Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Increase in Employee Firings Caused by Social Media Updates

Social media is one of the greatest things the internet has ever given us. However, it is also one of the worst. If you are looking for a quick way out of a job, then 140 characters is all you need.

While social media usage is rising, so is the rate of employee firings over tweets and other social media updates. If you post something on Facebook or Twitter and think that it is your own business, then you are sadly mistaken. A lot of employers out there are considering what employees post on social media outlets bad for business.

Facebook has around 350 million users with Twitter having over 75 million accounts resulting in more than 27 million tweets every single day. According to Terri Stewart of Fisher and Phillips, "So what you say is now memorialized in written form. So it has lasting power."

Sure we all have the freedom of speech and the ability to post whatever we want on these sites but sometimes what we say can be detrimental to our employment. Just ask Gilbert Gottfried. Looks like we will be hearing a new voice from the AFLAC duck.

Ashley Payne, a former English teacher in Barrow County, Georgia, lost her job back in 2009 after some pictures of Payne on a vacation to Europe with an alcoholic drink in her hand reached her bosses. Payne released a statement back in 2009 saying, "I wasn't doing anything illegal, I wasn't doing anything provocative."

Terri Stewart, who is also a lawyer based in Atlanta and who specializes in employment law and social media, stated that she thinks the line between personal and professional responsibilities is not as blurry as many people might assume.

"Employers do have some rights in that regard because you're essentially a spokesperson and now what you do in your off time can reach back to your employment," she said.

According to Stewart there are laws that provide some privacy protection in regards to social media. However, if you value your employment, and let's be honest who doesn't in these times, it is probably best to think twice before you tweet or update your Facebook status.

"There isn't an all out ban that you can never say anything against your company but it brings us back to the golden rule: would you want your employers to read this?" Stewart added.

Source: My Fox Atlanta - Social Media Use Leads to Rise in Firings
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