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Fired In 140 Characters

August 27, 2010

A college friend of mine called me recently upset about getting fired from a job. Her crime was tweeting. Yes, she has now joined the “You Were Fired For What?” club and after a quick internet search she isn’t part of such an exclusive club. So when it comes to social media what exactly is the line between freedom of speech and too much information?

Here are some tips on social media etiquette:

Check privacy settings: There is no way to keep people 100% from seeing your information on Facebook or Twitter, but you can prevent people who aren’t your friends from seeing a lot just by checking your privacy settings. Facebook allows you to personalize what you want private from personal info to status updates and pictures. However there are three settings: Everyone, Friends of Friends, and Friends Only.

Everyone lets any one see the information. Friends of Friends allows anyone who is a friend of anyone on your friends list to see your information even if you aren’t friends with them, and Friend limits access to only the people who you approve.

Think Before you tweet: Tweets can’t untweeted. Once it is written it is out there in the universe. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers you would be surprised on how fast something can spread online or who is going to see it. Case in point at new hire at Cisco tweeted:

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

Shortly after Tim Levad, a channel partner advocate for Cisco Alert, responded:

“Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

It is best to keep thoughts like that offline.

Don’t tweet about work: At some point everyone has a bad day, a disagreement with a coworker, or a boss that they don’t like. No matter how crazy the people who you work with may get don’t tweet about it. What may seem like a harmless tweet about what happened can be taken differently by the higher-ups at work.

Also be careful with company information that you post online. This is what happened to my friend. Although she did have a few borderline questionable tweets what really got her in trouble was photos that she posted. Even though she thought that she was promoting the restaurant that she worked at in fact she was posting photos of food that they were testing out to put on the menu.

Don’t tweet at work: There are time stamps on when you update your status. Employers and check to see if you were working or not. Yes, you can make an argument that you were on break, but unless you punched out and were off the clock it is hard to prove if you were really on the clock or not. Remember my friend I mentioned earlier? This was another offense to add to the reason why she was fired even though she claimed that she was on break.

Don’t add co-workers: It may seem harmless, but is it really in your best interest? My rule of thumb was to draw a line between work and personal life. Think of it this way there is information about you on Facebook. Do you really want your co-workers knowing what you did Friday night? How about your boss or the people you supervise?  Think about the work gossip mill. Facebook is fuel for the fire.

One of my good manager friends (I knew her prior to the job) posted photos of us acting like fools. Yes, it was good harmless fun, but when she started adding co-workers to her Facebook the rumors started and before I knew it the harmless night took a life of its own and the gossip started about our “drunken photos” where I had “passed out.” I should add to this she was a manager in the same company as I and she worked in a store 40 miles from where I worked. The gossip hit my store fast. Fortunately I was able to put out the flames fast, but my friend was advised by her boss to remove the photos and think about removing some people from her friend list.

Remember if you are posting something on a public domain it is out there for anyone to see or find. No employer can stop you from saying what you want to say, but if you post something and your employer sees it they can act accordingly. So, think before you tweed and if you wouldn’t want your boss to see it than don’t post it.

Have you ever had an experience or knew someone who has had a problem at work with what they tweeted? What do you think about social media etiquette?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2010 7:54 am

    That’s a very interesting comic strip, I’m sorry to hear about your friend though.

    • August 27, 2010 2:48 pm

      I love that comic strip. And thanks about my friend. She did find something else, but lesson learned.

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