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Twitter Stirring Up Trouble at Work

HR Strange But True
by Stephen Bruce, PhD, PHR

By: Kyle Emshwiller

Facebook isn’t the only social media network that can stir up trouble at work. Here are a few cautionary Twitter tales.

Social Media in the Big League—Major league baseball hit a home run earlier this spring by issuing new social media guidelines. According to reports, the policy was not intended to deter players and staff from “engaging in social media,” but to ensure that everyone involved is aware that social media posts are public and not a place for confidential information.

However, before opening day one player struck out by apparently violating the social media rules when he played a joke on a catcher by tweeting his phone number. With a Twitter following of over 116,000 followers, we imagine the catcher wasn’t laughing.

My Followers, Not Yours—An Illinois marketer created personal Twitter and Facebook accounts and then used them to promote her employer’s business. But then she was involved in a horrific car accident that kept her from work for an extended period. In her absence, her employer used her personal media accounts to stay in touch with her followers—and its customers. From her hospital bed, Mason demanded that the company stop using her personal accounts, but the firm refused, and she brought her employer to court.

The woman claimed false endorsement, and the judge agreed that she had shown the employer’s “intent to commercialize an interest in her identity.” But the judge rejected Mason’s attempt to charge violation of the Illinois Right to Publicity Act.

Tweeting Gets Reporter Terminated—The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that an Arizona reporter was legally terminated after posting unprofessional tweets on his work-related Twitter account. The Board decided that his tweets did not involve protected concerted activity. What’s unprofessional tweeting, you ask? Here’s one tweet he posted about his colleagues: “The Arizona Daily Star’s copy editors are the most witty and creative people in the world. Or at least they think they are.”

TWI—A congressman recently fired three employees for tweeting about their drinking habits … while on the job! The staffers tweeted about everything from drinking jack and coffee in meetings to not being able to pass a sobriety test. A few even insulted the congressman himself. The employees were fired shortly after the tweets, which appear to have spanned several months, were discovered.

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  1. Anonymous        
    June 4, 2012 7:43 am

    You also have to be concerned about who “owns” an employee’s Twitter feed–what if an employees tweeting as part of his job leaves? Who gets the account? There’s already at least one lawsuit over this.