Just in case you’ve forgotten how perilous Twitter can be, here are five examples of tweets that got people canned.
1. Aflac: The ongoing disaster in Japan is no laughing matter … unless you’re Gilbert Gottfried. The comedian — who is also the voice behind a decade’s worth of Aflac commercials — thought the catastrophe would make good material for some new jokes, which he then told to his Twitter audience. (Example: “What do the Japanese have in common with @howardstern? They’re both radioactive.”) Aflac, which does 75 percent of its business in Japan, was not impressed and Gottfried was fired.
2. CNN: In one of the more controversial and highly publicized Twitter firings, CNN senior editor Octavia Nasr was let go in July of 2010, after she tweeted her opinion on a controversial Muslim leader. Following the death of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Fadlallah — a Muslim cleric who was a known supporter of suicide bombings, but whom Nasr considered progressive for his stance on women’s rights — she tweeted “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” Her message sent the media into an uproar, and CNN subsequently fired her on the grounds that her credibility had been compromised.
3. Cisco: In an incident now known simply as “Cisco fatty,” 22-year old Connor Riley tweeted the following after receiving a job offer from the IT company: “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.” A Cisco employee saw the Tweet and 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.” Needless to say, Riley did not end up working at the company.
4. Chrysler: On March 9, 28-year old Scott Bartosiewicz suffered every social media manager’s worst nightmare. He sent out a ranting Tweet while stuck in traffic, thinking it was coming from his personal account, when in fact, he sent it from the account of his client, Chrysler. Shortly after sending out the Tweet: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to F—-ing drive,” Bartosiewicz was fired from his job at New Media Strategies, the company Chrysler had hired to manage its Twitter account.
5. The State of Indiana: In February, Jeff Cox, an attorney for the state of Indiana was fired for suggesting via Twitter that police officers should “use live ammunition” to dismantle union protestors in Wisconsin. The tweet, directed at nonprofit news magazine Mother Jones, ignited a back-and-forth between Cox and Mother Jones reporter Adam Weinstein, in which Cox called the protestors “thugs” and “political enemies.” Upon learning that Cox was a public official, Weinstein published the details of his Twitter encounter with Cox in an article the following week. Cox was terminated from his position.
So, the moral of the story is, think before you tweet. If you wouldn’t want your boss to see it or if it might offend someone, you probably shouldn’t share it with the world.