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Be careful when putting co-workers in a company Twitter List

Twitter recently introduced a new tool, called Lists, to help users organize the massive amount of information broadcast through the network.

Lists are a way for you to categorize users. You can create a public List for the world to see on your profile, and others can follow folks on that List. Or it can just be a private List for your personal use. Putting an account in a List doesn't mean you are following them.

Although the List tool is a great way to let others know of good folks to follow, you can get yourself into some trouble with co-workers if you start creating Lists of people you work with.

For example, I wanted to make a public List of people who work at The Miami Herald. There are plenty of people here with Twitter accounts, and most people say in their bio that they work here in some manner.

But the problem comes in when there are co-workers who DON'T say in their Twitter bio that they work here. Maybe they don't want bosses to know they are on Twitter. Maybe they don't talk about work and they keep it for their personal life only. And because it's personal, maybe they don't want people to think they represent the company. Regardless of the reason, the fact that they don't identify themselves as an employee means I shouldn't "out'' them in a public employee List without asking them first.

I realize today the lines between career and personal life are totally blurred -- especially in our social media profiles. But you have to respect your connections who are trying their darnedest to keep those worlds separate in their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

That, of course, brings up the point that Niala and I always preach about -- no matter what you use your network for, you should always act professionally. These days, there's really no way to completely cut off your professional connections from stumbling upon something in your personal networks. It's just better to be safe than sorry.

You can access and manage Lists through Twitter's website. Third-party Twitter applications like TweetDeck, Twhirl and Seesmic are still working on incorporating this new tool. But in the meantime, play around to get a feel for how they work. Or if you don't have the time to create your own List, visit a site like Listorious.com, which features some really popular Twitter Lists and you can just follow ones that others have made.

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