When being the #1 trend on Twitter can cost you your job

Since the inception of the first social networking sites there has been concern about the ultimate consequences of sharing private thoughts in a public space. I doubt the majority initially sharing their comments and photos imagined the possibility of losing their job as a result.

In those early days, in the first forays into private space, employers used interns to gain access to the online presence of potential candidates. Hiring managers obtained access to information that previously would be illegal to have about a candidate prior to an interview: race, religion, political preferences and sexual orientation. Screening via the internet allowed employers to take a short cut around accepted hiring practices.

As individual’s online profiles expanded to include multiple online platforms, the public information data base grew exponentially. The pressure to be online, 24×7, posting photos of meals, videos of pets and stream of consciousness tweets opened the door to abuse.

Employers continued to monitor the online profiles of employees and candidates with an expanded supply of information.

Rather than have a conversation, we text. Emotion is replaced at a distance with free associative updates. There is no editor, just ears to fingers to the vast space of online commentary.

In disassociating with emotion, we connect unaware of the impact of our words.

Laura Hudson writing in a July 2013 article for Wired Magazine comments, “Increasingly, our failure to grasp our online power has become a liability — personally, professionally, and morally. We need to think twice before we unleash it.”

If you have online followers, you have the potential for a career ending accident.

Jon Ronson, the author of a new book, ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’, previewed the content in a New York Times Magazine article on February 12. Recounting the stories of a number of people whose tweets slipped out of their control, he describes the role of public shaming that has become a new form of online entertainment and in most cases results in those involved losing their jobs.

Conor Friedersdorf proposes in his article, ‘A Social-Media Mistake Is No Reason to Be Fired’, “…a new social norm…Here’s what corporations should say in the future: “Sorry, we have a general policy against firing people based on social media campaigns. We’re against digital mobs.”

Until that policy takes effect, manage your online communications the way you communicate face to face.


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