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Tips for making smart choices when mixing work with social media

We have previously written about how social media sites like Facebook are blurring the lines between work life and private life. An increasing number of companies in Florida and across the country are firing or disciplining employees for Facebook comments or other social media activities that reflect negatively on the company.

Because this is relatively new territory for employment law, it is not always easy to sort out what disciplinary actions are legal and which constitute wrongful termination. Therefore, the safest way for employees to avoid this mess entirely is to be smart about their use of social media.

Author and blogger Jessica Miller-Merrell recently offered four tips employees should use to avoid getting fired because of Facebook activity. A good starting point would be to read your company's social media policy (if it has one).

It is important to see which types of use are ok and which are prohibited. If you have questions or concerns, you may be able to schedule a meeting with human resources or management.

Miller-Merrell also says that it is important to be reserved and discrete when mixing social media into your work life. The best practice is to avoid friending co-workers and supervisors. However, if you do, you should make sure you have appropriate privacy settings in place to avoid sharing anything too personal or controversial with them.

Even if you take precautions, though, it is important to understand that your information may not stay as private as you'd like once it is on Facebook. Even information such as your age or religious views could be read by employers and (wrongfully) used to make hiring and advancement decisions.

When it comes to employment law, social media is still dicey legal territory. Therefore, it is important to make smart decisions about how (of if) you will mix work and Facebook.

Source: SmartBlogs.com, "4 tips for avoiding getting fired for Facebook," Jessica Miller-Merrell, Jan. 13, 2012

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