Saturday, September 16, 2006

Nancy Flynn: Blog Rules

Title: Blog Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policy, Public Relations and Legal Issues
Author: Nancy Flynn
Publisher: American Management Association (AMACOM), New York, 2006
ISBN 0-8144-7355-5
226 pages, paper

This new book, being offered also by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at this link,
is a sobering discussion of the legal and business risks that come both with corporate blogging, and with personal blogs done at home by employees, even with their own time and resources. Much of the "risk" and "opportunity" both come with the same territory, because of the pervasiveness and mathematical effectiveness of search engines.

The book is in six main parts. Major attention is given to employee personal blogging, personal sites, and social networking profiles, as posing possible risks. The most obvious risk is disclosure of confidential information or trade secrets. Other risks could include contributing to a hostile workplace or embarassment in front of customers or clients who could find offending material through search engines.

The author reports that several hundred people are known to have been fired ("dooced") or have resigned from positions because of offending material (usually compromising discussions about the employer or other people at work, sometimes because of disclosure of secrets or securities law violations, sometimes because of pornography). In a few unusual cases there have been lawsuits, as blogs have to follow the same intellectual property law (as with defamation, even self-defamation) as do other media.

The author recommends that all employers adopt and publish employee blogging policies, and she proposes several. My own feeling is that blogging policies should be tailored to the specific job responsibilities, even within one organization, and should be posted on a corporate web site and acknowledged whenever anyone applies for a job online.

This book is a quick and sobering turnaround from earlier books like Rebecca Blood's The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Weblog (2002, Perseus), and David Kline and Dan Burstein, Blog! How the Newest Media Revolution Is Changing Business, Politics, and Culture (2005, Squibnocket Partners).

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