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Updated : Tuesday 30 March 2010

Being "dooced" means getting fired for criticising your employer on your blog. The expression dates from 2002, and the sad story of a young blogger called Heather B Armstrong, who dared to post entries on her blog criticising her employer’s failings. She was convinced that the blogosphere was a world of its own where companies feared to tread, but got caught out when a zealous colleague showed the blog to her boss. Her firing stirred up a huge controversy in the US at the time, and the term "to be dooced" grew out of Dooce, the name she had given her blog.

You needn’t worry, though, our blogger’s story had a happy ending, and she is now on the A List of bloggers. Being fired turned out to be the start of a successful career on the internet. The same happened to Paris-based Catherine Sanderson, whose Petite Anglaise blog cost her her job. She did, however, land a book deal and went on to win her case for unfair dismissal. Since then, unfortunately, not all victims of “doocing” have been as lucky. So, you should not take this entry as any kind of encouragement!

Getting laid off because of the economic crisis is a testing experience, but being "dooced" will win you respect or even envy. That said, while there is much talk of the risks employees take in describing their lives on Facebook, or in a blog, there have been only a few cases to date of people being fired because of a blog. Just ask those around you – do you actually know any victims? Most of it is simply rumour. Which is perfectly normal – each time a new technology is developed, it generates a wave of rumour to tap into our fears and fantasies. Just think of what people said when telephones and television were invented. If the pundits of the day were to be believed, by now we would all have brain tumours or be reduced to a zombie-like state because our ability to think would have been irreversibly damaged. Business tends to demonise anything it cannot control. Because they cannot grasp all the implications of blogs and social networking sites, some companies prefer to adopt a critical position from which to issue dire warnings.

Make no mistake, though, "doocing" an employee is never good for an employer’s Net reputation. Much better to anticipate the risk by adapting the company’s internal codes of conduct and other rules of employment. And, most of all, groups should be organising discussions in order to raise everyone’s awareness not only of the opportunities of web 2.0 but also its risks and limitations.

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