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The Joys of Social Media?

“It’s my Facebook page and I can say what I like on there. It’s not even public, only my friends can see it”.

That’s what my client said to me after she had been called to disciplinary hearing by her employers for comments she had posted on her favourite social media site. The trouble was she was wrong!

First of all, her Facebook comments were not private. Posts on social media sites are now usually viewed by Employment Tribunals as being public posts, even if you think you have the highest privacy settings possible. So, assume that your Facebook or Twitter posts are not private, they are public comments out there for all to read.

Therefore if you criticise your employer, work colleagues or customers online, you could end up losing your job. Your employer could argue that your comments go to the very heart of your employment relationship and aren’t just harmless banter. This is especially so if the employer/customer can be identified (either directly in the post or by looking at other things on your page). You’re in an even weaker position if you have breached your employer’s Social Media Policy (if they have one). Such policies can class certain social media posts as gross misconduct justifying summary dismissal.

Posts on social media sites can also be construed as bullying if they are directed against your colleagues and this can also lead to your employer taking disciplinary action against you.

The moral of this story is “Think before you post”. Ask yourself this question “would I say this if I was at work or would I get in trouble”. Don’t sound off after a bad day at work as it could land you in hot water.