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How to Lose Your Job on Facebook

BY Danielle Bean

| Posted 5/28/10 at 1:00 PM

 

I think a Facebook page is a lot like a loaded gun. It’s an extremely powerful weapon that, in the hands of immature or inexperienced people, can cause a lot of damage.

High school and college kids are infamous for posting incriminating photos and information about themselves and their friends—with little thought to the fact that they are sharing information with the entire world, including their grandmothers and future employers.

But “grown ups” sometimes share things they shouldn’t too, with serious consequences. It even costs them their jobs on occasion.

Last week, a waitress in North Carolina was fired for complaining about cheap customers on her Facebook page. She used the restaurant’s name and griped about inconsiderate customers who left a $5 tip. Her bosses determined that was enough negative publicity, and they found someone else to do her job.

Inappropriate status updates and photos are one thing, but what about all those silly surveys, polls, games, and quizzes? Can they harm your professional life too?

Yes, they can.

Yesterday came the news that a 27-year-old woman was fired from her position as a math teacher in a Catholic school after responding to a Facebook survey saying that she did not believe in God.

It’s almost like some people believe there exists some kind of disconnect between their lives in the “real world” and what they do online. The fired waitress probably wouldn’t have expected to keep her job if she stood on the street corner complaining about customers and naming her place of employment by name. And if a Catholic school teacher knows that her employer expects her to be a believer, she likely wouldn’t announce her atheism in a crowded mall. And yet they do the equivalent on Facebook and are surprised by negative consequences.

I think part of the problem is the fact that there can be a false sense of security on Facebook pages. You’re among “friends” after all, right? What’s the harm in sharing a little bit of your ... less than professional side?

When I first joined Facebook a couple of years ago, I decided to treat it like a personal blog—which meant friending as many people as requested it and not divulging any information I wouldn’t also share with every single person on the planet. Perhaps not every single person on the planet wants to know that I am commencing my seventh load of laundry on a Wednesday afternoon, but it’s not going to hurt anyone—including me—if they do.

While not everyone will want to take the same “open” approach to Facebook, I think any one of us who uses Facebook, or allows our children to use it, should pause before posting. Consider the consequences of sharing, and when in doubt, delete.