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Career Confessions: Social Media Mistakes


There’s a reason why (good) friends don’t let friends tweet when they’re drunk. It’s because they have enough smarts to know that it only takes one inappropriate post to get a person fired or in a sticky dilemma at work. Let’s take a look at some people who failed to protect themselves from the unforgiving winds of social media destruction.

(Photo Credit: Victor1558/Flickr)

Most people believe that they can practice their freedom of speech on their personal (and sometimes professional) social media accounts, that they’re untouchable and can say whatever they want. However, it’s that same “that’ll never happen to me” attitude that gets social media users in trouble, or even fired from their jobs. According to a recent social media survey conducted by FindLaw, the following statistics are true:

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29 percent of social media users fear their posts could cause trouble at work. In order to cover your you-know-what, ensure that you aren’t posting anything that could be considered offensive, inappropriate, raunchy, or in bad taste. If you have to question whether or not something will be taken the wrong way if posted online, then play it safe and just don’t post it at all.  
21 percent of young social media users have removed or taken down a social media posting over employment concerns. We’ve all been there, posting something we thought was funny the night before, only to delete it the morning after because it was completely embarrassing and unprofessional. As the great Kenny Rogers reminds us, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” Thank goodness for social media delete buttons. 82 percent of young social media users say they pay at least some attention to their privacy settings. It’s crucial that professionals manage their social media privacy settings during a job hunt, because many employers and recruiters are turning to social media for background screenings. What they don’t know or can’t see won’t hurt them you!

If you’re still not convinced about the realities of getting fired chastised over a social media post, then take a look at these people who also thought wrong … terribly wrong.

1. Anonymous bank employee – An individual who works at a “Big Four” bank made the mistake of publicly complaining about his own employer on social media when the bank’s customer service department was less than helpful in delivering him the correct debit card, despite several attempts. This particular employee took to Twitter to express his frustration, making sure to mention the fact that he works for the bank as well. Needless to say, the bank’s social media team escaladed the issue to HR and this employee was reprimanded (not fired) for bad-mouthing his employer on social media. Ironically enough, this person still works for the bank and now plays a significant role in their social media customer servicing department ensuring that each and every customer issue is dealt with in a timely and professional manner.

2. Australian miners – Approximately 15 West Australian gold miners were fired and “banned for life from every Barminco (the company) project in the world” for performing the popular dance craze, the Harlem Shake, on-site and posting it online. According to The West Australian“Barminco considered the stunt a safety issue and a breach of its ‘core values of safety, integrity and excellence.'” Despite the fact that the miners’ attempt at the Harlem Shake was a win in our books, it doesn’t always go over so well with an employer when “core values” and “integrity” are, apparently, jeopardized in the process of making a viral video. This is a great example of how you and your employer may have very, very different ideas of what is and isn’t funny, especially when it’s posted online for the world to see.

3. Teacher and online model – A high-school Florida teacher, Olivia Sprauer, was asked to resign after the school board was made aware of racy pictures of the teacher that were taken during her career as swimsuit and lingerie model under the name Victoria Valentine James. In an interview with WPEC CBS 12 NewsSprauer knew that she would get fired if the school found out about her side job, stating that it was “a matter of time” and that she’s “surprised it didn’t happen earlier.”

Getting fired or reprimanded for social media posts is a very real thing, and it seems that there are new accounts of these instances on a daily basis. Read more about how social media can cost you your career in this post. Remember, your career is more important than your social (media) status, so don’t let one unwise post cost you your professional future.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you been fired or lectured for something careless you posted online? If so, share your social media blunder on Twitter or in the comments section below.
Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Williams Brown

I agree with the mistakes that you have discussed on social media is highly advisory and extreme.

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nice post

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