With more people adding their co-workers on Facebook, it’s important to understand the implications seemingly innocent social media updates can have on your career. There are many instances where a social media update can lead to losing your job, including both those that are well intentioned and those that were definitely crazy in retrospect.
Contradicting yourself (aka being caught in a lie)
Before Facebook, it would have seemed ridiculous to call in sick to work when you’re not sick at all and then proceed to tell your co-workers how great your day at the beach was.
Now, if you let even the slightest shred of info make it to your Facebook page, either through a check-in or through a full status update, you can be outed.
• Of course, this assumes that you are Facebook friends with your boss or co-workers.
• The easiest way to avoid this problem is to avoid lying at work.
• The second easiest way is to keep your personal and professional work lives separate.
Sometimes, merely being on Facebook can contradict what you have told your bosses. A Swiss woman stayed home from work and told her bosses that she was too sick to look at a computer screen. When she signed into Facebook from home and her bosses saw, she was terminated.
Embarrassing the organisation
This happened to Ashley Payne, a school teacher who was told to resign or face a suspension for posting pictures of her drinking and using dirty language while on a vacation. She had made the mistake of adding some of her fellow teachers to her friends’ list. This serves as a good secondary argument for keeping work and personal lives separate on the Internet.
Situations like these are relatively new and in the Ashley Payne case, still in a legal limbo:
• She sued the school district for not advising her of her rights and the suit is still pending.
• Many other people have wondered about her termination for perfectly legal actions that were not committed during school time.
• Time and additional cases will probably have to be seen in order to determine where the law stands in cases like these.
Trashing your job publicly
It would seem crazy to tell your co-workers constantly how much you dislike your workplace or that you think your boss is horrible. But people often do this through social media updates, which can spread like wildfire and make it straight to the boss’ computer screen in many cases.
Workers have got themselves into hot water and lost their jobs over a variety of incidents involving Facebook and disparaging the workplace.
• An angry waitress whose last customers of the night didn’t tip well wrote about her feelings on her Facebook page and subsequently lost her job.
• A teenager with an office job in the UK only had to complain about her job being “dull” on Facebook in order to get fired.
• Virgin Atlantic airlines fired 13 crew members for disparaging customers and the company’s safety protocols.
Some people have even lost jobs before they were hired. Talking about loving the thought of the upcoming paycheque but hating the work can get you fired before you’re even officially hired.
Sharing private information
Some happenings at your job are best kept confidential, but the online nature of social media seems to cause some people to forget this.
• An example is a cop who posted details about an undercover operation online
• In another example, a jury member posted qualms about the case in which he was involved.
• Finally, an NYC emergency medical technician posted pictures of a man hanged with a hair dryer cord which he had seen during the course of his job.
Some of these Facebook profiles, including the police officer’s profile, were private. However, pretty much anything posted on the Internet should be assumed to be public whether it is supposed to be or not. Facebook, in particular, is only as secure as the people you have added to your friends list.
Outing yourself inadvertently
If you’re going to commit a crime or break the rules of your workplace, it’s not smart to broadcast this online – unless of course you’re trying to confess and make amends…
Nebraska prison guards who allegedly assaulted a prisoner lost their jobs when they posted about it on Facebook. Apparently, one guard bragged about smashing an inmate’s face into the ground and two other guards chimed in online to support his actions. All three of the guards were fired.
A variety of actions committed and immortalised by Facebook can get you fired. Derogatory remarks about the job or customers, sharing information that should be kept private and behaving in a way that your work place disapproves of are only some of them. It is often best to maintain a safe distance between your job/ workplace and your personal life when it comes to using social networking sites.