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AT THE OFFICE: Don't be a twit when twittering

Don't forget your day job. When Tedrick Housh gave a presentation on technology at the Lathrop & Gage law firm's annual briefing on workplace law, he used that line from IBM's "Social Computing Guidelines." Employees these days have a lot of ...

Don't forget your day job.

When Tedrick Housh gave a presentation on technology at the Lathrop & Gage law firm's annual briefing on workplace law, he used that line from IBM's "Social Computing Guidelines."

Employees these days have a lot of freedom -- on personal and workplace blogs, Facebook, text messaging, YouTube and Twitter -- to say what they'd like. Employers don't have a prayer anymore of controlling their "brand," their public image, on the Internet.

But the wise employee uses that freedom wisely.

Housh told the firm's clients -- mostly human resource officers from Kansas City area companies -- that they need strong policies and vigilance to stay on top of the "rampaging forest fire" of social media postings.

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Example: When rogue Domino's workers posted a food tampering video on YouTube, Housh complimented Domino's executives for responding quickly, posting a forceful response.

Workers who want to express themselves online but don't want to end up in disciplinary proceedings (or out the door) should heed IBM's guidelines. They're easily applicable to any work situation. Among them:

--Know and follow your employer's rules about Internet conduct.

--Be you. Use your real name and don't pretend to speak for the company. In fact, it's best to state outright that your words are your own.

--Remember that if you make it known where you work, your postings reflect not just on you, but on your place of employment and co-workers.

--Respect copyrights and brand names.

--Don't post proprietary or confidential business information.

--Don't identify clients, partners or suppliers without their consent.

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--Express your own point of view, but respect others and don't pick fights.

--Correct mistakes.

Job applicants and managers may be held to even stricter account for what they put online. Just be careful out there.

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This piece was written for Prairie Business, which covers business in the Dakotas and Minnesota. To receive a free digital edition each month, see the instructions at the bottom of this story.