Should you be able to get fired for a Facebook post? How about a scandalous tweet? Perhaps even a venting post on your blog? Like it or not, the firing of Dawnmarie Souza by American Medical Response in Connecticut for a violation of the company’s terms of posting on Facebook and other social media websites is pretty much not a freedom of speech issue. Companies have rules just like society that is why there are such things as libel and slander. For review, the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law..,” and if Congress had passed a Facebook posting law, everyone in the world would likely know about it. Probably from a Facebook post.
Social media is a hot trend, and it is only getting hotter. Still folks need to realize they are accountable for what they put out into cyberspace, the cloud, or whatever fancy word we are calling the Internet these days. As employees, it is one thing to criticize the boss sitting around the break room, and something very different to post something derogatory to a few thousand followers or friends. The whole “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” argument is completely relevant, especially if your company has a policy that specifically spells out what not to post on Facebook or Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong employees have the duty to question management, as that is what helps a company grow, but crazy rants and insults, littered with profanity or not, are pretty much not acceptable feedback. If anyone has learned anything over the past century, it should be that outright negativity never really solves anything. But to turn situations like being fired for a social media post into a First Amendment fight seems a little out of touch.
While folks have the right to free speech, free expression, even freedom of the press, there are always consequences in voicing personal attacks. These consequences usually include a counterattack, in these cases being fired from a job. I suppose to some extent we all take a lesson from what mothers have been saying for years, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”