I’m a government employee, using tax-paid equipment during the work hours. Our agency has an official Twitter account but I use my personal Twitter account at work to follow events that are important for my job. Outside of work hours, I may tweet about political issues or opinions that would not be appropriate (or legal) if done at work. I recently decided to change my Twitter profile picture (avatar) to express support for a particular candidate, but this political expression would be inappropriate in a public workplace. Fortunately, I found a workable solution.
The website If This Then That allows you to create formulas, called recipes, that cause an action to trigger when an event you specify happens. The event can be time of day, temperature, Craigslist posting, or action by another. With your permission, an action or event can cause specified changes to your Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Dropbox, Tumblr, and many other services. PC Magazine went through the recipes and found 101 favorites, while Mashable identified 14 hilarious ones such as “Notify me when my wife posts to Instagram.”
In July 2012, IFTTT user mblocksma shared two recipes that are exactly what I needed. The “After Work Avatar” recipe allows me to pick days of the week and time of day (in 15 minute increments) to change my Twitter avatar. I upload the picture I want to use to a site like Picasa or other site, or I can use an image someone else has uploaded somewhere. Optionally, I can set the recipe to tweet at the same time and notify me each time the recipe is triggered. The “Working Avatar” recipe is really the same recipe with a different time — the start of the work day — to return the avatar to a work-suitable one.
Once you have altered and saved the recipes, your dashboard allows you to turn each one on and off, test run the recipe, share your new version, or view its log. Other recipes perform the same function for Facebook and other sites, and IFTTT is rich in the variety of recipes available.
When election season is over I will probably disable these recipes, but I feel better using them in this way for now.