Study Finds Companies Firing Employees for Leaving Blog and Forum Comments

Posted on July 20, 2007

Wired's Threat Level blog cites an interesting study that found that nearly 10% of companies have fired at least one employee for leaving comments on a message board or a blog.
Nearly ten percent of companies have fired an employee for violating corporate blogging or message board policies, and 19 percent have disciplined an employee for the same infractions, according to a new survey from Proofpoint, a messaging security company.

Almost a third of companies "employ staff to read or otherwise analyze outbound email," while more than fifteen percent have hired people whose primary function is to spy on outgoing corporate email. A quarter have fired an employee for violating corporate email policies. Twenty percent of the companies and almost thirty percent of companies with more than 20,000 employees had been ordered by a court or a regulator to turn over employee emails.
Wired's Threat Level also notes that Proofpoint, the company behind the survey, is a "vendor that sells message monitoring equipment." Proofpoint's survey is very timely as one of the big business news stories this week was the trouble Whole Foods CEO John Mackey got in over comments he left on a Yahoo dicussion forum under the name "Rahodeb." Mackey's blog was even put on hold.

The fact that message board comments were lumped in with blog comments in this study is a little unfair to the blogosphere but there may not be much that can be done about it. Corporations tend to frown on employees leaving comments anywhere -- whether it is a blog, website, news article or online forum.