Where do you draw the line on employee social media content? How about violent threats?


Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

Both a Harvard graduate and a police detective who supported the recent Black Lives Matter protests appear to be finding out the hard way that posting violent threats on social media, even if in jest, can end up costing a job.

“The next person who has the nerve to tell me all lives matter… Imma stab you.”

The Daily Mail reports here about a Harvard graduate who posted a TikTok video in which she threatened to stab the next person who told her ‘all lives matter’ and then watch that person bleed out.

Was she serious? I don’t know. It seems more like venting than an actual threat.

But, according to the Daily Mail article, the video, which went viral, cost the Ivy Leaguer an internship at a large accounting firm. While the accounting firm “encourages and supports” employees that speak out on issues of bias, racism, and unequal treatment, its policies “strictly prohibit invoking or threatening violence.” Consequently, the company withdrew the internship offer based on the substance of the video.

“shoot the f— back.”

Mass Live reports here about a new police detective who apparently lost her job over an inflammatory Instagram post about a recent Black Lives Matters rally in Atlanta.

But it’s not what you might be thinking.

You see, she lost her job about a month after posting a pro-Black Lives Matter image to her personal Instagram account while off duty. According to the Mass Live article, “the image showed her niece protesting in Atlanta. Flames leap up in the background and her niece holds a sign that reads: ‘Shoot the F— Back.’ A friend’s sign reads: ‘Who do we call when the murderer wears the badge?'”

The detective later posted an apology, which some colleagues rejected. The article notes that, eventually, the new detective received an ultimatum: resignation or termination. She chose the latter.

Draw a clear line at violence and other extreme online behavior.

As I’ve discussed here many times, employees maintain the freedom of speech online. However, there is no constitutional right to employment. So, workers who post on social media — even on their own time — generally must accept the consequences of their actions.

Most employers aren’t keen on playing big brother online, especially when it comes to social media posts shared outside of work. But, even then, there are certain lines that individuals cannot cross, namely, discrimination, threats of violence, and other illegal activity.

Now more than ever, make sure that your social media policy and education informs employees about the types of online speech that you welcome/tolerate and those social media mistakes that could end up costing them their job.



“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
Contact Information