Kingston Smith

Social Media Strikes Again! Is Your Career 100% Safe?

Every day we hear about the latest inflammatory tweet posted by Donald Trump, which causes many people to comment and argue. However, due to his powerful position, it is highly unlikely that any formal action will be taken.

Earlier this week, the newly appointed editor of Gay Times was suspended and soon after had his employment terminated. This was due to extremely controversial tweets he had posted between 2012 and 2015. These tweets included offensive comments about women, Jewish people, Chinese people, lesbians, transgender, children and people he deemed overweight or ugly. While he has since publicly apologised for his comments, the damage had already been done to both his and the publication’s reputation. Gay Times had no alternative but to terminate his employment with immediate effect. Many in the media have commended the magazine for the swift action it took to resolve the issue.

In another case earlier this month, DJ Logan Sama was about to start a new grime slot for BBC Radio 1Extra but had his offer of employment withdrawn due to ignorant and offensive comments he had posted on Twitter.

This does raise the question of employees’ and applicants’ social media past. What actions should businesses take if they uncover comments that could be seen as offensive, controversial or inflammatory?

Businesses should determine the potential reputational damage this could cause both internally and externally. In most cases, no formal action will be required as the risk of reputational damage is likely to be minimal.

However, if the person holds a prominent position within an organisation and has a profile in the public domain, a different stance may need to be taken.

So, a word of warning to employees: be careful what you post. Before hitting the ‘submit’ button on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms, consider what a future employer might think if they came across it. It could affect your future prospects.

To companies who come across something that could be deemed as offensive: don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t try misinterpreting something just to fit your need to terminate an employee’s contract and think about the wider reputation of the business. If it’s unlikely to be affected in a negative way, it’s unlikely that dismissal will be a reasonable response when a first or final written warning is more appropriate.