Twitter Twits: Tweets that got people fired

Elizabeth Bromstein|

On July 7, CNN fired senior editor for Middle East Affairs, Octavia Nasr, over a tweet. After 20 years with the American news channel one mere sentence was her undoing: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah,” Nasr wrote on her Twitter account, adding that Fadlallah, a Shiite cleric and one of the founding members of Hezbollah, was “One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

Nasr immediately found herself facing backlash and, according to the New York Daily News (and a slew of other sources), backpedalled in a blog post, in which she wrote, “Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret,” then went on to praise Fadlallah for his stance on “woman’s rights,” and for cautioning men against abusing their wives.

But the damage was done and CNN fired her. With the statement that “we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”

Nasr isn’t the first person to get canned over something posted online and she won’t be the last.

Last week, the Huffington Post had a list of tweets that got people sacked. These include Connor Riley who, after being offered a job at Cisco Systems, said in a tweet that she would hate the job but enjoy the “fatty paycheck.” The Huffpo says that someone from Cisco stumbled across her Twitter account and replied “Who is the hiring manager…I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.” The story earned Riley the unfortunate nickname “Cisco Fatty.”

Then there’s the famous story of the facepalmingly stupid girl who posted a Facebook status update about her “total pervy wanker” of a boss who was “always making me do sh*t stuff just to p*ss me off. Wanker!”

The young woman had forgotten friending her boss on Facebook. Said boss responded four hours later, informing her that a) he’s gay b) the “sh*t stuff” she was complaining about was her JOB which c) she wasn’t very good at and d) she was fired. Oh, the hilarity. Facebook privacy settings will only save you if you are not an idiot.

The caution here applies to both on and offline behaviour. I always try to behave as though someone I desperately want to impress is watching. And I am successful about seven percent of the time.

Offline, you probably shouldn’t show off your knowledge of off-colour hand gestures and let loose a string of expletives at that d[irt]bag who almost ran you over on your bike. Sure, he might be wrong. He might also be interviewing you for a job tomorrow.

Online, remember that there are no eradicable errors. Even the most seemingly innocuous of Twitter posts or Facebook status updates can offend someone. And you know what? This isn’t always fair. Sometimes the other person is being completely irrational but that’s not going to save your job/job opportunity. And that’s life. The moral of the story? If there’s any question over whether you should post something, don’t. And if there isn’t, ask yourself if there should be.

Among the other job-killing tweets posted on The Huffington Post:

David Le, a summer jobs contractor for the Washington D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), was working to help youths in the D.C. area of Anacostia. During this time, Le posted a string of tweets that referred to Anacostia as a “ghetto” and boasted of slacking off on the job. After Le was fired he set his Twitter feed to ‘private.’

Hung actress Jane Adams allegedly skipped out on a bill at Beverly Hills restaurant and had her agent settle the tab the next day, after which her waiter, Jon-Barrett Ingels complained on Twitter that he didn’t even get a tip out of it. Adams apparently discovered the tweet and came in to settle the $3 tip. She also complained to the management and got him fired.

A female employee at a St. Louis non-profit organization was fired after her boss discovered via Twitter that she had been maintaining a secret sex blog. She apparently strictly separated her blog life from her work life but her employer informed her, “We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard.”

See all “13 tweets that got people fired.”