A social media lesson to share with your workforce

By now, we all must have a great story. Maybe it’s about a co-worker. Or more likely, something we read online — probably on this blog. Each of us knows about someone who, in a single careless tweet, status update, or selfie . . . lost their job.

A little over a year ago, I wrote here about Justine Sacco, a former PR Executive from IAC, which owns such online publications as The Daily Beast, Match.com, About.com, and several others. Just before boarding a flight to South Africa, Ms. Sacco tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white.” During her flight, Ms. Sacco’s insensitive tweet was retweeted over 3,000 times and picked up by several media outlets around the world. It even spawned the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet, which trended on Twitter during her flight. She had only 170 followers on Twitter.

As you can imagine, that tweet earned Ms. Sacco a pink slip. But, to this day, that single tweet and all of the notoriety that followed still haunts her.

Social media is an on-the-clock, off-the-clock, 24/7 reality that can and will permeate your workplace. Fortunately, the benefits generally outweigh the risks. But, if we each have a story about social media and the workplace, how come so many of those stories involve a gaffe, rather than a gold star.

So, I commend each of you to read this recent article about Ms. Sacco from Jon Ronson at The New York Times. Indeed, I highly recommend that you forward it to others in your workplace. (Or just forward this post). And use it as part of your next social media training session.

Think before you hit send.

[UPDATE: Serendipitously, Pete D’Amato at UK’s Daily Mail shares this update on a woman who lost her job following her Facebook photo of an obscene gesture at Arlington National Cemetery. I previously addressed it here].

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