If you are working in a medium to large sized company in Australia, there is a good chance you signed their social media policy documentation somewhere along the way. There is also a good chance you didn’t take too much notice of it. But you should, because what happens on social media doesn’t always stay on social media and people lose their jobs.
How can an employer fire you for something you posted on your personal social media account? Often social media policies include a cause that says you cannot bring your employer into disrepute. This means if your employer thinks that your social media posts make them look bad in the eyes of their other employees or customers, you can find yourself in a world of pain (and looking for a new job).
So what sort of things can get you into trouble?
- Advocating violence
- Advocating rape or s*xual harassment
- Advocating an extremist point of view – regardless of whether this is right or left
- Advocating racism /religious persecution
- Trolling/online abuse
- Saying inappropriate/negative things about your employer’s business or their customers
- Being offensive (which is always subjective, but if it would make a kind old granny reach for her slippers to give you a slap, then it’s probably offensive to someone)
So how can you protect your freedom of speech and protect yourself from being fired for having an opinion? The obvious answer is to not be an offensive twat in the first place, but if it’s too late, then you have two choices:
- Change your profile name to NOT be your real name. This makes it harder for people to search for you. The downside to this is all your relatives think you are either hiding from the authorities or avoiding child support (which is kind of the same thing, when I think about it)
- Don’t hook up with workmates on social media – if they see you posting offensive content, they might just screenshot that meme you thought was hilarious and go running to your boss. Keep work and social media separate unless you are like me and just like to spam them all day and night with pictures of your kids.
- Google yourself – see what comes up and start cleaning up after yourself if you can. Delete old posts, review your privacy settings, NEVER make a post public, review what groups you are a member of on Facebook.
- Check your profile picture history. Delete anything that old granny wouldn’t like. People go looking at that stuff more than you think.
I would like to say that we should all be kind and use our best language on social media, but the reality is too many of us let our worst selves off the leash when we are on the internet. But be a grown up about it and regularly review your social media posts/profiles and clean them up. Don’t lose a job and worse, NOT get another one because of a stupid meme you shared on Instagram.