A dark expression “You’re Fired” is mainly associated with Donald Trump, who has made it his trademark. But Mr. Trump may lose the monopoly of the term, since he has a strong competitor in social networking. Or maybe the digital firing engine will come up with a more specific catch phrase, like “We’ll get you fired!” or “You’ll get yourself fired, just share your info with us!”
In any case, people are actively losing their jobs over their networking activities.
- A pizzeria waitress complained on Facebook about a cheap tip she received. The restaurant’s owners saw the post and fired the girl for breaking a rule about disparaging customers. And, yes, she was speaking about these customers sort of... unsympathetically.
- Two local Domino’s Pizza employees posted a prank on YouTube, featuring the most disgusting ways, food workers can assault customer’s food. The pranksters seemed really enjoying blending their bodily fluids with healthy ingredients. Very funny. Ha-ha-ha. Not anymore. End of employment, end of enjoyment, and possible criminal charges.
- 13 flight attendants used Facebook to discuss some job issues, like frequent engine replacements and cockroaches in the cabins. They also got pleasure from insulting the passengers. The 13 flight attendants are not flying for free anymore. Seriously, ladies, forget about the roaches, but the passengers were ultimately paying your salaries.
- Numerous teachers also have lost their jobs over Facebook incidents. Networking limitations are particularly tough for teachers. A relatively harmless picture with a beer can in hand…enjoying a party…on a Saturday night… ten years ago… is enough to be banned from the classroom.
- A computer-savvy nun, digitizing the convent's archives and handling banking over the Internet, became very active on Facebook. And while no disgraceful evidence was found, she was still confronted by the fellow Sisters and asked to leave the convent.
- A social Development office employee described her job on Facebook profile as a "very expensive paperweight." For her skills she mentioned “highly competent in the art of time wastage, blame-shifting and stationery theft." Was fired as a very expensive paperweight.
- A lady had been living off of disability insurance for depression for years. Until the insurance company making the payments got into her Facebook page and saw her "relaxing at the beach, hanging out at a Chippendale's-style club, and generally having a lot of fun." No more disability checks, as the current condition does not comply with the definition of clinical depression.
- And now Apple fired one of its employees for posting negative comments about the company on Facebook. A critical passage on a private Facebook page was qualified as “gross misconduct.” At least Apple management makes it clear when hiring new employees that critical remarks about the company are prohibited, as they can be “particularly damaging for Apple as image is so central to its success.” Come on now, what kind of badmouthing should it take to damage the image of a grand company like Apple?
So, why exactly employers are sneaking in the employees’ private profiles? - Because they can. And it is legal. And why are they firing people based on the networking info? - Because they can. But is it legal? When does criticizing an employer become a fire-able offence?
Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to talk to each other about improving work conditions, and their negative comments are protected under federal labor laws, whether they take place on Facebook or at the water cooler. So, you can safely vent your frustrations about the workplace on social networks. Yes, you can!.. But you shouldn’t.
If you want to exercise the First Amendment, you can sit a hunger strike with protesting slogans in front of a certain office, and you will not necessarily be arrested. But you post on Facebook that your supervisor has a bad breath, and you will probably be fired. Because you have the freedom of speech, and he has the executive power.
Yes, legally you can say whatever you want. And yes, you can be legally reprimanded for whatever you’ve said.
So use your freedom with caution!
- Try not to criticize your employer on Facebook
- Don’t tweet that you just fell asleep at your desk
- Don’t brag that you’ve just finally conquered 4-suits level of spider solitaire, and you are still in the office
- Don’t share with you network, that you are “Attending another boring work meeting.” Even if you are secretly typing on your iPhone under the table, the people, who’ll fire you 2 days later, can see your hands doing something under the table, and realize – the meeting is boring for you.
Sadly, there is no such thing as absolute freedom. And sadly, there is no absolute privacy.
When you connect to a social network, you hope, “they“will protect your personal information. At least, so “they” said. And if you're paranoid about privacy, you make your contact information private, you remove yourself from Facebook’s search results, you set your search visibility to “closest friends only” and hand-pick the friends… Don’t fool yourself. Your data is recorded. And exposed. Which is not illegal. It is not even immoral. It only becomes controversial when “they” pass this information on. “They”, or your closest friends, or closest friends of the friends...
If you are really paranoid, you remove yourself from this “Anti-social network”. At least you try, while in fact the internet has no “erase” button.
If you are really-really paranoid, you stay away from any network and never sign up… Don’t fool yourself. “They” are now building profiles of non-users who have never signed up. As if eight hundred million users are not enough, Facebook is now creating extensive "shadow profiles" of non-users. When some friends send you emails, inviting you to Facebook - you are signed in, even if you’ve ignored or furiously rejected the invitation. “They” keep the invitee's email address and name to let your friends know when you join the service.
You synchronize your sophisticated BlackBerry or Android with your computer – and your personal data, as well as the information on everyone in your phone’s address book may be uploaded to Facebook. Names, profile pictures, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdays…
Still paranoid? Then don’t use the internet, cellphones, credit/debit cards, library cards and driver’s license. And even now, there is no privacy.
You do not "own" facts about yourself. You never did. It has never been, and will never be illegal for someone to look at you at the bus stop and observe what you're wearing, what your height is, what your hair color is, or what number bus you're waiting for. Nor is it illegal for someone to listen to you chatting to your friend and hear your name or where you live. But if a creepy man staked out a bus stop for months and followed you around, day in and day out, you could get a restraining order against him. Can you get a restraining order against Facebook, Tweeter, Google, etc.? Not likely, despite the fact that they are stalking the entire world.
One way or another, you may be Tagged (as in search tags, or keywords) and you may be Zuckered (as in Facebook CEO, or Mark Zuckerberg). And in a very unfortunate way, one day you may be fired.