It’s Not Facebook, Stupid

“There’s no cure for sucking.” -Mark Schmulen

Some version of this story has been going around the media in the Netherlands for the past week or so. Research done into employment and social media reveals that more and more people people are being fired for social media related offenses. This is unsurprising. As more people use social media, it is more likely that they find themselves canned for a social media related offense.

The article specifies a few examples of employees being sacked due to social media, stating:

“A person who calls in sick and is consequently seen on pictures showing him or her partying is likely to get into trouble over this. A surgical assistant who had been sick leave for months but was still performing with her band was ‘caught’ by colleagues through the internet and consequently lost her job. A warehouse worker who had abused his team leader verbally on Facebook was also sacked.”

These people didn’t get fired because of social media. They got fired because they lied about being sick and bitched about their boss in a public forum. They would have been fired in 1980 too, if their boss attended that concert or overhead the discussion around the watercooler.

Social media has become a scapegoat for many of life’s ills. Certainly the internet has allowed for more access to more information, thus increasing your chances of getting caught doing something wrong. If employers were firing workers over political postings on Facebook or for after-hours discussions on Twitter about drinking, I’d be concerned. Instead they are just using social media as a medium for discovering employee behavior that merits firing.

If you’re calling in “sick” because you had too much to drink last night AND you’re discussing that on Facebook or Twitter, make your profiles private and don’t friend your boss. Otherwise, you’re asking for it.

2 Comments

  1. Sadly, some people here have been fired for making queer postings to Facebook. A librarian at the Library of Congress got fired for ‘liking’ a page about queer families. I can find the link if you want. Also some jobs here are considering making it a requirement that you show them all your social media before they hire you which is problematic on many levels.

  2. Those people aren’t getting into trouble because of Facebook, they are getting into trouble because they worked for bigoted employers. If their employeer saw them attending a gay pride rally, they would also be in trouble. 

    The idea of showing an employeer your social media profiles as a condition of hiring is a complete invasion of privacy but that isn’t really the issue here.

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