Monday, September 27, 2010

Facebook Firings: Fair? Maybe. Frequent? Increasingly.

Two weeks I wrote a post advising employees and employers to really think about what social media sites are saying about them (Would you do a beer bong in a bikini at the office?). The response I received on this blog and on sites such as LinkedIn ranged from calling me "Big Brother" to completely agreeing. My personal stance on this matter is not significant; the proof is in the pudding:

According to a 2009 study of US companies, 8% had fired someone due to post on a social networking site, up from only 4% in 2008.
Want to know how to avoid the chopping block? Follow these simple steps. It may all seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people break these rules:
1) Everyone company should have a social media policy in place:
Set expectations! If you fire someone because they talked trash about a client on Twitter, you have a signed document saying they are aware of your expectations and the consequences of them not being met.
2) Pretend Facebook is real life:
Confusing, I know. People see your Facebook. People who know people, who know people, who know your boss. Even if your boss is 92 and has never heard of social media and even if you are only friends with your husband, dog, best friend and grandma. What you are saying is public information. Grandma may know your 92 year old boss and may yell at him for making you work nights at your "suck-fest" of a job.
3) Represent yourself:
Like I said, it’s all public information. You are sharing your status or update with AT LEAST your entire friends list. Would you stand in front of 200 people from elementary school, friends of kids, kids of friends, coworkers and family members and announce that you don't like your job, your boss smells like cheese, your clients suck and you are currently drunk at the office?
4) Use your powers for good, not evil:
For every horror story about getting fired, caught, written up, I can tell you 27 stories about individuals and businesses who have increased leads, built brands, made sells and provided excellent customer service using social networking sites. Make good use of your time and resources; don't waste it complaining about your client from hell. We all have them and they are NOT that interesting.

Check out these unfortunate tales of companies and people who didn't head my amazing advice:
Facebook page by people who have been fired because of Facebook (it’s like a depressing support group)

Cop goes to stripper car wash in his cop car, gets fired after posting pic on Facebook

Waiter/actor Tweets gossip to 22 followers, gets fired

Obviously these are some extreme examples used to make a point...AND the point is: exercise discretion and think about what your posts are saying about you, your family, your friends and the people you work with and for. Use your brain.


PS. If you must publicly rant, do so on an anonymous (and funny) site such as You can also just visit that sight to feel better about your employment situation.


  1. great article -
    I guess I don't understand why someone thinks they have the "right" to say any/everything they think without reprecussions in any forum. If someone verbalizes to their boss that they hate them, or writes a note to a coworker about how sexy they are, or sends a singing telegram to a customer saying they stink - they would expect fallout. Why would something typed into facebook be somehow exempted from ramifications? The "privelige" to share your thoughts may come with some responsibility to think before you type. However, it looks like the sheer number of people who don't think they have that responsibility REQUIRES that employers create, publish and teach good policies.

  2. Good reply. That is exactly what I think, but some find it to be an invasion of privacy for companies to monitor social media sites. Social media is the new email (they monitor that), the new voicemail (you watch what you say here) and the new happy hour (expect ramifications for indecent, unprofessional behavior here). I think it will become more and more apparent in the future.