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How to destroy your career from in front of your computer screen

Job Section

How to destroy your career from in front of your computer screen

Facebook and Twitter are essential tools for running a business and networking, but foolish or improper use of them can have disastrous consequences. Every day, we hear of people in positions of power and responsibility tweeting out of turn or sticking their foot in it on Facebook. It suggests that while we should all be familiar with social media and how it works by now, there are still droves of people who don’t know when to keep their personal and professional life separate.

Just this week, a story about a disability claims assessor who had taken to Facebook to allegedly vent her spleen about certain claimants was picked up on by several sources. The unnamed nurse had used phrases like “scroungers” and asked “why do our taxes have to keep them?”

Unfortunately for her, a couple who had had their claim for personal independence payments turned down by the nurse decided to check her out on Facebook and found the insulting posts. Her employer, Capita, promptly suspended her and has now terminated her contract.

The nurse may have been wise to at least alter the privacy settings on her Facebook account so that members of the general public were not able to see what were some very inappropriate posts from someone in her position. More importantly though, she should have remembered that her job carried certain responsibilities and to broadcast such views, whether publicly or among friends, could only bring her professionalism and job suitability into question.

Another social media user who has found himself haunted by social media stupidity from the past is Burnley F.C. player Andre Gray. The striker should be on cloud nine at the moment, seeing as he’s playing in the Premier League for the first time with the newly promoted Clarets, and got on the scoresheet in a recent game against Liverpool. Instead, he’s found himself hit with a charge of misconduct by the FA.

The charge relates to a number of homophobic posts, now deleted, that appeared on Gray’s Twitter account in 2012, when he played for non-league Hinckley United. The posts will not be repeated here, but suffice to say that some of them are shockingly malicious rather than any sort of jokey banter. Gray has apologised and said that he no longer holds these views, but he has until Monday to officially respond to the charge and may find that his remorse is not enough to spare him a fine and/or suspension.

Gray is hardly the first footballer to find himself in hot water due to his behaviour on social media. The most extreme case I’ve heard of is that of Merseyside non-league player Shaun Tuck, whose Islamophobic tweets went so far that he actually ended up in jail over them in 2013. What’s more, a year later he was arrested again for more alleged Twitter race hatred.

Common sense is the key here. We should all be careful with what we post on social media, but some careers come with certain expectations and responsibilities, meaning that any misconduct is sure to be magnified.

Your Facebook and Twitter accounts are a public projection of who you are, what you do and how you think. Don’t make it obvious that you’re the wrong person to be doing your job!

John Murray
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