Interesting post in Slashdot today. The question is should you astroturf because your company tells you to. Astroturf-ing is essentially slang for clicking the Like button to give the appearance that something is liked even when the person clicking the button may have no knowledge of the product or service. For example you come across a web page and it says 10,000 People like this page, be the first of your friends. Truth be told, 9,999 of the people were employee's of the company. The term comes from AstroTurf (The fake grass) to show it is a "Fake Grassroots" movement.
The moral question here is if this is wrong. One would think that if you support the company you work for you would do this simply to help the company. Company does better, you get a pay raise it all works out for everyone right? When however does this slip over the edge into unethical. What if a condition of your employment is to "Use your personal social media accounts to endorse company products". This comes right after Legislation to prevent disclosure of social media passwords hit the news.
Is this really anything new though? Companies have been persuading people to support them for years. US Car manufacturers don't want you driving a Toyota to work, Coke doesn't want you drinking Pepsi while driving the delivery vehicle. It's clear this has been going on for some time however social media has a significantly larger impact. Having 300 Facebook friends has far more impact than having a dozen or so friends that even know what car you drive.
I can say I have actually been in this position. I've had one of my employers ask me to join and like particular things in my social network. Given the size of the companies I have worked for though I am just a drop in the ocean and not on the radar. On the other hand however, a smaller company of lets say 80 people might know you more intimately and can easily check for compliance. The question is what is the punishment for non-compliance? Can they fire you? Absolutely. Most companies are at-will employers which means they can fire you if they don't like your Twitter handle. Extreme? Maybe.
I think the next few years are going to be very interesting to watch social media and employers. The more employers start to use social media and the more people that are involved in social media the more people are going to be coerced into towing the company line. I think we're going to see the government and human rights activists involved in the issue. The question is how far will employers push this before the legislators have to get involved.
I understand the desire for employers to know about potential hires past but when you have to supply your Facebook password as part of pre-employment screening you have gone too far. Recent legislation is now trying to stop this in at least one state. What I can't believe is that at least one or more applicants thought this was ok. People need to stand up for their rights.
For some time I have bashed IE. It's a non-compliant browser with performance issues and I just hate Microsoft as a whole. Why? Microsoft takes the approach that because they are big they don't have to change. Clearly not everyone fears Microsoft. I read an article recently in TechCrunch (Thanks to Alex for sending it) how a Bootstrapped Startup Saves Over $100K By Dropping IE. I don't care if this article is blatant Microsoft bashing or not. The point is this article is true. I speak from experience that I can develop awesome software then throw it into IE to unit test and have it FAIL! That is unacceptable in my mind given that Webkit (Chrome/Safari) is standards based. The "Big guy" on the block IE should be leading the pack not trailing behind it.
For everyday users the writing is on the wall. You need to get used to using something than the everyday garbage Microsoft spoon feeds you. Chrome is a fantastic browser that lets you use the web. When it's all said and done isn't that what you use 90% of your computer time for? You boot up, you load a browser then go to Facebook, Yahoo, Blogger and countless other web applications in the cloud. Wouldn't you rather be doing that faster and easier? Wouldn't you like to surf with 95% of your page instead of 75% because most of it is taken up with spammy toolbars? I have been using Google Chrome since it was released. I set it as my default browser back then and it hasn't changed since. You need to improve your browsing experience now users.
I believe Chrome will evolve the web to what it should be. The question is will Microsoft be able to keep up with Chrome before it's too late.