How many of you have some variant of the following words on your Twitter, blog or other social media bio?
"Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer."
"Views expressed here are not supported by X university or company."
I see this all the time on the interwebs.
What seems strange is that we don't give this standard disclaimer in other places. Do we start a conference presentation with the warning that any opinions expressed do not reflect those of our employer? When we write articles or book chapters is there a standard disclaimer that our university or company is not responsible for anything that we are saying?
What would happen if we all dropped the disclaimer?
Would this "motivate" our employers to come up with social media policies. To provide training, support and guidance around the professional use of LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, etc?
If we dropped the warning that views are our own would we all be in danger of losing our jobs the next time we blogged or Tweeted or something that our boss (or her boss) might disagree with?
Would we be less willing to take risks in our writing? Less willing to say something that may not be fully aligned with the policies or strategies of the people that sign our checks?
How much protection does the standard disclaimer provide? Is it sort of like a 007 deal, one that gives us blanket immunity to express whatever unprofessional thought that comes to mind. I don't think so.
The reality is that in all of our interactions that we are always representing our employers. It is important that we always act professionally, thoughtfully, and in a manner that reflects well upon the organizations that we work.
Unless we are official "spokespeople" for our universities or companies it is not the case that we are ever "speaking" for them.
In an economy built largely on knowledge, it seems that our employers would like us to have some ideas. Social media is one way that we develop, share, and refine our ideas. Perhaps some conversations about how we leverage social media in our professional lives might be in order.
But for the record. .... none of the ideas expressed in this blog post are shared, supported, or endorsed in any manner by my employer.