Can Facebook Get You Fired?

Posted by Lindsay Scarpello

Social media is now. At least, that’s what all of your professors and nearly every media professional is telling you. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Digg or LinkedIn, social networking sites are the way to connect, personally and professionally. But what happens when the personal and professional become entangled?

In an article posted on Yahoo, Dawnmarie Souza, an employee at a Connecticut ambulance service, was fired for criticizing her supervisor on Facebook. The National Relations Labor Board is questioning whether or not this is legal in conjunction with workers’ speech rights. The company Souza was employed by is claiming that they had policies prohibiting employees from representing the company on any social media site.

In this day and age of branding yourself all over the Internet, what is appropriate to post? Perhaps Souza was testing the limit by boldly badmouthing her boss on her Facebook profile, but the line between what is okay and what isn’t is growing increasingly blurred, especially if you’re “friends” with coworkers or employers.

Facebook started as social networking for college students, and initially no one was worried about employers checking out their profile for incriminating evidence. Now, all we hear are cautionary tales on what to use social media for—even though it started as recreational.

What do you guys think? Would you ever feel like it’s safe to criticize your boss on a social media site? Where do we draw the line on what you should and shouldn’t post?


6 responses to “Can Facebook Get You Fired?

  1. I’ve learned from taking 104, it’s probably not a good idea to criticize your boss on Facebook. It’s tough to follow though because a lot of times, Facebook is as professional as it is social and we don’t really realize it. You forget you’re friends with certain people and you post things haphazardly. I haven’t done it because I’m too scared that it might get back to them. I save my criticism for words and speak them to a private source like my mom or something. I don’t know if there’s necessarily a line for what we should/n’t post, since it essentially runs with the First Amendment. But there should definitely be a line for what can get you fired.

  2. I definitely don’t believe Facebook is a safe space for criticizing your boss. If you want to criticize someone that you work for, you should ensure that it doesn’t leave a paper trail or internet trail that comes right back to you. So I agree with Skylar that the place to criticize someone is in a conversation with a friend or family. I think that the intention of Facebook isn’t to slander people or even necessarily share your feelings. Facebook is here to catch up with friends or network. I feel like if you are using Facebook for other reasons, like complaining about your boss, you aren’t using it for the right reasons and probably deserve what’s coming to you.

  3. Although my first response to your entry was to immediately jump to protect the First Amendment, if the company had a policy against this type of thing, then I believe they are right to sue Souza. Always read the fine print, right? I also don’t think Souza should be criticizing her boss online in the first place. As I blogged earlier, there are multiple reasons why people need to watch what type of information they are putting online.

  4. I don’t think you should ever criticize your boss on a social media site. Whatever you put on the Internet, people are somehow able to see it. I, personally wouldn’t criticize my boss on Facebook, because I know that he/she is able to see it. Be cautious of what you put on Facebook. Not only did Souza poorly represent her company by doing this, she poorly represented herself, too. Social media sites are sometimes people’s first impressions of you. You are putting yourself out there, and you want to make sure you’re representing yourself how you want to be. A lot of companies look at social media sites–so think before you post!

    Sidenote: DrakeMag covered a story about social media etiquette. Be sure to check it out once we come out (first week of December)

  5. I definitely agree you should never slander anyone on Facebook, and I think Jessica has a great point in that if that’s what you’re using Facebook for, then you’re using it incorrectly. But what about just using Facebook? For example, I’m apart of the Meredith network on Facebook but I admit I was hesitant to join–and not because I thought I would post something inappropriate, but because I was worried that even a wayward expletive a friend posted on my wall might get me into trouble.

  6. Criticizing anyone, especially your boss or supervisor, on Facebook is dumb. This medium is public to all and should be used properly: For networking and staying in contact with distanced freiends. Bosses have a sense of humor, too, but still regulate what your friends are posting to your wall. Racist or discriminatory comments are (obviously) never acceptable. Let your friends know why you erased their comments and politely ask them to never post anything similar again.

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