Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Dangers of blogging

I'm sure those of you who care about such things will be aware of the travails of La Petite Anglaise, the blogger sacked by her employers (the Paris branch of British accountancy firm Dixon Wilson) for, well, blogging. Most commentators have been pretty sympathetic, and so am I. She had never once identified herself or her employers on the blog, and never ever referred to the substance of her work (though did refer to two or three humorous work incidents, this supposedly being the cause of her dismissal). Most of her blog entries concerned life as an expatriate single mother, her relationships, and the usual stuff, told in a very human way. I am not a regular reader, but have skimmed from time to time.

There are lines between professional and unprofessional conduct that can be (and sometimes are) crossed by bloggers, and La Petite in my view stayed scrupulously on the right side of them. I'm delighted to read the analysis of French legal blogger Eolas (here and in more detail here) who reckons that Dixon Wilson don't have a hope in hell of winning the employment tribunal case she has taken out against them. The ironic thing is that she was sacked for bringing the firm into disrepute through her blog; in fact their sacking her has resulted in far more negative publicity, with articles in all the main British papers, than the blog on its own would ever have achieved no matter how vitriolic she had chosen to be.

One cannot help but feel, as Eolas put it (and I translate freely), that Dixon Wilson panicked at the discovery that a member of their secretarial staff had a) a private life and b) a brain.

There are better ways of dealing with this than Dixon Wilson's approach. About a year ago I disovered a blog written by an intern in a politically sensitive line of work, which talked perhaps a little more freely about the office environment than was wise. The line manager of the intern happened to be a friend of mine, so I took it on myself to mention the matter over drinks one evening; the relevant blog entries have now disappeared, but the intern got a full-time contract, so I assume that a request to take down the relevant entries was made and acceded to. That is what Dixon Wilson should have done; requested that the relevant entries be removed, and let her off with a caution. (Having said that, she might well have been within her rights in French employment law to refuse such a request, but it would have been a more sensible approach.)

And my advice for bloggers - switch to a system where you can post but lock your entries, such as livejournal. Though even then (as a recent incident on my f-list confirms) you have to take sensible precautions...
Tags: blogs
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