Beware blogging can get you fired
In this outstanding article in the Philadelphia Enquirer we see that
blogger are being fired in record numbers, mostly for publishing
offensive content that is embarrassing to fellow employees and
Earlier this month, a California automobile club fired 27 workers
for posting messages on the Web that offended coworkers. Not long
before, a Boston University instructor was fired for blogging about
a distractingly attractive student; a blogging nanny was fired for
telling too much about herself and her employers, and a New York
beauty editor lost a new job because of blogs about the fashion
The article also has safe blogging tips, especially that employees
have no First Amendment protection while at work:
Don't write anything you wouldn't want your boss or
your mother to read. Your words could last for years, so keep future
jobs and relationships in mind.
Never divulge company secrets. That's grounds for
Avoid saying anything that could hurt your
employer's business or reputation.
Whistle-blogging - complaining about discrimination
or illegal activity at work - may be protected activity, but you'll
be on firmer ground if you go through company channels or contact
the appropriate government agency first.
There is no First Amendment protection - right to
free speech - in private employment. Think about that if you're
tempted to express controversial opinions, use offensive language,
or tell the world about your private life and fantasies.
You are more vulnerable if you blog on company
equipment at work than if you use your own computer at home.
Bloggers are personally responsible for defamatory blog comments
Allowing blog comments is also asking
for trouble. Blog comments are now treated like
"Letters to the Editor", that are published on your blog, at your
peril. The "Read My Day" blog site in England has published a
warning that suggests that British bloggers are responsible for all
comments posted into their blogs:
According to the site, British bloggers may have more even more
responsibility than USA bloggers to monitor blog comments:
"Posting comments on the internet is akin to writing the same
comments to the letters page of every major national newspaper in
the world. The international scope of blogs mean that claims in any
country are possible - territorial limits are a thing of the past. .
Any defamatory comments made in other posts on the blogger's
website may result in the blogger being held responsible for those
comments and being sued for libel.
Defamation legislation gives a defence where the 'publisher' (the
blogging host) has no knowledge of the defamatory remarks or no
reason to suspect the remarks have been made. This gives some
protection to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) but very little
comfort where the blogger has read and accepted comments on his/her
A prudent blogger must exercise editorial control over comments
to avoid this liability as a publisher of libel."
Tough laws, but it's not just British statutes. In some
jurisdictions, publishing a libel, or even linking to a libelous web
page can be a crime.
In Australia, it appears that defamation and libel laws are so
strict that they can become criminal offenses:
"In South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory under
common law any libel of sufficient seriousness can lead to criminal
As another example,
North Carolina has very strict laws making it a criminal offense
to publish false or libelous information on the web (see North
Carolina Code Chapter 14, § 14-47):
If any person shall state, deliver or transmit by any means
whatever, to the manager, editor, publisher or reporter of any
newspaper or periodical for publication therein any false and
libelous statement concerning any person or corporation, and thereby
secure the publication of the same, he shall be guilty of a Class 2
It appears that blogging is just like any other publishing, you are
responsible for your own words, and you may also be responsible for
publishing the words of others on your blog, forum or web site. . .