Jeffrey Cox, formerly a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana, was recently fired for comments he made on social media sites. He said on Twitter that pro-union protesters in Wisconsin should be cleared from the capital with “live ammunition,” and the comment was relayed to his bosses. This is only the latest piece of evidence show that irresponsible use of social media can ruin a career.
Lawyer loses job with three malicious words
Recently, a controversy began on the social media site Twitter. The popular news opinion site Mother Jones was Tweeting updates concerning the ongoing union protests in Wisconsin. When Mother Jones tweeted that Wisconsin police might be used to corral unruly protesters, another user replied “use live ammunition.” The user further tried to justify his comment, saying use of force by police cannot be called “murder” because law enforcement officers have the right to use force, according to Mother Jones. The website did some digging and discovered Jeffrey Cox was the author of the comments. The entries on Twitter and his now-defunct personal blog were passed on to his superiors — thus ended his 10-year career as a lawyer.
Many before Cox have made that mistake
There are numerous tales of people losing their jobs because of gaffes on social media sites. In the case of a Twitter user who came to be called “Cisco Fatty,” a tweet destroyed the user’s chance at a job before she even took it. Cisco Fatty wrote “Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against … hating the work.” Cisco, being the computer savvy company it is, found out about it, discovered the person’s identity and promptly rescinded the job offer.
Companies can find out a lot of information about potential and current employees, and it is remarkably easy to do. Using a website like Pipl.com or a program that searches the “deep web,” or the information that traditional search engines don’t always include in results, a company can see a person’s profile on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Myspace, any blogging activity and even voting history. Corporations and governments have an image to maintain, and employees are tied to those entities. What people do in their free time can certainly affect the company when it’s known who someone works for.