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I was fired because of Facebook

I was fired because of Facebook

Last week I mentioned how people say weird (or is that idiotic?) things on Twitter that will most-likely get them fired or at the very least, provide some pretty awkward moments in the office. Well, this behavior is not exclusive to Twitter. Its actually quite rampant on Facebook as well.

Check out these examples:

  • Connecticut superintendent out of job over Facebook comments – A Connecticut school superintendent is out of a six-figure job after getting into some Facebook trouble. The Windsor Locks Board of Education is forcing David Telesca to resign after comments he made on his Facebook page.
  • Hospital Will Fire Workers in Facebook Scandal – Rumors swirled around Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside two weeks ago that some employees had been fired for sharing patient information on Facebook. The allegations, that dozens of employees may have violated patient confidentiality by posting information on the social networking site caught the attention of the state.
  • Employees should exercise discretion on social networks – Social networking can be fun—but it could also get you fired. In fact, that’s what happened to a Swiss insurance worker who lost her job for surfing Facebook after having reported sick. The woman, who had asked for leave saying she had to be away from her computer monitor and resting, was then seen active on Facebook for which her employer—Nationale Suisse—lost trust in her and ended her work contract. The company also banned use of social networking sites during office hours.
  • Photo of Bikini Clad Women Draped on a Police Cruiser Gets South Carolina Cop Fired – A South Carolina police officer has been relieved of his duties after a photo surfaced on Facebook of scantily-clad women posing on the hood of his town police cruiser.
  • Teacher Fired Over Facebook - Harry Smith spoke with teacher June Talvitie-Siple who was forced to resign after parents saw postings on her Facebook page.
  • Facebook entry that earned ‘Lindsay’ her P45 – The worker, known only as “Lindsay”, updated her Facebook status with “OMG [oh my God] I HATE MY JOB!!” She went on: “My boss is a total pervy w****r, always making me do s**t stuff just to p**s me off!! W****r!” Her boss “Brian” responded a few hours later just before 11pm, opening with: “Hi Lindsay, I guess you forgot about adding me on here?”

I suppose it would be too obvious to say do not incriminate yourself on Facebook, but (based on the examples above) no one would hear me. Still, I feel compelled to push a few common sense tips. Puh-leezz people, consider these tips/articles.

  1. Adjust your privacy settings –> 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know
  2. Do NOT discuss confidential information online. Even if you have your privacy settings set for a select few, what if someone on your list gets angry with you? Also, Facebook has adjusted its privacy rules over the years and who knows, maybe they will again. Best to be careful, especially if the data in question is related to your job.
  3. Don’t use Facebook during work hours, especially if you know the management frowns upon it. And if you think you can be (somehow) slick with your use of Facebook, please keep in mind that everything is time stamped and dated. If I am connected to you and can see your wall, I can see that you were on Facebook at 8:02 am which is about 20 minutes after you called in sick.
  4. Remove comments that other people that might get you in trouble later. For example, “Dude you were so drunk last night! hahahaha…” (Would it be a good thing if your manager or office co-workers saw that?)
  5. Check out the photos where you have been tagged and if its necessary, remove the tag and (in your privacy settings) prevent people from tagging you on any future photos.

Okay, that’s it for now. Hmm… it seems like I am on a reputation kick. Maybe I will post more on this. What do you think?


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  1. It’s all about self-awareness. I honestly believe that some people are totally oblivious to how far they are immersing themselves – how much they are giving away of themselves that really shouldn’t be out there. To some I am sure it is nothing short of an obsession. It takes over their very soul when they are on Facebook or wherever and they lose sense of perspective or boundaries. That’s why I think whilst in theory social network access for all in the workplace sounds fine, it will lead to more and more cases of disciplinary action and dismissal as people find themselves taking their eye off the work ball and idling with their so called friends online. You only have to look around you when on a train or in a bar to see how so many are slaves to their phones, tapping away a SMS text or a tweet. It has, as I say, become an obsession for some and with all obsessions there are invariably consequences if that obsession spirals out of control.

  2. What I’d like to know is whether Jim is having contributions made to a 401K for writing this sort of…stuff.

  3. People say things in the heat of the moment. They should be able to vent on their facebook page. I would never give any company my FB information, that is personal and private. I wouldn’t want to work for an emlployer that feels the need to pry in their employee’s personal life. You wanna know how I do my job ask for references, how I live my life… none of your damn business

  4. I personally disagree with getting fired for things on facebook. Maybe if you are slamming your job or boss.. OR if you work in an environment where privacy is important (medical field for one) then I can understand that. But having “party photos” or talking about being drunk should not be something that is related to your work ethic. People can party in their off hours and still be responsible adults. IF they are going their job well, then their “private life” on facebook, is theirs.

  5. While I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that disclosing private information online can get you fired, I still am amazed that employers can fire an individual for logging onto the social networking site when sick.

    Freedom of speech? Do we have freedom of speech anymore? What is said on our own personal time shouldn’t have implications for our jobs.

    Of course, who has personal time..

  6. I was fired because I said my.coworkers was gettn on my nerves felt like slapping them n was told I violeted there policy tht not in handbook my page is private and had a coworker I no longer was friends et but didnt block them and she showed them what I wrote so they said because they were listed as my employer I was wrong I stated tell my attorney.

  7. Jim,
    With one possible exception, there can be little surprise these people got fired. If medical staff gave out my personal details in the pub, or employees behaving in ways which would be considered inappropriate in a public place (particularly police officers or teachers,)then they deserve to be fired. If you discussed with colleagues your negative opinions of your boss or employer and it gets back, there will be consequences. This was the case in employment contracts before Facebook, and has not changed since. Setting privacy settings on Facebook closes too many doors to opportunities. Better to understand that Facebook is a public place and apply common sense over content. The laws, and employment contracts haven’t changed as a result of Facebook, people need to apply common sense and be aware of what is permitted for public consumption.

  8. Most of these people were fired or forced to resign because they did or said something stupid.

    So Facebook has actually a positive role in making people understand that you do have the freedom to say anything you want but you cannot offend others. And honestly, when you do something stupid, you should be ashamed of it, not share it with your friends.

    • “So Facebook has actually a positive role in making people understand that you do have the freedom to say anything you want but you cannot offend others.”

      So if we are talking about general communication, that isn’t freedom, then. Because some people are just going to be offended by certain topics, no matter how gently or tactfully you express yourself.

      But what this article is saying is people are finally having to realize that they should be thinking about how what they are saying/doing would look to their boss. Even if he is easily offended, your choice is still to rein yourself in or get another job.

  9. My troubles had nothing to do with facebook…I allegedly got tired of allegedly being asked to do illegal stuff at my state job, allegedly. But, I have never told anyone on facebook why I left my job even when they asked because I don’t want to get sued. Even though that (and probably most) state universities allegedly need to be investigated by the state and federal authorities.

  10. As with most things, this has two sides:

    On the one hand, keep in mind that these are “social sites” and most people have access to them. So don’t say something or show something you would not want your family to see or know about.

    On the other hand these are social sites and what you say and do on them should not have a negative impact on your job, unless your job depends on social interaction.

    If you loose your job because of something you said or did on a social media site you probably were close to being fired anyway.

  11. Wow thatssome messed up stuff dude, Seriously.

  12. I had a girlfriend who lost her job because her husband said something negative about her job/boss on Facebook and she was friends with him. It’s a lesson to learn in watching what you say, or putting limits on the amount of info people like bosses can see on your Facebook page.

  13. I am a HR person and I have a different view. I know that social media is open but there is some expectation of privacy. I personally blocked all Admins and Mngers from my job on my fb and have privacy settings on my twitter. I believe I have a right to say, I had the worse workday today and am a lil annoyed, I’m gonna calm myself with a bath, without thinking omg I can be fired for it. You reach more ppl when you bad mouth companies thru friends, family, and associates, than 200 FB friends.

  14. Think of Facebook as the water cooler, the Monday morning meeting before the boss comes in, and your high school reunion rolled into one… if you wouldn’t want your boss to overhear something as he or she walks by you, you probably shouldn’t write it on Facebook. Words have meaning, written or spoken. Choose wisely.

  15. One of my former employees posted an “I like pot” sticker/button, or something like that on her facebook page. Then she was pissed at me for noticing because she felt like she had to take it down. Not quite sure why her drug habits were my fault….???

  16. If you are going to be slow enough to be specific about your job, what you hate, the people you work with – well, there are consequences.

    But what happens when you get fired for blogging – after hours, on your own time – about general issues faced by every startup company out there? Again, no specifics, but there is no way to control a narcissistic CEO from reading himself in to a blog that doesn’t name him and is so generic as to be boring.

    Keep in mind, communication is a two way street, even social media, and you can’t control the way a reader will interpret what you are saying. Just use common sense.

  17. I was “Fired over Foursquare” and I wrote about it. The Blog put me in Social Media Heaven. Thank you, “Blank,” my ex boss. I now work where I am appreciated.

  18. This holds a lot of merit. Have I gone on FB and twitter at work? Yes, a lot of people do, esp when there is downtime. If I am at home sick, I’m sick, I don’t go on computer, but some people may be antsy during recovery and that’s okay! So it’s okay to read a book, but can’t show anyone? Oh brother.

  19. Thank you everyone for your comments! they are all very much appreciated.


  20. I have a friend who is an employment counselor (you know, that person who teaches others how to get and keep a job).

    He was laid off, and took him about 6 months to get a new job in a related field. Within a few days he was posting how he did not like this new job but he would put up with it until something he really wanted came along. He also posted that he was continuing to look for a “good” job.

  21. Oh my gosh, that last one is too much!!! Cannot believe she did that. I always worry about my friends who complain about their jobs on FB.

    Even I, who works for myself, don’t do it. I have FB friends that either are or could be or know other people who are my clients. In fact, I even created a separate list called “Business” where I stick people who would rather not hear my complain about my bug bites on FB. It’s just common sense.

    Thanks for the laugh (however sad this all is).

  22. I agree with Jeffrey on that one. When you are home sick, how much TV can you stand?

    Now, if you have Foursquare connected to Facebook and it says you “just checked in to Macy’s Big Sale” at 10 AM on a day when you are supposed to be sick, then you are stupid as well.

  23. Jeffrey J Kingman

    Honestly, getting fired for being online on Facebook after calling in sick?

    Has anyone ever checked their laptop while they are sick in bed? That doesn’t make sense, sorry.

  24. I never do that on Twitter or on Facebook.

    I just visit sites and share them on Twitter and Facebook.

    There is nothing personnal on either my accounts.

    It’s kind of crap that you can’t do nothing anymore.

  25. Think of it like the employment version of the Darwin Law.

    Sad. Really really sad.

  26. Jim, it seems like you shouldn’t have to keep harping on this stuff. But like Kali says, it is hard to feel sorry for them anymore.

    Someone has to get this through their heads, it may as well be you. You have really been providing some interesting information and resources to help people not only adjust their privacy settings but to actually curb their bad behavior.

    I enjoy these articles, keep them coming.

  27. Stupidity has its consequences.

  28. I cannot believe this is still happening. I refuse to feel sorry for these people any more. We all know that social media is just that: social. Our bosses, grandparents and everyone can see our stuff- even with privacy levels.

    It’s Darwinism in the work place and I’ll get to rise to the top thanks to it.

  29. This is such a crazy area, even on social networking sites people feel they have some anonymity. They may just as well stand outside their workplace and shout out their comments.
    My boss can be such an old grouch too, but I can get away with saying that, I am self employed.

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