Have you ever posted something on social media and then later regretted it? Most of the time, you can go back to delete it before anyone notices. Not everyone, however, is so lucky. Regardless of how many followers you have on social media, one wrong post and you could be the subject of ridicule by millions. On top of that, you can also lose your job.
Want proof? We’ve rounded up a list of six people who were fired over social media.
A vacation from hell
Imagine boarding a plane for vacation, landing, turning on your phone, and getting the worst news: you’ve been fired. Now imagine the whole world knowing about it before you did! That was what happened to Justine Sacco, the infamous PR Executive at IAC, back in 2013.
Before boarding her flight to South Africa, she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Sacco only had 170 followers, but her tweet was soon trending worldwide. While Sacco was on the long flight to South Africa, the Twittersphere soon realized they were watching the destruction of her career, in real time. She landed to a slew of texts and emails, among them a note from her manager informing her she’d been fired.
The unideal pen pal
Earlier in 2016, a disgruntled employee, Talia Jane, posted about her low pay on Medium. This wasn’t just any post though; it was a very public open letter to the CEO of Yelp. As a customer service rep living in San Francisco, she claimed her pay was so low that she couldn’t afford to pay for groceries, had stopped using her heater, was balancing all sorts of debt, and spent 80% of her income to pay for rent in San Francisco.
In his reply back, Jeremy Stoppelmann, the CEO of Yep at the time, acknowledged the truthful statements about San Francisco being an expensive city to live in. The personal attack towards him, however, didn’t bode well for Jane, who was let go not long after.
Baseball fans in Canada surely recall the moment a beer can narrowly missed Orioles outfielder, Hyun Soo Kim last October in the AL Wild Card game against Toronto. The look of disbelief from Kim and teammate Adam Jones mirrored what many other fans were feeling. It wasn’t long before social media lit up and a city-wide search began for the alleged ‘beer-tosser’.
While he didn’t post anything himself on social media, it wasn’t long before the Twitterverse outed Ken Pagan, a (believe it or not) sports journalist. Pagan’s current employee was quick to respond, noting the seriousness of the situation (especially given the nature of Pagan’s job). Not only was Pagan charged by the Toronto Police for mischief, he is no longer employed with PostMedia.
Professor gets a lecture
Last year, York University professor Nikolaos Balaskas posted what was believed to be anti-semitic posts on Facebook, including links to websites like jewwatch.com. At the time, he was working as a laboratory technologist in the department of Physics and Astronomy. A Jewish advocacy organization at the school found the posts and brought them to the university’s attention.
Balaskas was issued a warning, and before the university had a chance to ask him to remove the posts, Facebook blocked and deleted them. Balaskas had a different viewpoint, however, believing he had a responsibility to “promote and bring awareness of historical circumstances” to his followers. He reposted the deleted posts and was fired shortly after.
Last year, university student Connie Levitsky decided to take a part-time job at Addition-Elle. Levitsky thought she was being supportive of her clientele when she took to Facebook to say: “Conquering the world, one well-dressed fat lady at a time.”
Levitsky’s manager didn’t have the same definition of altruism, and Levitsky was fired immediately. After claiming wrongful dismissal (and bringing this to the attention of the media), the popular retail chain apologized and asked Connie if she wanted her job back. She politely declined.
Watching for grammar
As a social media manager, sometimes it’s better to say nothing than anything at all. Kate Nash was handling the social media accounts for Frederick County Public schools when a storm hit. One student tweeted at the school “@FCPSMaryland close school tammarow PLEASE.” Seeing this as an educational opportunity, Nash tweeted back “But then how would you learn to spell ‘tomorrow’? J.” Katie was asked to delete the post, apologize to the student, and was let go shortly after.
Be careful what you post on social media, you never know who will be listening!
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