Twitter Twits: Tweets that got people fired

By Elizabeth Bromstein

Tweets that got people firedOn July 7, CNN fired senior editor for Middle East Affairs, Octavia Nasr, over a tweet. After 20 years with the American news channel one mere sentence was her undoing: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah,” Nasr wrote on her Twitter account, adding that Fadlallah, a Shiite cleric and one of the founding members of Hezbollah, was “One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

Nasr immediately found herself facing backlash and, according to the New York Daily News (and a slew of other sources), backpedalled in a blog post, in which she wrote, “Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret,” then went on to praise Fadlallah for his stance on “woman’s rights,” and for cautioning men against abusing their wives.

But the damage was done and CNN fired her. With the statement that “we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”

Nasr isn’t the first person to get canned over something posted online and she won’t be the last.

Last week, the Huffington Post had a list of tweets that got people sacked. These include Connor Riley who, after being offered a job at Cisco Systems, said in a tweet that she would hate the job but enjoy the “fatty paycheck.” The Huffpo says that someone from Cisco stumbled across her Twitter account and replied “Who is the hiring manager…I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.” The story earned Riley the unfortunate nickname “Cisco Fatty.”

Then there’s the famous story of the facepalmingly stupid girl who posted a Facebook status update about her “total pervy wanker” of a boss who was “always making me do sh*t stuff just to p*ss me off. Wanker!”

The young woman had forgotten friending her boss on Facebook. Said boss responded four hours later, informing her that a) he’s gay b) the “sh*t stuff” she was complaining about was her JOB which c) she wasn’t very good at and d) she was fired. Oh, the hilarity. Facebook privacy settings will only save you if you are not an idiot.

The caution here applies to both on and offline behaviour. I always try to behave as though someone I desperately want to impress is watching. And I am successful about seven percent of the time.

Offline, you probably shouldn’t show off your knowledge of off-colour hand gestures and let loose a string of expletives at that d[irt]bag who almost ran you over on your bike. Sure, he might be wrong. He might also be interviewing you for a job tomorrow.

Online, remember that there are no eradicable errors. Even the most seemingly innocuous of Twitter posts or Facebook status updates can offend someone. And you know what? This isn’t always fair. Sometimes the other person is being completely irrational but that’s not going to save your job/job opportunity. And that’s life. The moral of the story? If there’s any question over whether you should post something, don’t. And if there isn’t, ask yourself if there should be.

Among the other job-killing tweets posted on The Huffington Post:

David Le, a summer jobs contractor for the Washington D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), was working to help youths in the D.C. area of Anacostia. During this time, Le posted a string of tweets that referred to Anacostia as a “ghetto” and boasted of slacking off on the job. After Le was fired he set his Twitter feed to ‘private.’

Hung actress Jane Adams allegedly skipped out on a bill at Beverly Hills restaurant and had her agent settle the tab the next day, after which her waiter, Jon-Barrett Ingels complained on Twitter that he didn’t even get a tip out of it. Adams apparently discovered the tweet and came in to settle the $3 tip. She also complained to the management and got him fired.

A female employee at a St. Louis non-profit organization was fired after her boss discovered via Twitter that she had been maintaining a secret sex blog. She apparently strictly separated her blog life from her work life but her employer informed her, “We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard.”

See all “13 tweets that got people fired.”

21 Responses to “Twitter Twits: Tweets that got people fired”

  1. Sam says:

    This is outrageous. NOW your boss fallow your tweets and fire you because he/she dosn’t like what you do of your life.

    Seriously this 1984 George Orwell to the max. if i get fired for a tweet or a facebook comments i would go see my boss. GET THE [Heck] OUT OF MY PRIVATE LIFE YOU [Jerk] …

    Facebook is a cia front to gather private information on anyone. twitter is no different.

  2. Lee says:

    It’s too bad the restaurant listened to a thief and let go a person who probably needed that job more than an over paid actress who thinks shes all that and a bag of chips. i hope the waiter gets a good lawyer and sues the both of them.

  3. The unfortunate thing about people being fired over comments that they may or may not have said is that the ones who suffer the most are the customers who ultimately are the ones who are most important in this messed up world of commerce. I hope that these employers “zero tolerance” themselves out of business.

  4. Rachel says:

    umm… this is scary.

  5. Angela says:

    People really should be careful what they post online vis facebook and twitter. You just nver know who will find out and the consequences are usually not good. If you have a problem with your boss or work, vent at home or discuss it with someone in a calm manner. People should learn proper manners too.

  6. Does anyone remember a song called ‘both sides of story’? The thing is we all make mistakes but just because we make so we do not want or need the whole world to know about it. I can understand the people that feel that they are being abused by their employers & bosses but then it’s better to talk to them not complaining to the whole world & giving companies & bosses a bad image.
    This falls under the line of ‘never bite the hand that feeds you’ & that is true. Your employer can make mistakes but if you talk to them in a grown up manner they will be able to respond to you thoughts & complaints instead of trying to tell the whole world what a bad company & boss you work for instead you should show some courage try to solve the problem not making it worse.

  7. Mark W says:

    Whether you think it fair or not, once you hit the key and transmit that thought or comment, it is out there for good or bad – You CAN’T take it back! I say this because too many people are really that naive and think that saying ’sorry’ to someone they may have offended online will smooth things over.

    Before you post it, try writing it down. Then, leave it for a few minutes and re-read it. If you still want to post it, then at least you will have had the chance to think about it first. (and to correct any spelling issues…)

    The plain fact is that everything you put out to the internet can be read by ANYONE if they want to put the energy into it. Something CAN come back and bit you. So why take the chance?

  8. erich says:

    I think it’s funny..
    People, especially young ppl these days think there’s no consequences for anything.. they think they can post / say / do whatever they want and no one can do shit about it.. Well reality check ppl, there ARE consequences.. And even tho ppl shouldn’t be judgmental, the reality is that they are, all the time. So get used to it.

    At any rate people who use twitter and facebook are attention whores, and then when they get bad attention and it’s a suprise to them? lol… If you want ppl to stay out of your “private life” then don’t post your “private life” all over the internet, ya dummies ;P Really, If you think THIS is scary, google “Jessi Slaughter”.. go see what happened to that stupid little twit who thought she could run her mouth off at the world with no consequences.. boy was she wrong! ;P

  9. Carley says:

    If you are so concerned with the whole “Big Brother” thing – stop posting on Facebook and Twitter – god, is it that important that everyone know what you are doing every minute of every day? If you don’t want people to judge what you do in your private life, keep it PRIVATE!

  10. Kate says:

    If only people would also remember that posting pictures of themselves doing illegal activities (i.e. smoking pot) will get them sacked. You can’t account for who is sitting next to that person you’ve allowed to see those pictures…

    Though I whole heartedly agree, there needs to be a better way to separate your work and personal life.

  11. Daamini says:

    Shame on CNN. Did not know till your article about Octavia being fired that they were as useless as Fox. No wonder Peter Jennings got throat cancer. He must have been emotionally choking/gagging all these years.

  12. Can you imagine what sort of hell it would be to work for a boss who takes such a megalomaniacal interest in his or her employees’ personal affairs that you have to live in a constant state of social paranoia? I don’t support acting like an uncouth blowhard, but there is a vital point that’s been missed by this article: it’s true that it is a privilege to be an employee, but it is also a privilege to have employees. We get a say in the matter. Maybe we need to examine the degree of our desperation before we accept this sort of leadership.

  13. Alex says:

    This is not only happening in the US. Here in Venezuela, I know of some cases too. In my opinion, people shouldn’t post anything related to their jobs or politics, because it might backfire at them.

    I only post comments regarding to personal stuff, like wishing a happy birthday to a friend. It is incredible how people you don’t even know can be updated about your life, simply by tracking your own posts.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Erich. That’s an 11 year old girl you’re pointing and laughing at. You don’t pick on 11 year old girls, no matter how stupid their behaviour. They are 11 YEAR OLD GIRLS. Of course they’re stupid.

    All Jessi’s story proves is that people like to abuse children when they are anonymous and think they can get away with it.

  15. Steven says:

    Here’s a good creed to live by. If you won’t say it to somebody’s face, don’t publish it on facebook of twitter. That being said I have no remorse for what I say, and if I lose my job over somebody getting butt hurt because they don’t like the reality of the situation or the context in which it occurred, I’m better off without that job. That being said, there are a lot of stupid people posting stupid things. I urge many of you to look up many of the criminals who are arrested because of facebook and twitter posts.

  16. Christie says:

    Sam et al. Don’t be paranoid. No one CARES what you ate for breakfast. And if you get fired because you blabbed your bad attitude all over the INTERNET, then you only have yourself to blame. Grow up. 1984 indeed! Get over yourself.

    And michael balls, you have an overinflated ego. Read what I said to Sam and take it to heart. Michael balls – if you have something to say to your boss, SAY IT TO YOUR BOSS, don’t post it online then whine when you get caught! Seriously! You guys should read and FOLLOW what Steven says – don’t publish what you wouldn’t say to the person’s face. It’s just basic manners.

  17. K says:

    Try looking for a job if you have had these brain slips.
    This goes any way that you can think of!

    You talk about Twitter or Facebook. Well, do you know that Goggle has all that information and more about “you people” out there!!! So, just post smartly.
    Remember that any one that you have allowed or accepted as a friend can be you undoing also.
    This goes for all forms on electronic communications.
    So be smart, and not be too hasty to post!!

  18. smm news says:

    I go along with your posting. I am just certainly fascinated when considering the remarkable quickness that user generated content is actually growing. Sometimes we overlook that as an example Youtube or perhaps Tweets did not exist couple of years ago. Regardless, great posting and intensely helpful blog site.

  19. Steven says:

    Even though the CEO of the organization I worked for bullied her staff and she broke the law numerous times I still didn’t “sound off” via Social Networking. I certainly didn’t want others to go through what me or my colleagues had suffered there but there is only two routes I could take a) lodge a complaint with an employment tribunal or b) inform the police. There are official routes to make complaints about the company, dealing with it through processes is the only way to tackle them. Social Networking can be your audition area for your next job, and complaining, even justified, is not something a future employer wants to deal with.

  20. Ronnie says:

    Not everything on the internet can be “sugar coated”, it is a public forum, how dare employers intrude into the lives of employees or prospective employees by policing the internet. It seems very unprofessional for an employer to judge someone based on a comment made in the moment. Tit for Tat, I damn sure will not tolerate a employer who I catch bullying an employee. Leave internet policing to the police.

  21. Nancy says:

    This is unfair. Twitter and Facebook were made to allow FREEDOM OF EXPRESSING ONESELF… and now you are fired for it…


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