Your Privacy is Your Responsibility With Social Media

While Facebook remains the most used social networking service in terms of worldwide monthly active users, the internet news blog Mashable reported in December 2011 that Google+, the social networking service created by the internet search giant last year, had already surpassed 60 million users in its inaugural year and was adding 625,000 users a day. Just like Facebook and countless other social media platforms, Google+ has run into its share of issues concerning the privacy of its users.

Your privacy settings on these social networking websites is your responsibility, and it is critical that you be aware what adjustments you have made to the settings. The founders of the website Openbook, for instance, told ABC News in May 2010 that the point of the site “is to draw attention to the amount of information about users Facebook makes public” by allowing visitors to search for specific text on the walls of Facebook users which have knowingly or unknowingly been made available to everyone.

As the website Social Media Today noted on January 8, 2012, Facebook has had a “troubled history with privacy,” having “automatically reset users’ privacy settings to public at least four times” since 2009. And in its own rush to compete with Facebook, it appears Google+ has already run into its own privacy issues, as changes to the Google search engine designed to incorporate Google+ content could effectively see “privately shared” information becoming available to hundreds of millions of Google users.

If you speak freely on Facebook, Google+ or any other platform using your real name such as Twitter, you should most certainly check your social media privacy settings. Even then, you should think twice about posting images or comments that can affect an employer’s opinion of you. It is important to remember that privacy settings might not hide everything that you post, and some employers may even request your usernames and passwords. Furthermore, if you were to call in sick to work and then post pictures or comments on a social media site indicating otherwise, your boss could thereby deny you any benefits for that time period. Your employer is not violating employment law if he or she terminates your employment because you used foul language, talked about drug use or made disparaging comments about the company on one of these websites. The only exception is if the firing itself was illegal, such as instances involving discrimination or a wage violation. In those cases, you will most certainly want to contact a Los Angeles employment attorney—and be sure to mention any and all social media posts or pictures involved in your case. Rest assured, as good as your former supervisor might have been at gleaning information from your Facebook or Twitter, lawyers (on both sides) are even better. It is always better that your attorney learn about any possibly incriminating information from his or her client rather than the other side in court.

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment lawyers