Friday, September 6, 2013

Social Media can Get You Fired

In case you haven't heard it, a story about a Hamburg, NY Walmart assistant manager has hit national headlines. It may eventually make international news, too, as the story has been run in the Wall Street Journal and on UPI (a national wire service). Haven't seen any international coverage of the incident... yet.

An assistant manager at the Hamburg Walmart posted nasty, curse-filled comments about a picture of a few women in conservative Muslim clothing. The post was on his own private Facebook page. After the post caught the attention of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national and well-respected organization, what else could Walmart management do but fire the manager? His career is over.

It doesn't matter that the post was on his own, private Facebook page. It doesn't matter that his privacy settings apparently allowed many people to see it (and get outraged). Remember the lesson we learned from Google: you have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" if you do anything online. (See this link in case you missed that recent non-story, I call it a non-story because it's been in Google's terms of service all along. What?!--you don't spend 8 full hours reading every revision to the terms of service each time one of these social media companies changes its policy??!)

The moral of the story: What you say online can hurt you. This is why the Russian equivalent of the FBI (they call it the KGB) recently switched to typewriters as a security measure:

If it's online, assume the world can and will see it.

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