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.

Sources:

“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.

Internet linking us to social relapse and obsession

Image

(StockFreeImages)

The trend of Internet obsession in current society has been quickly creeping in for years.  It seems to be taking over all aspects of our lives.  According to Anthony Carboni of Discovery News, Internet obsession happens in the same parts of our brain that love gambling (Dvalidze).  The obsessive, or addictive part relates to gambling because pulling the lever on the gambling machine is the same as rolling the scroll button for our newsfeeds on Facebook.  He also mentions how the Internet is full of useless information that can waste our time, so we continue to browse and search because when we find what we seek, it’s a great feeling: a feeling comparable to that of winning while gambling (Carboni).

Another highly addictive part of the Internet and social media is when people take interest in your online activities.  There is a strong desire for popularity, for people to take interest in your posts.  When we post something on Facebook or Twitter, “likes,” “retweets,” “favorites” and comments make us feel really good (Carboni).  People publicly remark on our statements or activities, which means they must care, right?

Well, either way, I don’t think it should mean as much to us as it does.  David Wygant of the Huffington Post makes an excellent point in his article entitled “Is Twitter and Facebook the end of Society?”  He discusses the lack of personal contact most people face on a daily basis compared to how often we socialized just a few years ago, “we’ve become a society that’s so reliant on technology we’ve forgotten how to communicate with each other” (Wygant).

There is a definite issue with people not being able to part with their smart phones or computers.  Whether it is because they are afraid they’re missing something important happening, they are trying to avoid an awkward situation, or they just feel uncomfortable without a phone in their hands, it is all unhealthy for their social skills, eyes and creativity.

Sources:

Dvalidze, Irina. “Where Internet Addiction Comes From (VIDEO).” The Huffington Post.

28 May 2013. Web. 02 Oct. 2013.

Carboni, Anthony. “Discovery News.” DNews. Discovery News, 30 May 2013. Web. 02

Oct. 2013.

Wygant, David. “Is Twitter and Facebook the End of Society?The Huffington Post.

N.p., 11 July 2013. Web. 02 Oct. 2013.

Technology + social media diminish freedom of speech through trends and popular opinion

         Throughout the reading of Jonathan Franzen’s article, What’s Wrong With the Modern World, I felt his main emotions involved fear for the future regarding technology and social media, as well as disgust at the loss of humans’ ability to function without these technologies.  He left the reader with a sense of inescapable doom, where technology is the thing leading us all toward a large-scale disaster.  Truthfully, the article stimulated some personal fears regarding the future of the economy and our quality of life.  Franzen pointed out some truly disturbing facts about the general population and its dependence on computing devices/systems such as, cell phones, smart phones, tablets, 4G, PCs and Macs, even social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).  I would like to focus on his statements and opinions of what’s “cool,” or “hip” and relate that to social media because I think it all goes hand in hand.  Social media relies hugely on trends, judgment and popularity (who got the most likes and retweets, or who has the coolest insights).

            Franzen made many references in the beginning portion of the article regarding the competition and comparison of Mac and PC.  Basically, the huge “cool” factor of Mac products and marketing, versus the “clunky,” or “unsophisticated” PC.  I found it interesting that Franzen spoke so highly of Mac computers, but decided that the simplicity and somewhat flawed system of a classic PC computer gave his work a sobering effect.  He mentions, “Simply using a Mac Air, experiencing the elegant design of its hardware and software, is a pleasure in itself.” Followed by, “the PC ‘sobers’ what you’re doing; it allows you to see it unadorned” (Franzen).

            I relate this to social media for many reasons.  As we discussed earlier in the class, there is a huge problem with our inability to express true opinions on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  For some reason, everyone tries very hard to adhere to the “cool” factor, and to make sure no one criticizes his or her statement about something others may disagree with.  This reminds me of a scenario Franzen discusses where people feel much better about themselves and their work while using a stylish Mac product.  And on the other hand, PC users feel like they aren’t taken as seriously, or like their work has to rely on its content rather than the sleek appearance of the computer to make it look better. In general, onlookers don’t take people who use PCs as seriously.  This concept is comparable to political opinions posted to Facebook.  I say this because there are numerous instances where someone comments on a political topic and soon gets bombarded with hateful, strongly argumentative or insulting responses (Mitchell).  Everyone’s opinion of that person changes simply because of his or her political view.  That person’s political views define whether or not they are “cool.” 

The way I’ve seen it on my newsfeed, unrelated to my personal political standpoint, liberal/democratic views are the cool Macs and conservative/republican views represent clunky old PCs.  Facebook makes an honest effort to prevent personal attacks and opinion-based feuds with its “Community Standards” page by stating, “While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition” (Facebook). However, users make little effort to listen.

 

Citations:

“Facebook Community Standards.” Facebook. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2013. <https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards&gt;.

Franzen, Jonathan. “Jonathan Franzen: What’s Wrong with the Modern World.” The Guardian. N.p., 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/13/jonathan-franzen-wrong-modern-world&gt;.

Mitchell, Chase. “An Honest Political Argument.” CollegeHumor. N.p., 31 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2013. <http://www.collegehumor.com/article/5996384/an-honest-facebook-political-argument&gt;.

Social Media: Elements of Control

I’ve come upon this rather unsettling idea that social media revolves too much around control… Everywhere you look, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., people are complaining or demanding others to see their way, or to stop whatever it is they are doing that isn’t the “norm.” An example would be a recent tweet posted by an acquaintance of mine, “Anyone who is from the Northwest corner [of CT] was born in a cornfield and is not allowed to use terms like ‘dope’ or ‘dank,’ or I will have to hit you.” This particular strand of emotion is found in so many posts. I know we are all about “freedom of speech” and all, but being constantly demanded (indirectly, in most cases) by others and noticing how one-sided and dominantly opinionated most posts are, can really get old. I suppose the best advice for myself, or anyone observing this trend in social media and not liking it too much, should just escape it and log off. Delete accounts. Revolutionize! –Easier said than done. Guess I’ll keep watching, occasionally giving some positive input with hopes to inspire others to filter out the negativity in their digital communication-driven lives.

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