Nintendo employee sacked for content of personal blog: anonymity fails

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jessica_carr.jpgIn one of the latest cases of employees being fired as a direct result of their blogging activities, a Nnitendo employee was sacked last month allegedly for content posted on her personal blog.

Jessica Zenner’s “Inexcusable Behavior” blog, though written semi-anonymously under the pen name of Jessica Carr, was apparently discovered by bosses at Nintendo, who took a dim view over some of its content.

Content such as how one of her colleagues provided inspiration for a character in the novel she’s writing:

“One plus about working with hormonal, facial-hair-growing, frumpy women is that I have found a new excuse to drink heavily. Yeah, that’s right, I’m buying Grey Goose in bulk now, and I do not feel the slightest amount of shame. I am awestruck by a particular woman at work; as a matter of fact, she’s inspired me to add a new character to my latest novel. She has the perfect attributes for “Beatrice” (my new character). She has atrocious frown lines that look even worse when mixed with a pompous, pretentious smirk. This person has provided me with the perfect brainwave for my new character; I get so excited when I run across an archetypal sour puss. And it gets even better…I get to see her everyday! My gut tells me that this woman hasn’t been f***ed in years, and is just upset about it.”

Though Zenner claims that she was never informed of any formal policy about personal blogs, a spokeswoman for Nintendo, Perrin Kaplin, said that Zenner “was expressly discouraged from doing what she did. I’ve seen everything that she’s written and it’s really not work appropriate.”

It’s not clear from reports whether Zenner was blogging during work hours, or maintaining her blog outside the workplace. Either way, it does raise the question of what exactly is appropriate to share on a personal blog mentioning work issues. Even if done anonymously, you know someone in authority is going to find out eventually.

“We get a lot of calls from people who have been accused of defamation when they’re blogging anonymously,” says Rebecca Jeschke, a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “In most cases, these charges of defamation are pretty weak. There’s a very strong tradition of anonymous speech in America and it’s protected in the First Amendment.”

Arguing for free speech isn’t always enough to save a job, though companies like Nintendo need to put policies in place specifically covering blogging, rather than relying on statements such as “we generally don’t encourage them,” particularly as they’re not banned outright.

If you want to keep your job, be very careful what you blog.

(Via The Stranger)

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Andy Merrett