With social media so prevalent in society today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the personal from the professional. I often find myself doing professional networking through my own Twitter account or using social media to promote stories from my internships. However, where do we draw the line? And to what point can social media harm your career?
Jofi Joseph, the former White House employee working for the National Security Council, has recently been fired for misuse of Twitter. Joseph was anonymously manning a satirical account, @NatSecWonk. The account has now been taken down. The account made snide remarks about the government and politicians from both parties and harshly criticized the administration.
“It has been a privilege to serve in this Administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me,” stated Joseph in an email to Politico. He continued to state, “What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments. I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted.”
More information on the story can be found in this New York Times article.
First of all, I do not condone Joseph in any way. I believe his tweets were over the top and distasteful. In a position as important as the National Security Council qualities like discretion and loyalty are extremely important. Joseph destroyed the fundamental trust needed to work in the White House.
However, the story got me thinking. How do our actions on social media affect our careers? How much does the first amendment protect us online in regards to our job? We have all heard the horror stories about college students drunk tweeting or putting up too many photos from their wild spring break trip and losing a potential job.
What about people sharing confidential work information or complaining about their employer? What if it was a PR person using their personal account to make fun of their clients? Working in media and communication, it is dire to be cautious about whatever you put out into the world via social media. Even though it is your personal account it is not a platform for venting about coworkers or turning your workplace into a satire.
This situation reminds me of the Twitter account @MeetingBoy. The self-description is “I hate my job.” Tweets cynically and comically rip on this person’s boss and office environment. The account is anonymous, but does that mean what he or she is doing is right? I argue no.
When it comes to these two accounts and anyone else sharing unflattering information about their place of employment online I would say this is a very bad practice. It is hard to separate the personal and professional when the two are so intertwined, but never make fun of or complain about your job on your personal accounts or even an anonymous account. There should be a level of trust between you and your work and you do not want to break that by over-sharing something online. If you hate your job that much, look for a new one. Chances are they will see what you said, and then you may be forced to look for a new one anyways. When it comes to social media, keep it real, professional, and personable!
University of Minnesota