It has been an interesting few weeks with social media hitting the headlines on a number of occasions.
There was the case of Oprah Winfrey tweeting her love for the new Microsoft tablet Surface stating she liked it so much she was going to buy a dozen to hand out as Christmas presents to her closest friends and family but alas the tweet was found to have been sent from her iPad. Oprah and Microsoft own goal me thinks.
Then there was the expose from The Guardian that found out that Wonga employees had set up anonymous Twitter accounts to attack MP Stella Creasy calling her ‘mental’ and ‘nuts’ because of her campaign against the firm and the payday loans market. Wonga since has had to publicly apologise and promote a debt advice clinic in Creasy’s own constituency of Walthamstow. Another own goal.
There was also the case of Adrian Smith, a Christian who worked as a manager for Trafford Housing Trust (TNT). In February 2011, outside of work hours, Adrian posted a link on his Facebook page to a BBC website article entitled ‘Gay church marriages get go ahead’, with this comment ‘An equality too far’. In reply some colleagues asked him to explain himself which in reply he posted ‘I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church.’
These comments that were not visible to the general public were enough in his employer’s mind to demote him from his managerial role, cut his salary by 40% and give him a final written warning.
Smith subsequently took TNT to court and won his case against breach of contract and was awarded a measly £100.
Whatever you think of Mr Smith’s comments they weren’t hostile or abusive and not open for all to view. They don’t fall into the same category as the Wonga tweets or the many trolls and abusive users that sometime frequent these platforms.
This case neatly illustrates the problems organisations have in understanding social media and how they should deal with it. For sure all companies should have a social media policy, which actually TNT did seem to have, but it clearly wasn’t descriptive or detailed enough for them to make the wrong judgement.
All employee’s need to know the boundaries that their employer places on their social media communications if not than the company has no excuse when someone strays over the line. In fact it should be part of every new employee’s induction programme.
But it’s not just your current employers that care about your social media footprint but also future employers. You are very naïve if you think that companies or the recruitment companies they employ won’t use social media to research your background before they decide to employ you.
So don’t post anything on your Facebook page or any platform that you wouldn’t want a potential employee to see, it’s just not worth it.