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White House Scandal: When Work and Social Media Don’t Mix


Some people just don’t get that misuse of social media can be a serious career-ender. Look at the most recent case of career suicide involving one of the White House’s internal staff members getting canned for inappropriate tweets over the course of nearly three years.

jofi joseph fired

(Photo Credit: Sean Hayford O’Lea/Flickr)

All good things must come to an end, as Jofi Joseph recently found out. Joseph is a former official in the White House National Security Council staff. He was fired last week for leaking top-secret information on Twitter under the alias “@natsecwonk.” He’d started the Twitter account in February of 2011. Joseph wasn’t shy, either — he was sure to include a few thousand tweets about his opinions on the appearances, sexual orientations, and lackluster performances of other White House officials and politicians in his tweet rants.

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To make matters worse, Joseph didn’t just put his own career in jeopardy, his tactless behavior may also negatively affect the high-profile position his wife, Carolyn Leddy, holds on the Republican side of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Did he not think he was going to get caught? Obviously, he wasn’t thinking at all.

There are a few important takeaways from Jofi Joseph’s nearly three-year lapse of judgment that can help professionals pursue promising and successful careers.

1. Talk it out (offline). If you have an unresolved issue with a colleague at work (superiors included), then talk with trusted friends and family about your frustrations in person — don’t take to social media to vent about a work issue. Airing dirty laundry online is extremely unprofessional and only proves that you are not able to handle conflict in a mature manner.

2. Loose lips sink ships (and get you fired). Joseph tried to “sink ships,” secretly tweeting his opinions about the White House to the Twitterverse. However, the only ship that he ended up sinking was his own, and now he is out of a job (and career), humiliated, and blacklisted for life. Like mother used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

3. Think before you tweet. You are definitely entitled to your freedom of speech, but your employer is also entitled to firing you for breaching its policies, too. According to a survey, one in four adults are afraid that something they shared on social media could jeopardize their employment, and 21 percent of young social media users say they have removed content from their profile because they feared it could lead to repercussions with an employer.

According to NBC Washington, Joseph presented the following apology for his wrongdoings, “It has been a privilege to serve in this Administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me.” This seems like a matter of “too little, too late” for the former White House official, but he should have thought about that three years ago when he opened up that can of worms. 

Tell Us What You Think

What other social media dos and don’ts do you have to add to the list? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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