Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Air hostess 'Delta' blow

The internet has done many things for free speech, but it also brings it's own risks. Blogging software has enabled millions to overcome the early internet barriers of lack of technical knowledge to publish their thoughts to the world in seconds. Never in the field of human communication, can so much (or so little) be said by so many to so many (as Churchill would have said, had he lived well into his hundreds).

However, as awaress and readership of blogging has grown, so has the ability of what you blog to get you into trouble. For example, witness Queen of the Sky's sorry tale, with her new strapline as revealing as the photos she bravely displayed - Diary of a (Fired) Flight Attendant. Despite no employer being mentioned in her sometimes racy posts, her downfall was allegedly caused by the posting a photograph of her in a Delta uniform, revealing the company and probably a little too much leg.

Her suspension and recent sacking has become an internet cause celebre and poses interesting questions about the level to which companies should look to control and police bloggers.

The power of anyone from disgruntled former employees to the chairman's wife to reveal or leak, intentionally or not, potentially damaging information about their employer is a real concern for those that try to maintain a company's brand. The ability to handle a company's objections to rogue, or otherwise, bloggers is one that requires a great deal of sensitivity. No news spreads like bad news on the internet and the perception of heavy-handedness only perpetuates the legend.

As the medium continues to evolve into the mainstream, we will start to see more and more internal memos and contract clauses relating to what you can and can't say in the company's name or as one of its employees. Don't expect employee blogging to go away, as there are so many positive applications of the technology for companies, just expect to see the lawyers kept busy with some landmark cases, including perhaps our Queen of the Sky.

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