Can you be fired for Facebooking while not at work?

A recent trend of employers seems to be that they are allowed to have some input on your life outside of work if they feel it could misrepresent the company.  Previously, you could only share your thoughts about your employer with friends over a dinner via verbal conversation or in writing to editorials in newspapers.  What happened outside of work only made it back inside when a co-worker was involved or a a letter was mailed pointing you out.  With social networking, you can reach hundreds and thousands almost instantly and forever.

Recently, British Airways took it upon themselves to suspend 15 crew members over some online antics.  Another recent study shows that 8% of US companies have fired employees over social network abuse.  Is this a trend in your company environment?

Does your company have a policy that reflects anything beyond utilizing social networks at work and sharing confidential information?  Probably not.  There is the major issue I feel needs to be addressed.  When you begin your employment, companies make you sign an Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP) that describes, some in great detail, pretty much everything you can do with the computer resources.  However, once off of a company device or network, it is remakrably absent.  As it should be.  But, in rebuttal, if they can suspend, terminate or reprimand you then it needs to be spelled out.

We suggest staying away from any network activity that would bring your character into question or is not approved for usage.  Approved means a poilicy exists.  Just because they do not block a site does not give you reasonable expectation to participate.  Query the IT and Human Resources department to gt copies of policies and join a team to build them.  getting involved and knowledgeable is the key to success in using and enjoying social networks with the enterprise.