Privacy in the Workplace: When Facebook Gets You Fired
We have all heard stories of people who lose their jobs because of a statement, photo, or video posted to Facebook. However, now that social media is growing popular through so many other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Vine, there are more social applications for our employers to explore when deciding to hire, or who to fire from their companies.
In April 2012, the Social Networking Online Protection Act was introduced in the House of Representatives, which will potentially exist to “prohibit employers and certain other entities from requiring or requesting that employees and certain other individuals provide a user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account on any social networking website” (GovTrack.us). Though it has not been passed, it draws attention to the fact that it is currently legal for employers to require access to our personal accounts. While privacy is such an important yet unprotected issue, we must be extremely careful what we allow to be displayed on social media.
Currently, Internet monitoring is virtually unregulated and, unless an individual company policy specifically states otherwise, an employer may listen, watch and read most workplace communications (Privacy Rights).
Huffington Post offers an interesting read about 13 Controversial Facebook Firings. One instance of a Facebook firing was when a doctor posted about a patients condition, without mentioning any names. The hospital board decided that it was enough information for someone to understand whom the doctor was referring to, so she was fired and reprimanded by state regulators. She also had to pay a $500 fine and attend a continuing education class following her social media act.
What we can learn from this is that we should think and re-think what we post before we make it public (including if your account is extremely private) because even if it does not logically seem to break any rules or offend anyone, it still can. Another situation in the Huffington Post article mentioned how someone’s close Facebook friend reported her to her employer and caused her to lose her job. So far, as regulation does not help much in terms of Internet privacy, we must post carefully and consider who may be watching at all times, especially since there are currently so many social media platforms for employers to investigate.
“H.R. 537: Social Networking Online Protection Act.” GovTrack.us. GovTrack, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
“Fact Sheet 7: Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring.” Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Emerson, Ramona. “13 Controversial Facebook Firings: Palace Guards, Doctors, Teachers And More.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
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