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I wrote a blog post on my personal blog discussing my life and how I joined this company and the things we are working on. However, I quoted (and linked to) a tweet by a competitor of ours.

I felt this was necessary as I had only written the post after seeing the tweet, and it was just me giving credit to the person/company. It's just secondary that the poster works for a competitor of ours.

Today, I got a stern notice asking me to remove the reference to the tweet (and the competitor) from my blog post. Its "not up for discussion", and that "If I don't, it won't be good for you".

I'd assumed that any content on my personal blog post won't be under this purview. At no point in the blog post did I write anything against either of the companies.

Should I take it up to HR? Assuming I'd want to fight this, how should I proceed?

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    Its a small company, and I'm not worried about them reading the blog (its public anyway). I just want advice on whether this is a good battle to fight? I'm not at all comfortable with being asked to censor content on my personal blog. – anon-blogger Sep 17 '15 at 17:45
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    Found this slightly relevant: workplace.stackexchange.com/a/1170/42155 . My agreement doesn't have anything of the sort, though. – anon-blogger Sep 17 '15 at 17:51
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    Also relevant: Etiquette/precautions when posting a sensitive question about your office?. I know it's about questions, but may apply to comments about your work in general. – Trickylastname Sep 17 '15 at 18:11
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    "how I joined this company and the things we are working on" -- did you name the company (or say enough that people could work it out)? Did you talk about anything that's not public? There's a difference between "how I became a software developer" and "how I came to Innitech and what I do there"; which was your blog post? – Monica Cellio Sep 17 '15 at 20:54
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    Are they simply against the reference to the competitor (i.e. don't advertise in any way our competitor in your personal blog, so remove the tweet) or are they against you talking about the company. It's not clear at all from your question. – Bakuriu Sep 18 '15 at 18:00
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Should I take it up to HR? Assuming I'd want to fight this, how should I proceed?

This is very much up to you. Since they already told you

Its "not up for discussion", and that "If I don't, it won't be good for you".

however, I'm not sure what you should expect (you don't work for the mafia do you?).

The best place I see this going is that you ask them to formalize a policy on personal, social media posts. That way everything is in writing and clear going forward. I'd take it from an approach of "let's help each other make sure this doesn't happen again". That way it is the two of you working together on something positive as opposed to working against each other on something negative.

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    I took down the blog post, and will try to formalise a policy on personal/social media posts going ahead. – anon-blogger Sep 17 '15 at 18:11
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    well, that depends on exactly who said it was not up for discussion - immediate supervisor: then HR should be warned about potential micromanagement - ceo: you're screwed. – HorusKol Sep 17 '15 at 23:13
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    Definitely ask to see the relevant formal policies on such matters (it might be wider ranging than just online social media), so that you know where the company draw the line(s). I doubt I'd have a problem with work asking me to not mention specific things (or their choosing) online, but to be honest if "not up for discussion" and "If I don't, it won't be good for you" are accurate impressions of what was said I would start looking into brushing up my CV, especially if there is no formal policy for reference, because that doesn't sound like a pleasant working relationship with management. – David Spillett Sep 18 '15 at 13:31
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My advice would be to just remove the reference and not make a big deal out of it, and if anything simply reply stating that you apologise, that you meant no harm, and ask what about the reference was not acceptable so as to prevent such a thing from occurring again.

The response might be reasonable, it might not be, but even if it is unreasonable, if your job is more important than your blog, I would not pursue the issue any further, and in the future refrain from talking about your job on the internet under any name that could be connected to your company. It's just not worth it.

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    Bollocks. It's tantamount to censorship. MikeAzo's answer is much better. – ThatGuy Sep 19 '15 at 12:37
  • Plenty of people in the UK have been successfully fired because of posts that mentioned the company, and the company declared that the posts put the company into a bad light. – gnasher729 Jan 25 '16 at 22:30
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the things we are working on.

This is already a bad idea.

I'd assumed that any content on my personal blog post won't be under this purview.

Uhm, no. This is not how real life works.

If you write on your personal blog how you hate cats and if your boss loves cats, he might decide to renew the contract of the co-worker who loves cats, instead of yours.

Even if HR would call your manager off, which is a pretty big IF, HR can't do anything if your manager says in a year that you under-perform and therefore there is no need to keep you.

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    Yes, I know. "Cats" here is a placeholder for "obviously not work stuff". I mean in the OP's case his blog obviously contained "work stuff". That's the difference. Make your blog personal (no posts about work stuff, no links). Then you can freely post about cats, even if your company is ardently anti-cat. – Brandin Sep 17 '15 at 19:21
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    @Brandin A simple Google search proves you wrong in seconds. Start with 'Ashley Payne', continue with 'Kelvin Cochran' and then feel free to Google the rest. I can't see any argument that would make me change my answer and the comment section is not for discussions, so I rest my case now. – John Hammond Sep 17 '15 at 19:49
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    I love cats. Can I get the job with that manager you know? – Hugo Rocha Sep 18 '15 at 11:39
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    @HugoRocha Please send your resume to: CANIDAE Corp., PO Box 3610, San Luis Obispo 93403. Don't let their name fool you. – John Hammond Sep 18 '15 at 14:11
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    @brian_o "I think gay couples should not marry." is just a personal opinion, too. Whether something has consequences or not does not depend on whether something is a personal opinion, it depends solely on how the reader feels about it. And the same personal opinion will have different results regarding your workplace depending on where you work. Anyway, I specifically picked a harmless example, because a drastic example would result in:"Well, then it's obvious that it's your fault" comments. – John Hammond Sep 18 '15 at 17:43
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Your username here currently is "anon-blogger", but you forgot the "anon" part when you actually wrote your blog.

If you really want to write a honest blog about your work, it has to be really anonymous.

This is the sole and only way you'll get no interference.

Lesson learned: censor your post, close (but do not delete) your blog, and open a new anonymous one.

Really anonymous. Yes you'll lose your current readers. Too bad: if the content is great, new readers will come. Better do it this way than being subject to mobbing and censorship and risk being fired…

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  1. Immediately remove the tweet. Consider removing the entire article a) if the tweet was integral to the article, b) in case the request could possibly have been misunderstood and they were really asking you to take down the whole thing and not just the tweet reference, and c) if they don't want the bad, they don't deserve the good.
  2. Immediately send a polite note in response indicating that the request has been completed, exactly how you've completed the request, requesting that they review and confirm that nothing further needs to be done, and asking for the company's blogging/social networking policy so this doesn't happen again.

I can understand from your perspective that they shouldn't have reacted this way. However, they did, and it's better to comply and seek first to understand, then to be understood if you intend to 1) keep your job, 2) change their policy.

If you come across as reluctant, defiant, or want to have a discussion before you act, they will get stuck in a defensive position and you may find the environment stifling. Assuming that they are acting in good faith, and that you merely want to understand and are a "team player" immediately will give you better leverage to understand and to possibly affect policy.

Asking the question here and thinking about it for a long time before acting probably isn't going to help your case, though, so I'd suggest swallowing your pride, and finding out what they want before you act in opposition to their request.

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People need to think long and hard about whether they're comfortable blogging about work in an unprotected way. When you start a blog, you have to assume you're going to be found out and monitored in some way or another. I would be hard-pressed to find a law that would prevent the employer from firing a worker in that situation. There is a great article on EFF.org on this, check it out.

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Only you really know the person who told you to take it down. I would consider "not up for discussion" to mean they don't want to argue, debate or hear any kind of defense for keeping it up.

Apologize and ask for clarification to help prevent posting anything like this in the future. You take pride in what you do and want to share your professional experiences but not at the detriment to the company.

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