There’s a ‘line’ for a reason…

Social media has created a conundrum for businesses. Where is the line when it comes to an employee’s professional life and personal life? How can an employer protect its image when an employee uses poor judgment on Facebook, Twitter or another social media venue? And, is it an employer’s right to dictate what an employee says – or posts – on a personal, yet public venue? 
Case in point – recently, NBC News featured a pretty darn bad military faux pas from some National Guardsmen at a fallen soldier’s funeral. Now, I’m not really sure why any of these individuals would think it OK to silly-pose with an empty, flag-draped casket then post to social media, but they did. And, one took it to an extreme in her post saying, “We put the FUN in funeral.” ::jaw dropped, shaking head in dismay:: 
This is a case that was clearly an “on the job” moment, and I’m sure correct funeral protocol and behavior was taught in training – but was etiquette for selfies and social media included? And, can you account for immaturity of these members of our military? Unfortunately, no. The National Guard took immediate action to reprimand those involved, which was the correct move to make.  
Regardless of what employers want when it comes to employees’ personal social media use or whether employees prefer employers to stay out of their business, there is a line that exists between appropriate and inappropriate commentary on social media. Where crossing that line becomes a problem for both parties is when it reflects poorly on the employer. Otherwise, most employees don’t run into issues for complaining about a bad day at work, a difficult client or an off-color remark. 
In today’s example, I have no explanation as to why a member of the U.S. military would ever feel she could freely dishonor a sacred, important duty like serving at the funeral of a fallen comrade. To quote Forest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.” But, companies should clearly outline policies regarding social media and train their employees – department by department, person by person – on what is considered unacceptable and what could negatively impact their careers. 
Here again, the question arises: where’s the privacy line? Well, maybe it’s not about the line. Maybe it’s about an employer taking that extra step to acknowledge, “We know you have a personal life outside of work, and that is fine. But as a general life rule, think twice or three times before you post because social media is never 100 percent private, and you cannot guarantee what will and won’t be shared beyond your circle of trust.” 
So, my quick tips to employers: 
What are your tips for employers when it comes to social media policies? featured a pretty darn bad military faux pas