How much of your private life can employers control? Well, truly, most jobs begin and end at the office (whatever form that office may take), and on a schedule. It would seem there is a new era in which employers are beginning to encroach on the private lives of their employees; using the Internet and social networking as a scope.

Its horrible to hear stories of people being fired from jobs because of pictures and/or comments left on their social networking profiles. What does having fun over the weekend have to do with a person being sober on Monday and able to get the job done? Prior to the advent of social networks, one could trip the light fantastic on their day off if they wanted, go into work refreshed and productive no one be be the wiser.

It was also almost two years ago that the “Drunken Pirate” was denied her teaching certification because her MySpace pictures represented errors in judgment, and still there has been no precedent set to draw a line between what part of your public online life should be taken into account for the purpose of employer evaluation.

Personally, I try to keep my image online as clean as possible, and make my privacy settings high. I consciously select the parts of my life that I want to make visible to the general public and those I prefer to keep private. I understand that I have to create a personal brand and while it might not squeak, I have no fear of my image causing damage to my reputation.

However, the fact still remains that employers should not be able to use the information about employee private lives available via the Internet. Except in the cases when people’s profiles expose criminal activity (stealing from their workplace), job related negligence (photos in restricted areas on military bases), and lying about being sick (posting dated party pics on a “sick day”)…those are fireable offenses and should be treated as such.

Having a few drinks during your personal time and taking silly pictures…eh…not so much. The line isn’t super thick, but it’s not all that thin either.