Fired for Facebook Posts

October is National Cyber Safety Awareness Month, however we also should take caution to what we are posting online – and this may be the reminder we need.

You posted what?!
As we live more of our lives online, social media has become the new water cooler for employees to discuss working conditions. On one hand, employers have the fear of disgruntled employees doing some serious brand damage online. On the other, they have the risk of being sued for violating federal law.

Source: Online Paralegal Programs

Everybody’s Online: At Least Almost Everybody

7 in 10
Adult Internet users who use social networking sites
The younger the worker, the more likely they use social media:
Percentage of social media use by age group
18-29 83%
30-49 77%
50-64 52%
65+ 32%
15½ hours
Average amount of time spent per month on Facebook
1 in 4
Facebook users who don’t manage their privacy settings
6 in 10
Workers who say they are unsatisfied with their jobs
What does all of this mean? That you probably use Facebook or other forms of social media, and you use it a lot. It also means you’ve probably got some things to gripe about once you get home from work. It’s not a leap to say it’s at least tempting to unload your job dissatisfaction on social media. But be careful …

What the Law Says

What about free speech, you ask? The First Amendment protects you from legal consequences of protected speech, but it doesn’t mean you are immune from all negative effects. You would probably expect to be fired—or at least reprimanded—if you insulted your boss to her face, so you should expect it if you do so online and the wrong person finds out.
But laws vary by state, as more lawmakers are recognizing and protecting the rights of employees in their off-the-clock communications. Generally speaking, an employer can intervene when:

  • An employee posts during work hours
  • An employee’s posts endanger the company (such as by revealing confidential information)

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employers cannot fire workers acting with other employees to initiate a group action against a perceived injustice by their employer.

It’s Happening Everywhere

Here’s just a sampling of the stories of workers who were fired for what they said in social media:
Where: London, Buckingham Palace
Who: Palace guard
Why: The 18-year-old guard slammed Kate Middleton in a Facebook post

Where: O’Hare Airport, Chicago
Who: TSA baggage screener
Why: The nine-year TSA veteran repeatedly went on racist and homophobic rants publicly on Facebook

Where: Rhode Island
Who: Physician
Why: A 48-year-old doctor at a hospital posted information about an emergency room patient

Where: Arkansas
Who: Police officer
Why: The office posted a warning to residents not to drink and drive; his supervisor said the post compromised a planned DUI checkpoint

Where: Michigan
Who: Community college professor
Why: The professor used the story of a failing student in a status update

Where: Massachusetts
Who: Firefighter/paramedic
Why: Posting negative things about gays, mentally challenged people, public officials and others who disagreed with him

Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Who: Several hospital employees
Why: A worker snapped a photo of a woman he thought was attractive and shared it on Facebook; he was fired and so were his coworkers who “liked” the photo

Where: Chicago
Who: Bartender
Why: Making racist comments that soon went viral

Not Fired — Not Even Hired
The other part of this equation is making sure your online persona is clean to begin with, because potential employers are watching.
3 in 4
Recruiters required to conduct online research on candidates
Recruiters who have rejected candidates based on online investigations
What employers are looking for:
65% Does the candidate present himself or herself professionally?
51% Is the candidate a good fit for company culture?
51% Want to learn more about qualifications
35% Is the candidate well-rounded
12% Reasons not to hire the candidate



Sue Scheff: Don’t Get Caught Online Naked!

  • Are you looking for employment?
  • Is your teen applying to colleges?
  • Do you run a small business?
  • Are you dating online?
  • Does your career depend on your reputation?

It’s official; PEW study shows that about 75% of all Americans are using the Internet. More importantly over 53% of people are Googling each other! Do you know what Google is saying about you?

If you fall in any of the categories above, you have reason to be concerned about your virtual image. Being caught naked online doesn’t necessarily mean “butt” naked, however it does mean virtually exposed in ways that may not be flattering to you or your quest in life.

Google Bomb, The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict that Changed The Way We Use The Internet, is a great place to start on repairing and/or polishing your online image. Learn from my story, gain from my virtual disaster that lead to an awareness of the power of a keystroke. Google Bomb also offers great tools to help you dress yourself up online.

For more great tips  on maintaining your virtual profile, visit my series on Virtual Vanity.

Order Google Bomb book today and take control of your wardrobe virtually – remember, whether you are applying for a job, going on a date, or interviewing for admissions at a college – chances are very high someone will be Googling you.

What is a Google bomb?

Google Bomb (n) or “link bomb”: Internet slang for a certain kind of attempt to raise the ranking of a given page in results from a Google search. (Wikipedia)

Insure your cyber profile.  Learn how to wear your virtual clothes.

Also on Examiner.

Sue Scheff: 2010 Social Media Predictions by Michael Fertik

This week CEO and Founder of Reputation Defender, Michael Fertik gives some fantastic 2010 Social Media Predictions that can help you help your future – technically.
In many ways, 2009 was a banner year for social media. While pioneering sites like Friendster were forced to finally cut their losses and sell, others, like Facebook, eclipsed 350 million users, setting a new precedent for social networking websites. With its 140 character “tweets,” Twitter brought micro-blogging to the masses, becoming one of the most talked about new companies in the world in the process.

Will social media continue to expand in 2010? Most experts agree that social media is more than just a fad, and will continue to be an integral part of our lives in the years to come. Perhaps nowhere will the importance of social media be felt than in the area of personal branding and online reputation management.

Recently, in a guest column for ZDNet, ReptuationDefender CEO Michael Fertik shared his social media predictions for the new year, and why he believes that 2010 will be the year of “Atomic Branding.” Check out Michael’s insights here.

Sue Scheff: Ouch! That wasn’t nice! Online Slime

What is Virtual Vanity? OUCH – it will hurt if not attended to.

What happens when you do find or see negative or not so nice comments about you online?  What happens when you read outright lies and twisted truths?  It can hurt, but it will hurt more (virtually speaking) if you engage.  Especially if you see some websites that seem like consumer protection websites, grievance sites, complaint forums etc.  Although some may be legit, there are many that are not.  Read about them in Google Bomb.

How to approach negative content:

•Be sure your early warning system is in place -set up Google Alerts and BackType
•Never, ever engage in it. Don’t fuel or feed it. That is exactly what the perpetrator wants, keep your cool and work diplomatically to get it removed.
•Determine the website that the negative content is posted on – look for the TOS (Terms of Service) or Code of Conduct
•Read the TOS (Terms of Service) or Code of Conduct and determine if the post is violating any of them such as: abusive language, slanderous content, harassing etc.
•Write the Support Team at the website and bring the post to their attention and exactly how it is violating its TOS and politely and professional ask them to remove it.
•Retain an online reputation service, they are usually the pros and cost effective verses the legal road.
•Last and most costly is retaining an attorney. Cease and desist letters are cost effective (usually approx $1000) however if you are not ready to litigate, I would recommend you don’t send one – most will take the letters and post them, and it will get worse for you.

Take control of your virtual presence today. <<< Go back.

What is virtual vanity? <<< Go back.

For more information, order Google Bomb today.  This book can literally save you from many Internet errors with your virtual image.  The approximately $10.00 book is priceless in value!