Global TV Tech Buzz: Can You Get Fired For Social Media?

Can you get fired for something you put on Facebook or Twitter?

Yes you can.

Now there is a grey area that depends on what you say, whether or not you have a union, and what your relationship with the boss is like, but the short answer is: yes, you can get fired for what you put on social media – even if you have a twitter disclaimer.

The question is being raised a lot this week after two very high profile cases where comments online have cost people their jobs.

Amanda Todd committed suicide after being repeatedly bullied by people online and off. Her case has been well documented. Even after her death, the bullying continued as people jumped on her memorial pages to continue the abuse.

One such scene was witnessed by an Airdrie mom, Christine Claveau, who took a screenshot of the Facebook comments and notified the person’s employer. The man was then fired from his job the next day.

The case of Violentacrez is perhaps even more disturbing because it really sheds a shocking light on the lives of internet trolls. Violentacrez has, for years, been one of the most controversial characters on Reddit, a vast discussion board. He created and moderated many of the most successful boards on the site, many of them associated with racism, and pornography.

Last week his identity was revealed by Gawker and days later Michael Brutsch was fired.

“My wife is disabled. I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment,” he told Gawker. “I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time.”

In a phone conversation, Brutsch admitted to being the Reddit user named Violentacrez, who created or moderated sections dedicated to pornographic and violent images, including subreddits called r/rapebait, r/incest, r/picsofdeadkids, r/jailbait, and r/chokeabitch.

These stories aren’t new. As soon as Facebook became mainstream, people started losing their jobs over postings online. Just ask Charlie Barrow, Devon Bourgeois, James Wood and Zach Good. They were all fired for comments they posted on Facebook, groups they joined or just for spending too much time on the site.

Don’t think you can put a quick disclaimer on your Twitter bio and think it absolves you of repercussions from everything you write or say online.

Sure, it can put a legal line between you and your company if you go and say something radical, but anything you say online can and will be used against you.

“The vast majority of people believe that what they say outside of the workplace is none of the employer’s business. But that’s not true. The employer can always fire you for whatever you say. The only issue again is whether you’re entitled to some sort of notice before you’re fired.”
[How an online posting can cost you your job – CBC]

Take Damien Goddard, for example. The former Sportsnet anchor tweeted support for an agent who had spoken out against gay marriage. Hours later he received a call from his bosses, he was fired the next day.

There are strong laws internationally about what can happen to you when posting things online. The UK has famously jailed people over racist tweets and threatening Facebook posts.

Liam Stacey served 56 days in jail after tweeting racist comments when footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a match.

Lisa Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea magistrates at an earlier hearing: “Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch and was believed to have died. Shortly after, Stacey posted on Twitter: ‘LOL, F*** Muamba. He’s dead.'”

After other Twitter users criticised Stacey, prompting him to post further offensive and racist comments, users reported him to police forces around Britain.

Stacey branded people who criticised him on Twitter as “wogs” and told one to “go pick some cotton”.
[The Guardian]

Keeley Houghton pleaded guilty to harassment and was sentenced to 3 months in a young offenders’ institution. She had been accused of bullying a classmate for four years and, ultimately, threatening to kill her.

On her personal page, Houghton wrote of her victim: ‘Keeley is going to murder the bitch. She is an actress. What a ******* liberty. Emily ****head Moore.’
[The Daily Mail]

Avoiding the drama should be easy, it’s common sense even, but worthy of reminders.

1. Do A Self-Evaluation
Mitch Joel has a great article that encourages people to go back and look over their history of tweets and evaluate them from the point of view of an employer, or prospective employer. Joel calls it “The Twitter Test“:

The Economist magazine used to run a print ad with the copy: “would you want to sit next to you at dinner?” It’s a clever line of copy and an even cleverer thought. You have to smart, interesting, pithy and curious, don’t you? How do your tweets stack up? You see, beyond the basics of a good Twitter profile (a simple username, photo, legible biography, a link to something more relevant about you, etc…), it’s really what you’re tweeting (and how you’re doing it) that’s going to keep someone who is finding you for the first time interested in hitting that “follow” button.
[Mitch Joel]

Joel encourages people to take the test monthly. I do it often, it’s a great way to step out of the emotion of the moment where tweets are often crafted and look at your brand from a distance.

2. If You Don’t Want It On The Front Page Of The Paper, Don’t Say It
When journalists really started to mine Twitter for information a few years ago, I posited that lifting quotes directly from twitter was “lazy journalism“. That notion has disappeared, it’s conventional wisdom that what is said on Twitter is public and eminently quotable without approval. Still, Shaw’s response to my question is still one of the most quoted lines I mention in relations to social media.

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The absolute best Twitter client is Tweetbot. If you’re a power user that curates content via lists, and have multiple accounts, this is the app for you. This week Tweetbot made a move to the desktop with the release of a Mac app. It’s not a cheap app, it’s $2.99 for iOS and $19.99 for the desktop. They say the high rate for the desktop app is because of restrictions Twitter is putting on third party clients. Fans are already saying it’s worth the money. While I love the iOS version, I still prefer TweetDeck on my desktop.

Global TV Tech Buzz: Breaking Bad Tech Habits

It’s time for a refresher course in how to play nicely in the digital sandbox. Some of these tips are simple etiquette, some are user guidelines, others are just common sense.

Here’s 6 bad tech habits you need to break:

The top passwords in a Yahoo! hack this summer were discovered to be 123456, password, and welcome. That’s not good people.

Tips: use numbers to spell out words. $ for S, 4 for A, 3 for E – things like that. Mixing case, letters, and numbers is key. For something that’s easy to remember, use foreign words and then spell some of the letters with characters.

Using a system like 1Password will also help you as you just create a solid password to get into the site and then it manages all your other passwords with strong strings of characters.

This is going to get worse as smartphones get skinnier and taller (I’m looking at you Mr. iPhone 5). Think of how your tv sits – that’s how you should hold your smartphone when shooting video. When you’re using your smartphone as a camera – hold it like a camera. Vertical photos are bad, vertical video looks terrible.

This needs to stop, it needs to stop now. Phones face down on the table when you’re out with someone. You don’t need to see the screen calling you with random texts or alerts, but you’ll able to hear or feel if it rings and your kids are in trouble. Otherwise, phone face down. Pay attention to the people you’re with. Apple has a Do Not Disturb function built in to iOS6, learn to use it.

You might also want to suggest a phone stack if you’re out with friends and nobody can talk for longer then 5 minutes without their face in the phone. Pile them all in the middle. First one to grab their phone from the stack pays the bill. :)

Like Sir Mix A Lot says, Baby Got Back (Up). Just do it. Do it today. You can get free storage from places like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive. You can have your photos passworded on a site like Flickr, your home movies on a site like YouTube. There are thumb drives, external drives, cloud solutions, physical media. There are dozens of ways to get it done so do it before you lose it.

If you’re not comfortable shouting it on a megaphone in a crowded room, don’t say it. A good thing to do is roll back through your stream and see what you’ve said and look at it from the point of view of an employer – are you always being on point with what you say? While you’re doing an inventory of your social, have a double check of your settings. Keep the private things private. It really is okay not to share EVERYTHING.

They look ridiculous when you leave them in your ear all the time. They’re great for the car, it’s a simple and affordable hands free solution. But you don’t need to keep it in all the time, they look ridiculous.

Global TV Tech Buzz: Technology Turkeys

With Thanksgiving this weekend, families are gathering around the horn of plenty for a feast to celebrate the harvest season. This week Tech Buzz gets into the spirit with a look at some of the biggest tech turkeys of recent memory:

While the iPad has been a huge success for Apple, legions of others have tried and failed to crack the market. Two of the biggest failures on this list belong to RIM and HP.

HP pulled the plug on their TouchPad just 7 weeks after launch in the summer of 2011. The company spent $1.2B on the WebOS platform and then pulled the plug to focus on other divisions instead of chasing Apple. The TouchPad price was dropped to $99 and it immediately became a best seller, momentarily giving HP a 17% tablet marketshare.

RIM’s Playbook has been a massive disaster too. The buttonless interface was innovative, but it lacked some key features out of the box namely email. It has been nearly 2 years since the original Playbook was unveiled, and version 2 is still stuck behind the BlackBerry 10 operating system delays. Even with price discounting, the device hasn’t caught any traction. RIM’s window to salvage the entire company is closing quickly, and this failure is just one on a very long list of reasons.

As high definition moved to the home, two competing file formats went head-to-head to become the industry standard. HD DVD and BluRay each had their backers but movie studios weren’t keen on producing content in two formats.

When this battle was last fought between Beta and VHS, the victory was predicted by the the porn industry. This time, however, porn was an early backer of HD DVD, a strategy that didn’t pay off.

In the end BluRay won the coin flip when Toshiba pulled out of HD-DVD in 2008, soon followed by WalMart‘s retreat from the format. But has it been a victory worth winning? Netflix has virtually killed the physical media home movie market.

I’m guessing you have no idea what this is. Apple unveiled Ping in 2010 as a social network for music. It was meant to help people discover new music, but with no inherent plug-in to other social networks, it couldn’t gain traction. Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to,” Steve Jobs told Kara Swisher at All Things D. So there was no synergy and Ping was just another social network. Ping’s plug was pulled last week.

How bad are Apple Maps? Tim Cook issued an apology a week after launch, admitted the product wasn’t ready for prime time and actually recommended people use the web based maps from Google, Nokia, and Bing on their iPhones. The CEO of Apple actually recommended users switch to Google. Steve Jobs is definitely dead.

This is a turkey on our list because of the promise the device was given at it’s unveiling. It was hailed in 2001 to “be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy,” by inventor Dean Kamen. Instead it’s become a punchline for Mall Cops. If you have ever ridden a Segway, you will sing it’s praises. It is a fun machine, and a great way to get around. Numerous tour operators offer Segway tours of old cities, and it’s a perfect tourist tool. For meter maids, mall cops, and others who have to work a beat it’s an easy way to get around – just not the revolutionary society changer it was promised to be.

How bad was Windows Vista? They had to include as part of the operating system, a function that allowed users to revert back to Windows XP. The reviews came fast and swift that the much-delayed OS was too slow, too hard to manage, and one to be avoided. The Vista debacle seemed to dovetail right along the rise of Apple with the iPod, iPhone and it’s culture of cool. Mac sales could look at Vista as one of the reasons it took off.

The next few weeks will prove interesting for Microsoft, Windows 8 will be released in a few weeks and it promises a complete overhaul of how we interact with the desktop.

Just as everyone is now taking shots at the iPhone and iPad, the iPod was a target of imitators years earlier. Microsoft was late to the music player party when, in November 2006, it unveiled the Zune some 5 years after Apple gave birth to iPod. Bogged down with DRM, and an inability to interface with iTunes, Zune could never get going. Even an all you can eat subscription model that loaded the Zune with millions of songs couldn’t save it and it was killed this past summer.

Honorable Mentions to Google Wave, Motorola Xoom, Windows Phone

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