The DANGERS of Social Media

May 7, 2017 Newsletters

By your friendly SDA industrial officer

The most frustrating part of my job is trying to get a member reinstated when s/he has been dismissed after they have ranted against their employer on a social media forum.

Most of us work because we need to pay our bills, pay our rent, support our loved ones and hopefully have the occasional holiday.

Hence I get frustrated when a member jeopardises their job after s/he has become annoyed with their boss or fellow worker, maybe had a couple of drinks and vent their frustration on social media.

It wasn’t so long ago that an employee’s Facebook rant against his employer, out of hours and from his home computer, has cost him his job.

Deputy President Deirdre Swan upheld the termination of computer repairman Damien O’Keefe who posted his frustrations regarding his pay on his Facebook page. O’Keefe, employed by The Good Guys for about four years, claimed he had been unfairly dismissed. He admitted posting the comment but said it was done out-of-hours and his Facebook privacy settings meant only a select group of about 70 friends could access the page. He said he did not intend for the company to see the comment.

O’Keefe admitted seven of his Facebook friends were co-workers. DP Swan said O’Keefe would have been aware of the consequences of his actions. “The applicant was aware that there were other work colleagues on his Facebook group who could see the comments made and this is precisely what happened”. She said “common sense would dictate” employees can’t publish insulting and threatening comments towards employers or colleagues – and “The fact that the comments were made on [O’Keefe’s] home computer, out of work hours, does not make any difference”.

It is clear that the separation between home and work is now less pronounced than it once used to be. Members should be very careful about what they say or post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or any other similar social media, even if they think their privacy settings are secure. They are still publishing comments, and if the comments are derogatory or defamatory, there can be very serious consequences!

Therefore, our advice is very simple. THINK BEFORE YOU POST. Once you’ve put something on a social media forum, it is very difficult to control who sees it and what they may do with it.


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