How to talk politics on social media—and keep your job

The online landscape can seem like a war zone these days, with emotions running high and substantive facts running low. Here’s advice on staying professional when you chime in.

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Social media is exploding with political discussion these days.

We’ve all read the stories about employees being fired for something they posted on their personal social media accounts. Are you putting your job at risk by sharing political opinions on social media? How far can you go without attracting the wrong kind of attention from your employer or customers?

The law, at least, is on the side of free speech.

According to HR professional Patty Malenfant, “watercooler talk” online is legally protected. Your company might not be thrilled about what you’re posting on your personal social media accounts, but it can’t take action against you unless what you post is threatening or can damage the reputation of the company.

Companies making social media policies can walk a tightrope. Fred Null, national director of human resources for Barbizon Lighting, says: “In setting up policies in a company, you do have to be very careful, because it is an employee’s right to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt the company. But how do you define that?”

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