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​Stop Gossiping in Your Work Slack​

Let the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker lawsuit teach you a big lesson about privacy in 2017.

by Meredith Rutland Bauer
Jan 6 2017, 1:00pm

Eugene de Blaas: The friendly gossip. Image: Wikimedia Commons

If you use an online chatroom service at work, make sure you keep office gossip offline to avoid unnecessary scandals in 2017. That's a big lesson media giant Gawker learned last year when their Campfire online work chat records were revealed after Hulk Hogan sued the media outlet for publishing a sex tape of him in 2012.

Hogan's lawyers were allowed to look through Gawker's computers, and they found that employees' Campfire chats included NSFW comments about Hogan's escapades and his penis. Gawker was ultimately shut down after the $140 million lawsuit fell in Hogan's favor.

Read More: Dear Slack, Please Add OTR

The case brought up questions about the privacy of office conversations on chat services like Slack, Hipchat and even work email. While Slack's privacy policy allows companies to set up a schedule of how long messages can exist before they're deleted, issues such as subpoenas and court-allowed legal research are hazier. And some data is retained on Slack's servers.

Campfire's privacy policy includes stipulations that data can be released "as required by law." And work emails can be subpoenaed in certain court cases, too. Gawker employees found themselves on the stand, explaining to a judge, onlookers and other media why messages about sex positions and a photo of an uncircumcised penis were on their work chat.

As media website Poynter pointed out this week, media companies are more vulnerable than ever to this kind of problem. Motherboard, for example, even experimented with getting rid of our Slack last year, for a mix of privacy and professional reasons.

Read More: We're Taking a Break From Slack, Here's Why

Learn from 2016 and keep office gossip at the literal watercooler.

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