Work Blogs: Just Another Kind of Control

corporate blog mind control.jpegDoes your firm run a corporate blog? If so, would you post comments to it? Employers are struggling with the question of what to do about employee blogs, and their responses prove just how old and out of touch corporate leaders can be.
In the National Law Journal, one attorney tries to define blogging in a way that Angela Lansbury would understand:

“It’s the modern-day version of the suggestion box,” management-side attorney Zachary Hummel, a partner in the New York office of Bryan Cave, said of employee blogging. “It’s growing exponentially and so more and more employers are facing the issue of how far do we let employees go before we take action.”

A suggestion box? Kind of like how instant messaging is the modern day “carrier pigeon.”
And what does “take action” mean? If an employer wanted to stop employees from blogging about their employers on the firm dime, they could just stop hosting blogs. That’s taking action. What Hummel is suggesting is called “scapegoating” one employee that crosses some intangible and ill-defined line and making an example out of them.
The problem with employer sponsored blogs is that they are not done for the benefit of the employees or for “company morale.” They exist because employers like to pop their collars and this sounds like a great way to do it, so long as they can strip the blog of anything useful, confidential, offensive, or true.
More layers of corporate control after the jump.

Glenn Patton, a partner at Alston & Bird, puts the corporate interest plainly:

Today, many employers are not only permitting employee blogging, but they are actually setting up official corporate blogs and establishing guidelines to help their employees get positive messages and images about the company out on the Web.

If I read that correctly Patton is saying that employees are free to say whatever they want if it is a positive message or image. That sounds suspiciously like turning rank and file employees into an unpaid marketing department.
You may remember that Wilmer Hale launched a series of associate blogs right before recruiting season.
The bottom line is that employer sponsored blogs are probably a terrible idea for all parties involved. Employees can’t really say what they want to say, while employers run into all sorts of liability problems when people post things they shouldn’t. The best case scenario is some sort of happy-clappy “lets all give each other a corporate reach-around” drivel that nobody really wants to read anyway.
And corporate blogs aren’t even necessary. Any disgruntled employee can log onto Blogger and anonymously flame away. You don’t even need a particularly strong grasp of the rules of English grammar (just trust me on this one).
But I’m open to somebody proving me wrong. Is there an employer sponsored blog out there that is worth reading? If you know of any please post it in the comments I’ll pass it along.
Work blogs take off, and so do the suits [National Law Journal]

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