Do Bosses Check Social Media When Employees Are Out Sick?

Most employees, whether they are teenage part time workers or adult full timers, don’t appear to give much thought to calling in sick as long as they don’t do it too often. From what we’ve seen, these sick days can sometimes be “mental health days”, when the employee isn’t sick but just needs a break.

snooWe aren’t judging people here, but we saw a thread on Reddit recently where some people commented on their strategies around whether they connect with coworkers on social media, and what has happened when things went wrong.

On connecting with people from work, the two most popular posts were:

“If you are dumb enough to give yourself away on social media you deserve it.”

and

“This has been happening for years. That’s why I don’t friend/follow people from work. That’s also why I rarely use social media, I don’t want everyone to anyways know what I’m up to.”

Apparently a lot of people feel strongly that it’s a bad idea to be social media friends with people from work, particularly your boss. What’s the downside? Well, your coworkers might stop trusting you for one thing.

“My coworker asked me to cover for her the other day because “her father in law just got diagnosed with stage iv colon cancer and she needs to be there to support him”. Then she posted pictures to Facebook of her tailgating all day and going to a football game. She asked me to cover for her again this weekend and I was like f*** no.”

and

“I had a coworker ask me to cover her opening shift one time. I happened to be on FB and saw pictures she posted from the previous night, drinking and having a good time. She wasn’t ill, she was hung over. She made her decision and did that to herself. I said no.”

You can also get into hot water for badmouthing fellow employees or the company:

“We did have an issue with a co-worker going on Twitter and posting her issues with various co-workers during business hours with it displaying prominently on her page where she worked. She got fired.”

You should avoid doing that whether you are linked to your coworkers or not.

And the people who make the mistake of posting their antics after calling in sick:

“Dude at my job said he was sick and used a sick day to go to his own wedding. Posted pics on FB. Fired next day.”

~

“A former coworker of mine got fired this way. She was supposed to be on short term disability for being in a car accident, but her Facebook pictures had her in Hawaii and other places vacationing. When my employer decided to downsize, she was one of the first to be let go.”

~

“Went to the movies to see Batman vs. Superman with my fiancée after calling in sick. I have no coworkers added but my fiancée is friends with some of mine. Well… like most women do, they have to take pictures of dates & that’s how I got my first write up.”

This mindset was prevalent throughout:

People getting in trouble for this crap are completely stupid. If you lied about being sick and instead went to Disneyland, maybe don’t post the photos from Disneyland until a couple weeks later.”

In summary, it’s up to you whether your connect with coworkers on social media, but if you do, the risks are elevated if:

  • You make negative comments about your coworkers, company or customers
  • You call in sick and post proof that you aren’t

Always post wisely, as if you assume others will see what you’re putting online. The others in this case might be your bosses. When you post publicly online, you’ve given up your right to privacy.

 

 

If your teen or tween is active online and you are having trouble keeping up, we can help. We respect your kids’ privacy and give you the tools you need to be a better digital parent. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

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NLRB Favors Northwestern U. Athletes’ Social Media Rights

Are football players on Northwestern University’s football team employees of Northwestern University? As of this month, the answer is definitely “maybe”, and has interesting implications when it comes to the players’ social media use.

northwestern_u-logoIn 2015, the Northwestern football players were attempting to unionize, and took their case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NRLB ruled that they could not unionize, because such a ruling would create a serious curve ball for public, state-owned universities that play by a different set of rules. On the issue of whether the players are employees, the NLRB declined to rule.

Last year, in a separate case, the NRLB was asked to look at the football team’s rules, which the players thought were unfair when it comes to freedom of speech. The NLRB issued an “advice memo” last month, concluding that the athletes should be treated as employees, and as such the rules – particularly the rules surrounding social media and dealing with the press – were indeed unfair. They stopped short of saying that the athletes are employees.

Despite the fact that the ruling was an “advice memo”, Northwestern agreed to change the rules in a couple of ways. The changes are memorialized in an updated version of the player handbook:

Previous: social media posts by football players may be “regularly monitored” by athletic department, university officials and campus police

Updated: public social media “can be seen by any person with a smart phone or internet access, including individuals within Northwestern University

Previous: players could not agree to an interview unless the athletic communications office has arranged the interview

Updated: players may either speak directly to the media or refer that person to the athletic communications office

While we understand that free speech is important, we don’t think that the players have gained much here unless the previous rules allowed school admins to monitor private social media communications. We haven’t heard of such a policy being in place at Northwestern or any other university.

The most important phrase here is “public social media can be seen by any person…” Public is public, and while many have tried to make a more nuanced distinction, there isn’t one to be made.

Our message to the Northwestern players is to continue to be careful what you post on social media and divulge to the media. Your team and school still have rules that you need to abide by. For example, under the revised Northwestern rules, players are still prohibited from posting “full or partial nudity (of yourself or another), sex, racial or sexual epithets, underage drinking, drugs, weapons or firearms, hazing, harassment or unlawful activity.” Just because you’re free to say something doesn’t mean that saying it is a good idea, either online or in the press. Just because something is true doesn’t mean you should share it with the public or journalists.

 

 

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FCC To Vote On New Broadband Privacy Rules

There may be good news coming this month for privacy conscious broadband internet customers. Actually, it’s not as good as a previously proposed version of the proposal, but it’s still good news that the Federal Communications Commission is getting more serious about privacy. And it’s about time.

computer privacyCurrently, broadband companies can use your personal information without getting your permission ahead of time. There’s probably something that you signed when you originally chose your provider that states what they might do with your data, but customers largely ignore that type of thing until something bad happens. The FCC wants to change that.

The version of the plan penned in March would have require broadband companies like Verizon and Comcast to get customer consent before sharing any information about users with their advertising partners. That seems like a good idea to us but would have put cable and phone companies at a disadvantage versus internet companies like Google, who are governed by the Federal trade Commission.

The updated version, which will be voted on by the FCC on October 27, allows broadband providers to share some of your personal information with advertisers, such as your name and address, which the FCC now deems to be “non-sensitive”. What has changed is that if the measure passes, broadband companies will have to get approval to use more sensitive information such as your phone’s physical location, websites browsed and apps used, and what’s in your emails.

Also, since advertisers aren’t the only problem, the FCC also wants to require the companies to inform you within 30 days if your data has been hacked.

That last thing seems pretty obvious, and the 30-day window should be shorter.

This whole thing is a move in the right direction, but stops short of being a “good” rule. I don’t think that my name and home address are “non sensitive” information, and neither should you. It’s an outrage that until now, your internet provider could scan and use the contents of your emails.

On the bright side, if this measure does create more protections for consumers, and perhaps shines a bright light on privacy issues that exist in the current internet landscape, it feels like progress. We need to keep working on it.

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

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Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Encryption Now Available for Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger EncryptionYou may have seen this week that Yahoo, owner of one of the world’s most popular email clients, has been accused of allegedly allowing U.S. intelligence officials to monitor the contents of all user email traffic. This is wrong, and Yahoo is taking considerable heat for it. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, you shouldn’t be subjected to this type of undisclosed surveillance.

Facebook owns popular messaging app WhatsApp, which has had end-to-end encryption of messages as a standard feature since earlier this year. Clearly Facebook understands that the market wants this type of solution. Encryption is now available for Facebook Messenger, and users (you and your teens) should turn it on.

There’s one catch, though. You can’t have encryption always turned on for Facebook Messenger. You have to turn it on each time you start a conversation.

FB Messenger disappearing messagesTo utilize the feature, when you hit the button to compose a new message, look at the top right corner of the screen. You will see a blue button labeled “SECRET”. Tap on that and you will see the screen at right. The conversation will be fully encrypted once you hit send.

As an added bonus, Facebook has also added the ability to make the message disappear from the recipient’s phone a set number of seconds after it is opened. To set the time, tap on the clock at bottom right (green arrow). There is no word yet as to whether a copy of the message will be retained on Facebook servers or in the bowels of your phone.

Note: If a message that you’ve received is set to disappear, and it is abusive in nature, you can still report it.

We recommend making sure you have the latest update of Facebook Messenger installed, and using encryption on all of your messages starting today. It literally takes one extra tap. You aren’t just protecting your conversations from the government’s prying eyes, but from hackers as well.

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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Latest Android Release May Have Battery, Data and Privacy Issues

Here’s a quick heads up for the parents out there whose kids have Android phones.

By now, cell phone users who understand how GPS location tracking works and what it’s for understand how to navigate the controls on their phone. That may have changed with the latest Android update.

Google Play logo squareIn general, the way it works is that you can turn location on or off for your phone entirely. If you have location turned on, you can secondarily control whether it is on or off for each app that you use, and for each app, whether it is on all the time or only when you are using that app. The system works as described and makes sense. You might want to use location for Google Maps, or to find a restaurant on Yelp, but you might not want Facebook, Google and advertisers to know where you are every minute of the day.

According to a very good article at Naked Security, Google may have changed the game for Android users via its Google Play platform:

“…the Google Play services app…can only be denied access to your location data if you turn location collection off entirely. In other words, if you want to allow even a solitary third-party app to have access to your geolocation data, you have to let the Google Play at that data, too.

And Google really does want to know where you are, because the moment-by-moment detail of your movements is worth money to Google, who can sell that data to advertisers in real time, for example as you walk near, walk into and then walk around a store.”

Having your location turned on all the time is less than optimal for 3 reasons:

  • It’s bad for your battery life. Google Play is constantly “working” in the background to keep track of where you are.
  • It’s a data hog. There’s a constant stream of cellular data communicating your location.
  • It’s a privacy issue. Never being able to conceal your location from Google and advertisers seems too intrusive for us.

While we can see why Google would want it to be this way, this seems like an over reach to us that will probably be changed soon. Maybe not, though.

 

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

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Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Kids’ Gaming Websites Fined $835k Over COPPA Violations

COPPA, a well meaning but seriously flawed law, is something we write about frequently, but rarely is it because there is good news for parents and kids. Today is a good day, as yesterday the NY Attorney General levied stiff penalties against Viacom, Hasbro, Mattel, and Jumpstart over how they use kids’ personal data, or share it with advertisers. The case appears to have been a clear violation of COPPA. (Thanks to our friends at Privo, a leading online privacy, verification and parental consent firm, for pointing this decision out.)

Dora the ExplorerCOPPA is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – the sole piece of legislation designed to protect kids’ privacy and personal information online.

The way COPPA works is that if you own a website directed at children under 13, there are very strict rules around what you can do with the data you collect on your users. Kids’ gaming/entertainment sites including Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon (Viacom); Barbie, Hot Wheels, and American Girl (Mattel); Neopets (JumpStart); and My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Nerf (Hasbro) all violated the rules, and agreed to pay $835,000 in fines and make serious changes to their tracking practices.

In one example cited by NY AG Scheiderman, the state had been in the process of investigation payday loan companies, and found that payday loan ads were being served to users on a website specifically for children. They then launched Operation Child Tracker, a 2-year investigation into how kids’ sites were using child browsing data inappropriately, or sharing that information with advertisers. According to Scheiderman:

“Federal law demands that children are off-limits to the prying eyes of advertisers. Operation Child Tracker revealed that some of our nation’s biggest companies failed to protect kids’ privacy and shield them from illegal online tracking. My office remains committed to protecting children online and will continue our investigation to hold accountable those who violate the law by tracking children.”

Of course, the chance of your under-13 child being victimized by a payday lender is zero, but the risk is that other inappropriate ads – alcohol, pornography, other adult products or services – are served to kids on sites that are supposed to be “safe spaces”.

COPPA as a law is far from perfect. The 13-year age limit seems arbitrary to us, and giving kids some protection from advertisers but precious little from predators seems to be ignoring the bigger risk. Still, some protection is better than none and while COPPA-related investigations are rare, they do send a message to website operators that kids privacy rights aren’t to be trifled with.

Each company named in the complaint has agreed to make changes to their procedures including “regular electronic scans to monitor for third party tracking technologies, adopting procedures for vetting third parties’ data collection practices to ensure that they comply with COPPA, and providing notice to third parties when they are operating through a website covered by COPPA.”

Nice job New York, If parents can’t trust Dora the Explorer, who can they trust?

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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Texas Tech Football Coach Admits to Catfishing Players

Well, sort of. In any case, we’re not fans of this story.

Let us start by saying that if you’re the leader of an organization, and expect those below you to trust in your leadership, you shouldn’t do anything to make them believe you aren’t worthy of that trust.

Texas Tech LogoTexas Tech football coach Kliff Kingsbury admitted in an interview last week that he and his staff use fake social media accounts to spy on monitor players. Not cool.

According to Kingsbury, he and his staff set up fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook and make them look like they are owned by attractive girls, complete with cute profile pictures. The fake account then sends friend requests to his players, who are generally quick to accept the request, because, you know, cute girls… For all we know, they are doing it on Snapchat and Instagram as well.

The coaches are then privy to what players are posting, even in the event that their accounts are private. According to Kingsbury, “Those [accounts] are heavily monitored, for sure,”

We understand why coaches would do this, but don’t think they should. It is spying, and is using a totally dishonest tactics to get it done. We can’t imagine that they’ve disclosed to players that they are, or might be, doing this. When asked to defend the actions, Kingsbury offered,“[Social media is] complete and utter madness.”

That’s no excuse for deceiving your players – players who are expected to trust and respect you. I wouldn’t want one of my kids to be playing for a program that does this. It’s one thing to monitor public social media (one of the things we do here at ThirdParent, by the way), and something that we understand most major athletic programs are doing. It is another thing entirely to deceive people to gain access to their private posts.

Texas Tech ought to know better. Stay tuned for the backlash.

 

 

 

If you are worried that your teens or tweens are at risk, or are acting inappropriately online, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Future Proofing Your Kids’ Social Media

As parents, we all have high hopes for our kids. We have the luxury of believing that they can be anything they want to be, provided that they put in the necessary effort.

As technology evolves, the definition of “necessary effort” is morphing into something that we could never have imagined a few short years ago. Part of the process for selecting Hillary Clinton’s Vice President choice is a stark example of such a shift. According to an article at Politico, which we’ll assume, is factual:

the future“How tough was the vetting [of VP candidates]? Finalists had to turn over every password for every social media account for every member of their families.”

That specific thing – someone demanding your social media login credentials – is already illegal in a lot of jurisdictions, and should be. It is very unlikely that your kids will be forced to give up the keys to their Snapchat accounts any time soon unless the police and courts are involved.

That being said, however, this is an example of how something that can be private could come under increased scrutiny. Actually, it looks like that is exactly the direction in which we’re heading.

Our privacy is being eroded. Your kids’ privacy will be a different animal entirely.

Video cameras are everywhere. Facial recognition databases are compiling millions of photos. Emails are being hacked with alarming frequency. More and more information, personal and otherwise, is being posted online. “Friends” can share your private social media posts and open up your secrets for the world to see. What is private today may not always be.

We understand that you’ll probably never be considered for the VP slot and your kids won’t either. Your kids will, however, be considered for something in the future, in a climate where the privacy that you have come to trust may well be a relic of the past.

The solution here – and the only solution – is to teach your kids to never do anything, or put anything online, that could be interpreted harshly by someone else.

That sounds like a tall order. So is being the Vice President.

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

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How To Keep Your Accounts Secure Online

In the wake of recent large scale hacking incidents that seem to occur weekly, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit an interesting survey conducted by Google last year. In the study, Google asked security experts and non-experts the five most important things to do to ensure security online.

Not surprisingly, some of the things listed by non-experts and experts were the same, and some were quite different. The differences can be informative.

Google online security

The most common ground was around the topic of passwords. Non-experts had “use strong passwords” and “change passwords frequently” in the top five, while experts listed “use strong passwords”, “change passwords frequently” and “use a password manager” as three of the top five. Unless you have a perfect memory, and who does, a password manager is essential to being able to effectively use a different password for each site you visit and app you use. This is significant. If you use site A and it is hacked, the hackers could find out the user name or email and password you were using. If you are using those login credentials elsewhere, you are vulnerable on those sites as well.

We wrote about strong passwords and password manager software last month.

Non-experts listed “use antivirus software” as the most important element to keeping secure online. Experts who were surveyed agree that antivirus software is important but did not list it in the top five. According to them, the use of antivirus software can create a false sense of security for internet users. No antivirus software if foolproof.

An often-overlooked practice was as listed as most important by the experts – consistently installing software updates. Many users view software updates as a nuisance, and in some cases updates aren’t perfect and result in a worse user experience, but many updates are patches to repair security flaws or identified vulnerabilities. If you ignore the updates, you are open to known vulnerabilities.

Finally, the experts listed utilizing two-factor authentication (2FA) as the third most important online security practice. 2FA is defined as combining a username and password together with an additional piece of information that only the user knows to make it harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal that person’s personal data or identity. Many sites offer 2FA, and users should take advantage.

We encourage parents to help teens get up to speed with best practices for online security, and to start early. Once credit cards and online banking get added to the equation, the price you’ll pay if your accounts are hacked rises quickly.

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

On Facebook, Your Crush May No Longer Be A Secret

When it comes to privacy, Facebook is having a rough week.

Facebook logoWe wrote yesterday about how Facebook appears to be making friend recommendations based on user location. If they are, and we think they are, that will put a number of users in an awkward position. It also is a betrayal of the trust that users put in Facebook to not overstep the privacy framework that each of us has in mind. That’s a tough line to draw though because we all have different ideas about what we “allow” Facebook to do with our data.

Facebook came out yesterday and denied that they are using location data to make friend recommendations, but it doesn’t look like anyone believes them.

Early this morning someone posted in the Facebook sub on Reddit that it appeared he was getting friend recommendations for people whose profiles he had viewed. Part of the comment has since been removed, but one commenter confirmed the claim based on his experience.

“Yes, it does. I clicked through to a Twitch streamer’s Facebook profile one time, and now it occasionally lists her as “People you may know.” We have no mutual friends, don’t live in the same country, and I haven’t even “Like’d” Twitch or any computer games.”

We obviously can’t confirm any of that but at least two people believe that viewing someone’s profile could be enough reason for Facebook to suggest that you friend that person. We wonder if it works the other way around.

If it does work the other way around, i.e. if you view someone’s Facebook profile, then that person might get a suggestion to add you as a friend, it is going to throw a monkey wrench into a ritual that probably happens hundreds of thousands of times per day. You see a cute boy or girl in class or at work and you don’t know much about him/her but you do know the name. You hop on Facebook to see the pictures or learn more about the person. It happens, a lot.

It is probably no coincidence that these two issues surfaced in the same week. It could be that Facebook is selectively testing ways to increase engagement, or possibly they are moving forward with wholesale changes to how they use our data.

We should be skeptical. From a related article at Forbes:

“All of this, as per the Facebook rulebook, is fine. It can change its privacy policy any time it likes. It can carry out tests as and when its teams of marketers and scientists want to play, without getting permission. It’s akin to living in a whole new country where you’re subject to the laws and mores drafted by invisible overlords who quietly govern the way you live, with the pretense that this is what you want and they know best.”

I’m prompted to add my phone number each time I log into Facebook “for my security”. They can’t have it. Skeptical.

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

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