I’m a new mom so two recent stories to hit the news about parents, doctors and social media firings really stuck out to me. In the first, a Georgia mother was fired after posting on her Facebook page about taking her sick daughter to urgent care because her own employer—a pediatrician’s office—didn’t have any appointments available. Sounds like a reasonable complaint—who wouldn’t think they should be able to slip their child in to see the doctor they work for? But not only did the office in question not agree, they found those comments troubling and fired her for violating the company’s social media policy of not posting anything disrespectful or defamatory.
This is a hard lesson, and media reports state the mother in question, Misty Robinson, is working with an attorney who believes her rights have been violated. This is a perfect scenario of social media conversations leading to different interpretations. Robinson didn’t think her post was problematic—she just wanted to share that her daughter was treated after all! But how would her employer know her motivations? Certainly they want to show they treat everyone fairly–imagine the response if she posted that another patient was bumped for her child. Whatever their reasons, they’re in the drivers seat when it comes to deciding how to respond. I’ll be interested to see how Robinson’s legal case proceeds.
The second story is no less aggravating, but for different reasons. Dr. Amy Dunbar, an OB/GYN from St. Louis, took to Facebook to complain about a patient that regularly arrived extremely late for prenatal appointments or blew them off entirely. She closed with “May I show up late for her delivery?” After complaints appeared to the hospital, administrators came out to support Dunbar, noting she didn’t violate any privacy regulations.
There’ve been plenty of cases where medical staff went far over the line in sharing personal patient information in social media. This isn’t one of them, and I’m glad the hospital reacted as they did. I’m sure Dunbar will never complain about her patients publicly again, but if she would it seems most of the public would continue to support her—comments on the hospital’s Facebook page for new mothers are overwhelmingly in support of the doctor. My aggravation stems from those folks calling her and her colleagues out for their Facebook comments.
Oh, and who shows up three hours late to the doctor in the first place? How rude!
The internet is abuzz with news about the firing of meteorologist Rhonda Lee for a Facebook post she made on her former employer’s account. Lee, who until November 28 was a meteorologist at KTBS in Shreveport, La., responded to a comment from a viewer on the station’s Facebook about the “Black woman with the short hair,” noting he didn’t like it and questioning if she was a cancer patient.
After several days Lee decided to respond with what I and many others consider a well-thought out message to the viewer, noting that her health was fine, her hair was a reflection of her African-American heritage, and that she hoped to set an example for kids that they can be successful with all types of appearances.
The higher-ups at KTBS responded by firing her for violating the station’s social media policy.
This year Target joins the list of retailers opening up for “Black Friday” sales on Thanksgiving, and employees of the store are taking to social media to complain about the decision.
Target employee Casey St. Clair of California started a Change.org petition a week ago urging the store to reverse their decision. The petition has more than 200,000 signatures as of this morning, and several Target employees have left their own thoughts in the comments:
We could all learn a thing or two from Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire boy wonder behind Facebook. Whether you believe the depiction of his genius in The Social Network, the theft claims leveled in the Winklevoss’ twins multiple lawsuits, or something else entirely, the fact is the man has built an almost unstoppable juggernaut that has revolutionized the way people communicate in modern times.
I say almost unstoppable because ongoing privacy concerns are dogging Facebook, and while most people pay no attention to the details, the Federal Trade Commission has taken notice, and now Zuckerberg’s own account has fallen victim to the site’s own security flaws. Last week pictures from Zuckerberg’s personal account appeared across the web.
Shortly after the pics appeared, stories proclaiming how boring he is popped up. They show the guy hanging with his girlfriend, cooking, cuddling his new puppy and other regular everyday activities (except for meeting the President, which is absolutely not boring). While obviously tongue-in-cheek, the articles raise an interesting point that all of Facebook users should internalize right now–there’s a chance anyone can see what you have posted on the site, so give some thought to what’s there.
This week was not a good one for folks in uniform venting on Facebook or Twitter:
A New Jersey police officer was fired after posting profanity and racial slurs on Twitter and complaining about the City of Orange, NJ, where he worked. Not surprisingly his Twitter page is no longer active.
A TSA-agent at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was fired after hating on Muslims, President and First Lady Obama and others on his Facebook page.
The police chief of Hertford, N.C., about 150 miles west of Raleigh/Durham area, was fired after he posted a link on the city’s Facebook page on Election Day about a candidate that had been arrested for contempt the weekend before the election.
A New Jersey judge has ruled that a first grade teacher should lose her job for describing herself as a “warden for future criminals” in a Facebook status update earlier this year.
The Associated Press updated its social media guidelines (for the second time this year: here’s an earlier post on the subject) to address how reporters should retweet to prevent confusing readers on fact vs. opinion. The changes make things for more confusing than ever–check out the conversation at Poynter.org for some of the high points.
You may have noticed over the past several months more and more websites using Facebook social plugin to handle their comments. TechCrunch is a big one, and many other sites have followed suit, citing the desire to increase transparency and cut down on anonymity in comments, which often turn the chance for feedback into a miasma of racist/sexist/idiotic dreck. For a great look at the world of online comments, read this 7×7 article from May 2011.
A view of Facebook enabled comments on TechCrunch
Until this week those Facebook comments have not been searchable via Google and other search engines, but now they are visible just the same as all the other content on the page. SO, if you’ve been hoping that your controversial online comments won’t show up when people search for you, make sure to stick to sites that still use anonymous systems like Disqus, or you might find yourself explaining your opinions to your boss or a potential employer.
For more info on the technical aspects of this enhanced search function, check out Digital Inspiration.
A New Jersey teacher may lose her job for an anti-gay Facebook rant gone viral. Viki Knox posted her displeasure with an LGBT history month announcement on the Union High School Facebook page. Knox is listed on Facebook as a teacher at the school.
After Knox posted her feelings about the month, a back-and-forth on her Facebook wall led the teacher to describe her objections in religious terms. According to news reports, a parent copied the exchange and forwarded them to an attorney, who sent them to school administrators urging her firing.
The school district is investigating, and a New Jersey Star Ledger op-ed is calling for her firing. The Star-Ledger’s coverage of the issue has generated more than 1,000 comments.
The ACLU commented that they feel the comments on Knox’s Facebook page are protected by the First Amendment. Knox hasn’t been fired yet, but with this much visibility and so much attention on the bullying LGBTQ students deal with in schools, it would not be surprising if she is let go. While her comments might be legally protected, the outcry over her comments shows they are clearly socially unacceptable.
At the same time, this instance is a great opportunity for more conversation around tolerance in schools, from students and the adults that teach them. As an ACLU rep noted, “The ACLU believes that the response to offensive speech is not the restriction of speech, but more speech.”
An Atlanta teacher who lost her job after Facebook pictures surfaced with her holding an alcoholic drink on vacation (Oh, the HUMANITY!!!!) has also lost a lawsuit attempting to get her job back. (From the Atlanta-Journal Constitution)
An assistant football coach at a KIPP high school in Denver was fired for apparently make a sexual advance toward a student on their Facebook page. Really? Charter schools do NOT need this. (From CW 2 Denver)
A TSA-screener is on administrative leave for making anti-Muslim comments on their Facebook page. (From My Fox Chicago)