Could Your Social Media Habits Get You Fired?

Charlotte Miller

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Social media is virtually everywhere these days. With billions of people now using social media networking platforms all around the world, it’s hard to escape the allure of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

That said, these sites can come with their fair share of risks. While they can provide a great way to connect with loved ones, they can also reveal a bit too much about us if we aren’t careful.

In fact, saying too much on social media could endanger your personal relationships – and your professional ones, too. According to a recent study, one in three participants knows someone whose employer will fire workers based on their social media behavior. 

That’s not to say that you’ll definitely be let go if you happen to post something your boss doesn’t like. But you can never be too careful. In the age of “cancel culture,” it’s best to err on the side of caution. With that in mind, here’s what not to do if you want to save your job while staying active on social.

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Making Inappropriate or Offensive Posts

This should be the most obvious snafu. But whether a post is offensive or not is subjective… right?

Sort of. Although people will view social media activity through the lens of their own biases, there are certain kinds of posts that are considered to be inappropriate on a relatively universal level.

These might include:

  • Posts relating to alcohol or drug use
  • Posts containing sexual or explicit material
  • Derogatory posts regarding race, religion, gender, or sexuality

Even posts or comments that are intentionally hurtful might be considered offensive to some. 

It might be tempting to post your thoughts or experiences on Facebook as a form of catharsis. But if you don’t want to deal with any professional repercussions, it’s best to stay positive (or at least silent) on social media. And before sharing anything that could be unlawful or offensive to your employer, such as photographic evidence of drug use, think before you post.

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Complaining About Your Job

We’ve all experienced the frustration of dealing with an annoying coworker or a bad boss. But that doesn’t mean you should air your grievances in a tweet. 

Don’t assume that you can skirt around the issue by not naming names. Approximately 12.55% of participants in a recent social media conduct survey said they had made negative posts related to their jobs on social media but they kept details vague. Keep in mind that even if you don’t identify the other parties involved, your post could come back to haunt you.

Not only could you get fired from your current position, but you could also have trouble getting hired in the future. A 2018 CareerBuilder survey found that 25% of employment candidates were denied opportunities after a social media screening found evidence that they had bad-mouthed a former employer or coworker.

There’s no such thing as the perfect job. But when the going gets tough, the tough get off social media. If you’re going to complain, do it in person to a trusted friend. That way, no one can screenshot your post without your knowledge and go tattling to your boss.

Using Threatening Language

Again, this tip should be common sense, but it’s sadly all too common.

Threats of any kind should have no place in your life – much less on social media. 

Whether or not you mean it as a joke, this is no laughing matter. If you’re threatening physical or emotional harm to another individual or group, you can find yourself in hot water.

Not only could you be banned from the platform or be disciplined at work, but you might even be charged with a crime. If you send written threats of bodily harm, you might face a felony charge that comes with major prison time.

Keep in mind that social media conduct doesn’t have to go that far in order to get you in trouble. If you’re found to be harassing someone on these platforms, your bullying behavior could result in serious consequences, too.

It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and a screen. But if you wouldn’t say what you write in real life, don’t say it online. Social media is supposed to be fun for everyone – so it’s not okay to weaponize it for your own gain.

Social Media Firings Are Rare, But Proceed With Caution

The reality is that social media-related firings don’t happen as frequently as you might think. But when they do occur, it’s usually a result of truly egregious behavior. 

Legally, you typically can be fired for what you say on social media. Even if the The Constitution protects your ability to speak freely, that doesn’t mean you’ll be free from consequences in the private job sector. 

In other words, you should be careful about what you post. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe don’t say anything at all.