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Maryland employees should handle social networking with care

With social networking a part of our daily lives, many Maryland employees are wondering about privacy risks, and if they could be fired for what is posted on social networks, such as Facebook.

Americans spend an increased amount of time on social networking sites, and could be giving employers grounds for dismissal. Employment attorneys and human resource teams are searching for a legal balance between public and private information that can be garnered. Maryland employment law has not specifically addressed this new media issue in too much detail. However, information and photos placed on a social network can be often legally be monitored by an employer, and employees do sometimes lose jobs for what is posted.

An additional problem arises as a growing number of companies are integrating social media into marketing and recruitment. To keep your activities private from any unwanted visitors, there are a few tips that every employee should remember.

Use every privacy feature that a social networking site offers. Without implementing these features, it could mean that visitors, including a boss, can see your photos, lists, posts, and other private information. Even deleted information can be seen by a supervisor in some cases.

Messages between you and your friends are legally similar to e-mails. This means that any posts or electronic conversations can be used during a legal investigation. Never post personal information, such as birthdays, religious preferences, or protected topics on a social networking site. Protected topics include sex, race or color, national origin, religion, or any disabilities.

If your position within a company requires the use of social media in order to perform your job, discuss it with a supervisor. Learn what is acceptable to the company and keep personal posts private.

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

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