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3 Things Employers Won't Tell You About Social Media

By now, we've all heard stories about people being fired for their social media use, either because they got caught tweeting on the company time, or because they said something outside of work, that tarnished their employer's brand. But there's more to the perils of social media than just saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Here's what your employer knows about social media that might surprise you.

Twitter birds

(Photo Credit: petesimon/Flickr)

1. They Don't Need Your Password to Keep Tabs on You

Although your employer may not demand unhindered access to your social media accounts, a "private" conversation via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook is obviously not entirely private. We are bound to have numerous employment legal arguments about these boundaries in the years to come.

If you call in sick to work on Friday, then post pictures of yourself playing volleyball on the beach that afternoon with the caption, "Starting the weekend early!" you may get into trouble. Your employer does not need your password or even "friend" status to see your public postings.

2. They Might Have Informants

Even if you have been careful about your privacy settings, you might still get caught. If somebody (with access) shows the boss your posting, your "privacy" may not be protected. Your manager doesn't even have to cultivate office snitches to find out what you're up to -- one disgruntled team member who wishes they had an unofficial personal day is all it takes to blow your cover.

3. They Don't Want to Know Everything About You

Why wouldn't an employer want to know what you post on social media? Because they can't unlearn what they learn by following you there. If you belong to a protected class under the Civil Rights Act, you may not be discriminated against for belonging to that class.

For example, you might go to a job interview. The person you meet with expresses an interest in your social media. You know you don't have to, but you decide to connect with her on Facebook. Your profile indicates you belong to a protected class; you may belong to a different religion than the employer, for example. If she decides not to hire you, you may have a viable discrimination claim.

The moral of the story here is that it goes both ways. Nosy bosses are responsible for the information they gain, and careless employees might suffer from it.

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