The minidrama is an increasingly familiar one as companies and workers navigate the landscape defined by sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Firings and reprimands over postings to social networking sites have become commonplace over the last year.
Surely, as individuals, we'll eventually learn to balance who we "let in" to our social networks, how we reveal our thoughts, and consider who might see what we say or do. I wonder how tolerance levels for "past deeds" will play out in the future. I think we'll become more tolerant when just about everyone has had the experience of putting too much out there. It's like traffic in LA (I get to say this cause I'm from LA); the best excuse when you're late for a meeting is to blame it on traffic, everyone commiserates with you especially if there was an accident on the freeway. For an interesting read on putting stuff out there take a look at this New York Times article from 2007 (funny how this article keeps coming up).
But the answer does not solely lie with the end user. Companies need to frequently communicate with their employees on what they will tolerate and not just rely on draconian measures after the fact. What's the phrase, "an ounce of prevention..."? Most companies have some sort of policy on cyber-flaming; although it's probably obtusely named something like Electronic Communications Agreement that employees my need to sign (but not re-read) once a year. Usually the agreement includes broadly written rules that only do well to serve as blunt instruments when it's needed or is useful. Typically signing the agreement is made part of employment terms but the rules are dictated rather than communicated. When was the last time you read the entire licensing agreement when you installed a piece of software? And do you think of it every time you use the software? Same idea. If a company wants to avoid embarrassment and leaked information then it should take measures to help employees understand what is tolerated and help them to do the right thing.
AP Reporter Reprimanded For Facebook Post; Union Protests | Threat Level | Wired.com