In today's technologically savvy age, much of our affairs are handled online. Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter have taken the Internet by storm. These sites make it easier to connect with friends, family and colleagues, but there is a dark side to social networking that needs to be taken into consideration. Facebook and Twitter can act as a mouthpiece and, depending on how long your friend list is or how many followers you have, you could be speaking to a very large audience. While many people use social networking casually, it is important to take care with what you post on Facebook and other social networking websites, as it can adversely affect your employment status. Here is a look at some social media practices that can get you into hot water at work.

SEE: 4 Companies Behind The Social Media Curtain

Inappropriate Photographs
You may want to scrutinize any photographs you post to a social networking site before presenting them to the public. Racy or inappropriate photographs could cost you the job that you are applying for if the hiring manager views your social networking activity. The practice of employers checking potential employee's Facebook page for inappropriate photographs has come under major scrutiny. Employers scrutinize photographs on social networking websites because it can give them a glimpse into potential job candidates that they wouldn't see otherwise. A candidate with an unsavory social networking presence is considered a major turn-off to hiring managers.

Sharing Protected Information
One of the easiest ways to get into trouble at work due to your social networking activity is to share protected employer information with your list of friends or followers. Many people use social networking sites to vent, which often includes spouting off frustrations about their jobs. Unfortunately, if your complaint exposes protected company information, you can easily lose your job.

Inflammatory Social Networking Posts
Inflammatory posts on social networking sites that target your company, co-workers or your boss can be highly detrimental to your employment status. Slate.com recently released an article that highlights cases where employees were fired for criticizing a co-worker on a social networking website. In some cases, employers discovered the information on their own. In other cases, fellow co-workers brought the issue to the attention of a supervisor. This practice is called infringement against employee harassment regulations, and it can most certainly cost you your job.

The First Amendment Won't Save You
While the first amendment of the United States Bill of Rights prevents government officials and agencies from stripping you of your right to free speech, it does not apply to private employers. Unfortunately, the things you say on social networking websites can actually be detrimental to your job if you speak of your employer in an bad light, break privacy rules or even if you offend another co-worker with a derogatory post.

SEE: Job Applicant Privacy And Social Media

The Bottom Line
Although social networking is supposed to be fun, we live in an age where we have to be conscientious of what we say at all times. This is especially true if you are friends with work colleagues on social networking websites. Although you are cordial or friendly with these individuals at work, it doesn't mean that he or she wouldn't report you to a member of upper management should one of your posts offend him or her. When it comes to job security, it is wise to consider keeping complaints about your job, company or co-workers offline and out of a public forum.

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