Who Really Owns Your Linkedin/Facebook/Twitter Account?

Oct 12 2010 in Networking/Social Networking, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career advice

Who really owns your social networking accounts – You or your employer (or ex-employer)? You might be surprised that these accounts might not belong to you. Learn what you can do to protect your Rollodex and contacts …

Recruitingblogs.com featured a great article a few weeks ago called “Who Owns Your LinkedIn Profile? What EVERYONE Needs To Know” that discussed whether employees or employers owned social media accounts. It’s still unclear, but there are a number of things you can do today to protect your time and information investment in social networks.

First, the article said that it was still a legal question to be decided by the courts. However, a British Judge recently ruled in favor of an ex-employer, saying that the employee built the network on company time, using a company computer, and a company’s email address. It’s much the same as many companies for years have asked departing employees for their Rollodex – Social networks, Outlook, and CRM systems are today’s Rollodex.

It was also interesting that Recruitingblogs.com polled readers if they thought they owned their social networks or if their employers did. 76% felt that they owned their own social networks. The 24% who felt that social networks were the employer’s property were all lawyers. That tells me there is significant risk.

2 major ways you protect your social network:

There are 2 major ways you can protect yourself, even if your employer tries to claim your social network.

  1. Possession is 9/10ths of the law: Use your own personal email, not a corporate email. Set up a free Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo email account – when you leave your employer, the email leaves with you, your employer has no access to your personal email and has zero claim over email address ownership. Using a corporate email account gives you no control if you are unexpectedly fired – if you are given a box and asked to clean out your desk, you can assume that access to your email account has already been shut down.
  2. Backup, Backup, Backup: You can backup your full Linkedin database, into a .csv file that can be read by Outlook or Excel … or loaded into a new Linkedin account. Just click the Contacts tab, then My Connections. Scroll to the bottom right of the My Connections page, and click export connections. It will download your Linkedin network to a .csv file. Facebook allows you to download contacts into your Yahoo account – you can then download Yahoo contacts to a .csv file. Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t have a backup feature – so if you aren’t accessing Twitter through your personal email, your contacts are at risk.

Readers – Do any readers have stories about their social networks being hijacked by ex-employers?

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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