities will no longer be viewed in the same way that they are viewed today.

  • One company I worked for required that we list all our copyrights, websites and other intellectual content to avoid any conflicts with the company policy that any idea that pops into your head at work or at home belonged to the company. Several people offered to quit outright over the policy, others got clever by listing the URLs of every Slashdot they ever posted, and some threaten to sue. This soon became an unmanageable mess that the company was forced to drop the policy.
    • One company I worked for required that we list all our copyrights, websites and other intellectual content to avoid any conflicts with the company policy that any idea that pops into your head at work or at home belonged to the company. Several people offered to quit outright over the policy, others got clever by listing the URLs of every Slashdot they ever posted, and some threaten to sue. This soon became an unmanageable mess that the company was forced to drop the policy.

      Um....I think that policy kind

  • Ask if the "social networking" restrictions apply while playing golf.

  • Would that include speaking disapprovingly of negative comments about the company? Or natural and man made disasters?

    Seems to me you protest that you simply can't in good conscious refuse to NOT say anything bad about either 9/11, or your supervisor's tragic and daily bouts with STD's. But you *will* cheerfully agree to their terms when they give you a specific list of things, actions, situations, ideas, and adjectives about which are not to say negative things about - and given you adequate time to commit

  • Your choices should be:

    1. Don't do any browsing at work at all
    2. Bring your own gear (Say like a nice Dell mini 9) and use mobile wireless. If this isn't allowed at work, go to choice #1 and get over it.

  • by shentino (1139071)

    Why is this not in the YRO section?

  • by managerialslime (739286) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @05:05PM (#27929045) Journal
    Restrictions on social networking may be an example of the "new" technology-driven world reflecting what has always been policy at many large companies.

    Thirty years ago, my boss forced me to fire someone who was a member of a social group (outside of work that) my boss found to be objectionable. Mind you, this employee never opened his mouth or said anything unprofessional at work.

    My boss took me aside and explained to me that like it or not, every employee's "personal life" could always be construed as a representation of the employer and so any publicly controversial image was grounds for termination.

    What I found out then and is even more true in the US today, is that as long as your reason for firing someone is not directly based on their age, race, officially recognized religion, country of national origin, or recognized handicap, that you can pretty much fire them for any other reason (or non-reason), work-related or not.

    Some of the freedoms for the "pursuit of happiness" in the US are reserved for the unemployed and entrepreneurs.

    I accepted this reality early in my career. It is not the bravest position. Then again, I am not the bravest of people.
  • You went ahead and accepted even though you knew it was wrong.
    Its people like you that make employers think that this sort of shit is even a possibility.
    Good luck with whatever even more restrictive crap they now put you through just because you caved like a pussy the first time.

  • The policy is so broad as to be unenforcable?

    This says to me that anyone at a suitable rank in your company can initiate disciplinary action against an employee who uses social networking. The policy isn't designed to be enforced or even to change anyone's behavior. It almost seems designed to be abused.

  • So your company doesn't want to hear about bug reports, UI problems, security issues, etc.

    How dumb can a company's management be?

    On numerous occasions, I've bought something partly because the vendor was open about problems. If a company pretends that there are no problems with its products, I suspect that they're suppressing news about something really awful.

    (Note that I've avoided any Microsoft bashing. ;-)

  • An Employers view (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cenc (1310167) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:38PM (#27930323) Homepage

    First thing I did was firewall off most of the major social networking sites. Which for the most part cures the problem for everyone concerned. Anyone trying to get around that, would be fired anyway just for trying.

    Second, I notified anyone I catch using one of those sites from my network that they get three strikes and they are fired, unless they have express permission. Accidentally ending up on one for whatever reason does happen. Just don't hang out there at work.

    Third, I really don't care what they do on social networking site on their own time, but I definitely care what they disclose about my buisness on the social networking site. They need express authorization to discuss anything work related on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter.

    This is not about censorship, this is about security and violation of their confidentiality agreement. None of my employees are qualified to make judgments about what can and can not be disclosed on the internet about my buisness.

    I don't want to Google things related to my buisness and find out I got knocked off the top of the search engines with a bunch of comments from employees. That includes flattering comments.

    What is our number one hands down tried and true technique for breaching any sort of security? SOCIAL ENGINEERING!!!

    So, you want freedom of speech, you can have all you want at the next job; but, you still will not be able to discuss my company because it is also in the confidentiality agreement. The one I pay employees for complying with not just as a condition of employment, but as a major part of the job description.

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