Social media often feels more like a minefield than a network. It’s not hard to think back on the countless times people have dropped bombs on their various accounts — from Anthony Weiner’s infamous “selfie,” to pretty much anything Donald Trump has to say on Twitter — and wonder what exactly was going through their heads. Don’t you know that someone from work could see this? Apparently not.
(Photo Credit: Jason Howie/Flickr)
“Be careful what you put online,” is a now universal warning from parents, teachers, and bosses all over the country. Through many others’ hard-learned lessons, the population has come to understand that once it goes up, it’s never coming down. The internet’s infuriating permanence has no earthly equal.
You might think that that would be enough to stop most people from posting rather damning tweets, ‘grams and open letters for the public to ridicule, but somehow the wisdom continues to escape countless gainfully employed citizens almost daily.
Here are three examples of social media posts that have lost a sea of people their jobs faster than they could hit their own like button. If you find yourself thinking back to posts of your own that may run along similar lines, to recall Drake’s most recent album title, If you’re reading this, it’s too late. Delete it, and in the future, just don’t post it at all.
The Photo/Video Evidence
Let’s start with what should be the most obvious. If you’re doing something stupid at work, breaking a rule, berating a customer, or destroying company property, the first thing you should do is stop. The absolute last thing you should ever do is film it, and then post it online.
Remember this guy? This photo, which was originally posted to Taco Bell’s Facebook page, prompted what their corporate offices called a “full-scale investigation.”
And if you’re doing it among coworkers, you can almost guarantee that one of their thoughtful selves is going to Snapchat you all the way to the unemployment line. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Someone can take a screenshot, or download the video, or just rely on Facebook’s NSA-like servers to store it forever.
Ever need to just “get something off of your chest?” You probably think it’s one of those faux-unpopular opinions that everyone’s thinking but no one is saying? Does it have some xenophobic odors to it? Are you going to offend a large group of people? Is it possible that you could be called a “racist” after this?
As it turns out, your entire newsfeed doesn’t need to know your opinions, and someone one there probably won’t take kindly to your thoughts. After the horrific Charleston Church Massacre in June, an employee of Regal Cinemas went on a racist Twitter rant, and then was indignant to the idea that her employer cared what they had to say online.
As an American, you’re absolutely entitled to hold horrifyingly offensive opinions in your heart — but that by no stretch of the imagination means your employer has to hold you in theirs.
Most of us aren’t quite guilty of such heinous social media crimes, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to you. From political staffers to nurses to bankers, all it takes is one bad joke to flush an entire hard-won career down the tubes.
You may think you’re toeing the line, but someone else may take it entirely differently. While you may feel stifled by the inability to freely express yourself, or the over-censoring of our culture, social media isn’t a safe haven from your employer. It’s like the old saying goes: When in doubt, don’t. And it might pay to doubt a little more often.
Tell Us What You Think!
Have you ever had a bad experience with social media? Has someone you know been fired for a bad post? Tell us your story in the comments below or by joining the conversation on Twitter.