On Sunday night as #blogchat was about to start, I was asking everyone what they wanted to talk about. Chris Heuer threw out that he wished we'd discuss why conservatives are 'fear and hate mongers' and that he thinks they will tear the country apart.
My kneejerk reaction to this was 'Ok Chris is sounding like a loon', but it turns out he was upset partly due to tweets like this that were aimed at his family.
But if I hadn't seen that tweet, I would have to go with my 'Chris is sounding like a loon' conclusion. And this goes back to a fundamental truth of social media; there are THREE sides to every conversation. There's your side, my side, and then the side of everyone else that forms their opinions based on what THEY saw.
And this is why I think companies need to be VERY careful about letting their employees get on social media sites and engage in hot-button issues such as politics, religion, etc. It is SO easy for people to get into arguments about these topics, because everyone has so much passion for their beliefs invested. And it is SO easy for someone to take a tweet out of context, as I almost did with Chris. On top of that, many people might want to stop doing business with a company if they discover that their employees hold a political or religious stance that they are strongly opposed to. Might not be fair, but it's reality.
What do you think? Should companies strictly forbid any non-business talk from their employees on social sites? Then again, isn't one of the great benefits of companies using social media is that it allows them to 'be more human', and doesn't that mean openly sharing opinions?
I can see both sides of this, but lean toward having greater limitations for employees on discussions involving certain topics such as politics and religion. What say you?
UPDATE: I like Tom Jones' (Tom do you have a site/blog I can add a link to here?) take on this in the comments:
"There is no way companies should try and limit what there employees are posting to only company related topics. This practice would be certain Doom to any company that attempted to impose it. However, it is not unreasonable to ask an employee that when they are representing the company they stay away from certain topics like religion and politics. This is not the same as limiting all speech but it does set guidelines when functioning as a representative of the company."