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Is Tweeting Hazardous to Your Job?

3394439610 907d99c8c5 Is Tweeting Hazardous to Your Job?

A post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

If it weren’t for social media would Anthony Weiner still be a congressman?

Indeed, along with the other insights and lessons his fall from office gives us, is the takeaway that social media can be hazardous to your job.

Since the Weiner scandal, social media has featured numerous other workers who have lost their job over social media missteps, including this round-up of 10 people who lost jobs over social media mistakes on Mashable.

Even folks whose job it is to use social media are not immune to the repercussions:

  • In March, Scott Bartosiewicz, an employee at New Media Strategies, the social media agency of record for Chrysler, tweeted a derogatory message about Detroit drivers from the official Chrysler Twitter account, costing his agency its relationship with Chrysler
  • This month, The Redner Group, a small PR firm led by Jim Redner, was fired by client 2K games after a frustrated Redner tweeted a threat to withhold review copies of the popular game Duke Nukem Forever if reviewers don’t offer more positive reviews.
  • Two years ago, while on his way to give a presentation about digital media to FedEx communications employees, Ketchum VP James Andrews tweeted a derogatory comment about travel to Memphis (where FedEx is headquartered). The tweet rankled FedEx employees who called Andrews out and extracted an apology from him. He kept his job.

In all of these cases, employees are exhibiting poor judgment and making poor choices in expressing themselves. Social media is exposing their mistakes to the public and to their employer.

So far the repercussions have been at employers’ discretion and not based on labor law or legal precedent; however, attorneys and civil rights group are sensing opportunity. As Lisa van der Pool reports for the Boston Business Journal, “there’s growing evidence the National Labor Relations Board will step in and protect workers who complain about their working conditions on social media sites.”

In the mean time, if your job is to project and protect a certain brand or company image, please tweet responsibly!

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on You can find her at Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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7 Comments - Add yours!

Todd Post (June 23rd, 2011)

On the flip side, a Connecticut employee was able to settle a lawsuit stemming from being fired for what she posted on Facebook from her own computer on her own time:

Alison (June 24th, 2011)

Thanks for sharing your post about social media policies, Todd.

Social Media Unchecked–Think Before You Post | The PRagmatist (June 29th, 2011)

[...] was a guest post on Lindsay Olson’s PR career blog about “Is Tweeting Hazardous to Your Job?” In this guest post, PR columnist Alison Kenney offered up some of the biggest social media faux [...]

JobCrank (June 30th, 2011)

It’s almost like the girl who got fired for posting on Facebook about hating her job.

3Hats Communications: Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media Blog | Atlanta, GA (August 4th, 2011)

[...] your idiot roommate from sophomore year decided to upload and tag. Beyond the embarrassing and career damaging, there’s the irrelevant… too many updates that have nothing to do with what interests [...]

Lindsay Olson » Are You Discreet Enough to Work in PR? (November 19th, 2012)

[...] point, social media gaffes can crack the discussion wide open by demonstrating what happens when PR professionals forgets their allegiances online.Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. [...]

Lindsay Olson » What’s In & What’s Out in the PR World for 2014 (January 6th, 2014)

[...] Swisher (who moved to NBC).Social Media Faux Pas – It’s not a new lesson (see my 2011 post, Is Tweeting Hazardous to Your Job?), just one that we seem to re-learn each year. Justine Sacco is 2013’s Tweeting Before [...]

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