When “Opinions of Your Own” Can Be Dangerous

03 Sep
September 3, 2012

Something that has become somewhat of a necessary addition to many bio and profiles online is the disclaimer of “opinions are my own and not that of my employer”. I even have it on mine.

It’s a way of employees carving out some own space to say what they want, without impacting their employers brand, reputation, or at worst, bottom line.

Or so many people think.

If I can sum up in one line what I am about to talk about, it is this:

DISCLAIMING YOUR POINTS OF VIEW DOES NOT GIVE YOU CARTE BLANCHE TO SAY WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE

I get new followers on Twitter all the time, and I decide on following back based on the bio, so I read every one of them (if you mention the word MLM, forget it). And last week I got a cracker from a guy called Gene (or the best I can tell from his bio).

He is a rep for a clothing line, also a pharmaceutical tech, and a barber (I know, what the…?). He even adds his employers URL to his bio, and his direct email address.

Wild bio aside, he then gets into his even wilder, barely legible tweeting.

Here’s a sample – a tweet about how gay the car he is driving, references to his friends in derogatory racial terms, something about smoking a bong – and so on. And then, to cap it off, he says “doin’ what I do, don’t give a f*** if they approve”.

In this case, Gene hasn’t made the statement of “views are my own” (probably because he’d have to drop barber from his resume to fit it in), so for all intents and purposes, the company has employed a racist stoner homophobe to represent their brand online (and I know that is a very simplistic way of looking at it, but it’s a first impression you get).

If you do add a disclaimer though, what real difference does it make?

If someone’s values and attitude are so out of whack with those of a companies that they claim a link to online – are they the right person for the job? And not necessarily just a social related job – anything that claims a link back to your organisation.

For businesses, you need to decide – if you want your employees to be tweeting, or indeed on social media in general, how much link do you want back to your company? If they are going to be on there, and you have more concerns than not, should part of your policy be that they not claim they work for you?

For individuals, understand that everything you do online from a social perspective has the potential to impact on your employer. Even if you disclaim it. If you feel that anything you post has the potential to affect your employment with a business, or the business at all, consider what you are sending out. If your opinions are so different to that of your company – are you in the right job?

Interested to hear other points of view.

PHOTO – The|G|

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