Beware! Careless Social Media posts can get you fired

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 24, 2013

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A leading FMCG company was preparing for a big new product launch. It was a rather hush-hush affair as any information leaking out could alert competition and cost them dearly. Unfortunately, one of the launch team members casually mentioned the launch to his friend over an FB conversation. The message passed on to more people and soon there was a media report about the product launch quoting ‘reliable sources’. The top management was obviously furious. Their probe on the information trail finally led them to this employee. And despite his good performance and track record, the guy was not able to save his job.

Such incidents are becoming quite common with increasing Social Media penetration. According to a new survey by a legal website FindLaw.com, four percent American adults say that something they posted on Social Media, such as Facebook or YouTube, resulted in them either being fired from their job, not being offered a job, losing a promotion, or being officially reprimanded or disciplined. 

Unflattering Social Media postings are costing some workers their jobs and damaging their careers, says the survey. And for those unfortunate workers, there seems little doubt as to the cause. More than half of those who suffered negative employment consequences said they were directly told by their supervisor that inappropriate Social Media postings were the reason; thirty-nine percent said that they were told by someone other than their supervisor. Only nine percent said that they had no direct evidence and were only guessing that social media played a role.

An earlier FindLaw.com survey had found that 29 percent of young Social Media users have posted a photo, video, comment or other personal information that they fear could cost them a job. Twenty-one percent said they have removed a Social Media post because of fear of repercussions from an employer. 

“Always assume your boss might end up seeing that Facebook posting or Instagram photo you’re about to send,” says Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor at FindLaw.com. “Many people think that something they post on their own time on their personal Social Media site cannot impact their status with their employer. Or they may assume that privacy settings will keep their employer from seeing it. But depending on the company you work for and the state where you live, your employer may have broad latitude for firing you for whatever reason. And in the long run, you may never know whether that job or promotion that you were never offered was because of something that your employer discovered on a social media site.”