How to Avoid Being Dooced

"Dooced" is internet slang for being fired from your job because of what you've written in a blog or website, usually something about the company or organization you work for, or something that reflects poorly on it.[1] If you want to avoid being "dooced", here are some steps to follow.


  1. Image titled Plan for a Second Career Step 1
    Understand the line between personal and professional when blogging. Unless you're minding a blog as part of your job, keep the job life and personal life neatly separated. While there are ways to talk about your work life, this should only be done generally, and in terms of your own supportive, positive feelings, without passing criticism on people you work with or the place you work at. Some other things to consider include:
    • Don't think that you can plead ignorance as to how your workplace views employee blogging. Find out what your company's policy is about employee involvement in social media. If there is a policy, you should be familiar with it. If there isn't a policy, it makes sense to still tell your manager what you're doing by way of blogging if it touches on your work life, and to agree on ground rules.
    • Follow a blogger's "Code of Ethics" even if your workplace doesn't have a policy in place.[2] These guidelines make good sense for blogging generally, as they set boundaries for providing genuine, respectful, mindful and considerate posting.
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    Know what is and should always stay confidential information with respect to your workplace. If you don't know this already, you are probably in need of some training from human resources! If in doubt, always ask. Confidential information includes:
    • Company finances, taxation, deals, etc.
    • Anything about security
    • Embargoed information, press releases, or events
    • Personal information about people you work with, such as addresses, phone numbers, salaries, etc.
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    Know what might amount to a defamatory statement. While what constitutes actionable defamation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the basis of a defamatory action arises when you make a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may put an individual, business, product, etc., in a negative light. The requirement for the statement to be false is needed by some jurisdictions but not others.[3]
    • Given that the statement appears on the internet, it is viewable anywhere in the world, so you must be aware of the possibility of a claim being made anywhere if the offended party believes they have a case.
  4. Image titled Survive Your Last Day at Work Step 3
    "Be ye not so stupid". This is a direct quote from Heather Armstrong, the first well known person to be fired from her job for her satirical blog critiquing her workplace.[4] Not being stupid really means thinking before you leap into the very wide reach of cyberspace. Some things to consider include:
    • Thinking about how your colleagues, etc., would react before revealing their names, lives, and your personal thoughts about them.
    • Remembering that your boss can read just as well as you.
    • Putting yourself in their shoes, or in the place of your company. Would you want to read what you're writing if it were about you? Would you trust you if you were a boss? Would you be happy to read it if it were you running that company?
    • Be aware that what might seem funny, satirical, or ironic to you can seem very negative and non-supportive from your workplace's point of view. It's all in the eye of the reader and if you have the slightest qualm about anyone feeling hurt or upset by it, leave it out.
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    Add fictional elements. If you are blogging about workplace experiences and you don't have the blessing, freedom, or understanding of your workplace, you cannot reveal anything that leads back to your workplace. Change names, dates, and the setting of events. Sprinkle fictional elements through your post. This is a regularly used means for getting your employer off the scent, thereby making it difficult and hopefully impossible to to piece together enough to identify the workplace.[5] How you balance truthful citizen reporting with your workplace confidentiality needs is really up to you but unless you're highly popular and well monetized on your blog, it's not likely that your readers are putting a meal on your table every day...
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    Think carefully about the images that you use. Pictures can tell a thousand words. In 2006, Ellen Simonetti, a flight attendant with Delta Airlines, was fired for comments she made on her blog about her workplace. She could be seen clearly in her work uniform on the site, and the company was unhappy that her comments and the image she represented on her blog were harming the reputation of the airline.[6] To avoid creating harm through your connection to your workplace, consider the following when using images in it:
    • Avoid wearing work-identifying clothing in your blog posts unless your workplace knows and agrees to this.
    • Don't post photos of yourself, friends or colleagues that will impact how your workplace views you. Nudity, crude gestures, sexually suggestive poses, etc., are likely to be the sort of photos that could impact your workplace reputation.
    • Don't post photos of you, your friends, your children or your pets having anything to do with illegal drug paraphernalia. A thoughtless photo of a baby with a non-operational bong is not going to be received well no matter how much you try to explain it away.
    • Don't post photos of your workmates at a barbecue, work event, etc., without asking them first. You can't presume they wanted their lives broadcast in this way. If work sponsored the event, you must ask your workplace for authority to post any photos from the event too.
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    Search for yourself or your blog regularly. This is an excellent way of knowing what is being said about you generally, but can also alert you to any upcoming storm in a teacup that your employer might need to be forewarned about.
    • Use Google alerts to bring back discussions about your blog to your email box.
  8. Image titled Avoid Being Dooced Step 8
    Get a new job. If you really hate your job, or think you can do better, then it's time to move on rather than criticize in such a public fashion while your workplace is paying and trusting you. Stand on your soapbox from some other vantage point instead, such as a new job, or your own business. Beware though, you will be tarred the moment you criticize a job publicly, because you will be viewed as someone who could do this to any company, any person, any time. Do you want that image preceding your attempts to find new work in the future?


  • Remember that loose lips online endure. What you write is there for as long as the internet, in cached form even if you remove it. If you're in doubt, always leave it out.
  • These steps apply equally to micro-blogging. A paragraph or text under an image on Flickr, or a 140 word tweet on Twitter stating how much you hate your job can also be easily found (try it - key in "I hate my job" on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and see what returns...).


  • Remember that even "anonymous" comments will leave your ISP trail. If you're leaving forum, blog, etc., comments from your workplace, you are liable to be in the firing line if any negative or defamatory comments are traced back to the workplace.
  • Don't post anything when you're tired or upset. You can't retrieve it and a sleep will probably change your mind.

Things You'll Need

  • Blog, micro-blog
  • Netiquette book
  • Blogger's Code of Ethics
  • Workplace policy on blogging or social media interaction

Sources and Citations

  1. Urban Dictionary,
  2. See, for example, Groundswell's Sample Blogger Code of Ethics at
  3. Wikipedia, Defamation,
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Article Info

Categories: Work World