72 police officers in trouble over offensive Facebook posts is your wake-up call to reeducate employees about responsible social media.

Philadelphia Police - cruiser on Ben Franklin Parkway.jpeg

By ZuzuOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

I’m typing this post in Las Vegas at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition. Several years ago, the intersection employee use of social media and HR compliance spawned several sessions on the topic. I should know; I delivered many of them.

In 2019 however, that topic seems played out.

But, make no mistake about it, employee abuse of social media is still a big problem for many workplaces in the United States.

For example, in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross announced last week that the department had reassigned 72 police officers to desk jobs.

Why? Social media.

Here’s more from a report from NPR’s Bobby Allyn:

It is the latest fallout since the advocacy group The Plain View Project earlier this month released thousands of Facebook posts and comments by current and former police officers that range from racist memes, to posts celebrating violence and messages containing Islamophobic themes, among other offensive material.

In Philadelphia, Ross said Wednesday that at least “several dozen” of the 72 officers now on desk duty will be disciplined and others will be fired, but he did not provide specifics, including any of the names of those who have been taken off their regular duties.

Two days before this news broke last week, my buddy Jon Hyman wrote on his blog about a Texas teacher who was fired for inflammatory tweets she sent to President Donald Trump about undocumented immigrants.

The employee claimed that she thought that her tweets were private. 🤦‍♀️

Now, I don’t know how many, if any, of the 72 officers believed that their Facebook posts were “private.” I don’t know how many of them will attempt to cloak their bigotry in “freedom of speech.” (Spoiler alert: freedom of speech probably won’t apply here.)

What I do know is that if it’s been some time since you’ve educated your workforce on the workplace ramifications of online incivility, now may be a good time to do that.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll lob in a social media presentation pitch for next year’s SHRM conference.

(h/t Kate Bischoff)

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