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Tweet Got You Fired
By: Jessica Cherok
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This week a tweet meant to shame lewd behavior ended in two firings. While we’ve certainly heard before of people losing their jobs over something posted online, this particular incident has caused a lot of controversy. Is social media the place to publicly shame people? What if in your decision to call them out, you lose too?

Here is an incredibly brief summary of what happened:

At a conference this past weekend, a female attendee overheard two male attendees seated behind her make several lewd comments. Instead of giving them the stink eye or asking them to stop, she chose to take their photo, upload it to Twitter, @ and # the conference organizers and publicly call the guys out.

As a result of the Tweet, the male attendees were pulled aside by the conference organizers and confronted about the comments. Both apparently apologized, and everyone went about their merry way.

Until...

One of the male attendees was later fired by his employer as a result of the incident.

From there, a firestorm of criticism, debate, and outright threats began. It ended up getting so bad that the female attendee was also let go from her company as part of its attempt to mitigate further outrage.

So was it right to post the shame tweet in the first place?

The comments were certainly not appropriate if you believe that they were said with less-than-honorable intentions. After all, humor is hugely subjective. The female attendee didn’t find it funny, and that’s all it took for her to feel justified in taking the photo and posting it on Twitter. At the same time, there are a lot of people who feel like she overreacted.

But it’s the companies for which those involved worked for that seem to have really messed up. The idea that one person was fired over someone not liking a comment he made hardly seems fair. Similarly, the woman being fired after trying to stand up for herself because the company didn’t want to put up with the outcry is also unfair.

It’s no longer what you post about yourself online, it’s about anything posted about you online. Perhaps it’s time we all review our company's social media policy just to be safe.


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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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