Can You Get Fired for Social Media Posts?

October 27, 2020

The majority of people believe that their First Amendment rights allow them to say anything they want, online and in real life. But the First Amendment mainly concerns the government’s role in free speech. The same rule just doesn’t apply to private employers. 

The long and short of it is that you can be fired for social media posts – whether because they go against company policy or contain questionable content – or both. And now (more than ever!) a whopping 48% of companies say they keep checking up on employees on social media. For your job security and peace of mind, it’s important to know what kinds of posts could put you in dangerous territory. And with the help of LifeBrand artificial intelligence technology, you can ensure that your entire online history looks as clean as any employer could desire.

Problematic Posts That Can Get You Fired

Because many companies already have policies in place about what types of posts aren’t allowed, you may want to review the details in your contract. Even if your company doesn’t have an explicit policy, it’s still very possible to lose your job because of social media posts. Why? The unfortunate reality is that most states are “employment at will,” meaning that the company doesn’t have to have a reason to fire you. Employers are not required to provide an explanation when terminating an at-will employee.

Thus, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that you could get fired from just ONE problematic post, even if that post was unearthed from many years ago! If you’re not convinced of this, just do a quick online search for “social media firing cases 2020” to see the latest headlines of high-profile individuals who got canned for inappropriate comments online. 

Let’s say you posted a few status updates back in 2008 about parties you attended over the weekend. You got drunk and wrote inappropriate comments which are representative of the types of conversations young college kids have in the middle of the night. You also got tagged by friends in pictures of you drinking beer and laughing. Though those posts don’t accurately reflect the kind of lifestyle you lead now, your supervisor sees them after doing a quick Google search of your name.

The next thing you know, you’ve been called to speak with your supervisor, who tells you that your online presence doesn’t reflect positively on the company. You’re asked to submit your 30-days notice so you can leave gracefully. Meanwhile, you still don’t know what it is that got you fired.  

As you can see, it’s not hard to imagine how a social media firing could happen. Worse yet, you may never know exactly why you got canned  –– especially if it’s over an incident that happened years ago.

Here are a few other examples of the types of posts to stay clear of:

Pejorative Comments

Even if you feel confident about your account’s privacy settings, steer clear of making any disparaging comments about your job or clients. After all, you don’t want to be seen as unprofessional (who knows where your next job connection will come from!) and news can spread like wildfire, especially if you’re friends with a coworker. You never really know who will see your post and who they’ll share it with. 

Party Pictures 

It’s become harder than ever to control what images of you go online, especially at social gatherings when people tend to snap away and post instantly. But you want to stay vigilant, as captions and tags associated with drinking pictures (and/or other potentially compromising activities) put you on bad footing at your job. Many employers are becoming concerned about the PR effects of such posts and may respond with disciplinary actions, depending on how strict company policies are.

Company Decisions

It’s best to avoid posting about any company news unless you’ve been given permission to do so. Posting about new products, staffing decisions, or any confidential information is a no-no. A good rule of thumb: don’t post unless the company has already shared the information online.

Protect Your Career with LifeBrand Technology 

What many people forget is that nothing posted online is truly private. Even if you delete a post, it can come back to haunt you if someone has taken a screenshot. 

And what about posts from the past? You might have very good etiquette online now, but can you remember everything you’ve put on the internet since you joined social media? If you’re like most people, it’s more than probable that you’ve posted content that you might not be proud of now. Whether that’s a racist or sexist comment, a drug reference, or just obscene language, are you prepared for those posts to come to light? 

Anything you’ve posted in the past could be resurfaced at any time and become tomorrow’s social media firing story.

The solution? Today, you can take advantage of cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, before a potential or current employer does. Our patent-pending software allows you to clean your social media by detecting and deleting harmful posts across accounts, back to their inception.

Try out LifeBrand technology today with a free scan of your history.