Zimmerman Verdict Draws Twitter Rants, At Least Two People Fired

At least two people have been fired after their Twitter comments about the recent George Zimmerman verdict reached their unsympathetic bosses.

Last week Texan Rita DeShannon was fired for a string of racist tweets, starting with one reading, Confusing political correctness with not being a bigot, she started out with “I’m really f***ing tired of being politically correct for nothing after all these years!” She went on to call Martin a “thug in training” but also noted that she wasn’t racist and that would “kill any color of person who tried to kill her first.”


DeShannon was a special investigator for Child Protective Services (let that sink in for a minute) which has a clear policy on prejudiced behavior at all times and in all venues, including social media. She was fired for violating that policy, which included several tweets with the N-word. (NOTE: I’m working to get a copy of the Texas CPS policy and will update when I receive it.)

In the second instance, a 17-year-old lost a job before she even started in Michigan, after tweeting she was thankful for the bullet that killed Martin on the night the Zimmerman verdict was announced. Sarah Taylor (who listed her name on Twitter as sarah fucking
taylor-RED FLAG) was canned by her new boss at Biggby Coffee after several tweets and Facebook posts alerted him to her comments, which he described as “horrific.”

Both of these ladies were infrequent tweeters with low numbers of followers. If they would have taken their opinions among friends, they’d probably still be employed and I wouldn’t be blogging about them now. But they both turned to a public forum to take part in a larger conversation and added a lot of heat and very little light to the discourse, taking their own employment and reputations down in the process.

I can’t say I’m surprised. The case and the verdict have been so polarizing along class and race lines that people have been very public about their feelings. Unfortunately for these two those feelings don’t reconcile with positions that serve the public at large, which include people like Martin AND Zimmerman.


Olympians Take Sponsorship Protest Social to Demand Change

Last year I praised the International Olympic Committee for their forward thinking policy around social media at this year’s London games. The straightforward policy sets out rules that I think are fair while still being restrictive enough to give the IOC control over the brand everyone in the world talks about for a few weeks every four years. And considering how tightly they control the image in other settings, the policy becomes even more understandable.

But there is another rule Olympic athletes must adhere to, Rule 40, that’s become a hot topic in the Olympic conversation on and offline. Simply put, Rule 40 limits Olympic athletes from mentioning their sponsors unless they are Top IOC partners (aka advertisers).

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CNN’s Roland Martin Suspended After Super Bowl Tweets

CNN Correspondent Roland Martin was indefinitely suspended by the network this week after the outcry over his Twitter commentary during the Super Bowl grew too loud for the network to ignore.

During last Sunday’s big game Martin took issue with David Beckham’s H&M ad, tweeting “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl”. At another point he wrote, “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass.” Many took his comments as advocating violence against gays and called for an apology, which trickled out over several days.

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Weekly Roundup: Dec. 1, 2011

School Bus

Blackboard is ubiquitous on college campuses these days–I used it constantly during my days at Georgetown and it was the one network where professors and students used it with almost equal fervor in my experience. So I was surprised to read about a tutor who was fired at Central Michigan University for using the service to schedule a meeting with other tutors over his concerns about the program. Not surprisingly, he’s planning to sue.

A PR firm in Arizona lost a contract with the Special Olympics after one of the partners tweeted about a local sports teams’ fans as “midgets” who posed “marketing challenges.” While he wasn’t referring specifically to the S.O., they didn’t take kindly to his poorly worded insult and ended their relationship with the firm, stat.

Photo by ImageMDToday’s image is related to school because there were some serious lessons learned in this week.

Cowboys Cheerleader Forced From Twitter By Team Management

Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving means family, overindulgence, naps on the couch–and for a lot of people football. No matter what, the Dallas Cowboys (aka America’s Team) always play on Thanksgiving. During this year’s game a Dallas cheerleader got in on the action when she was accidentally knocked down by tight end Jason Witten. Melissa Kellerman, the cheerleader in question, tweeted about the accident the following morning, which apparently did not sit well with Cowboys management. Kellerman was told to delete her Twitter account, according to news reports.

No explanation was given for the decision, and considering how benign the tweets were (see below) it looks like the Cowboys have created a story out of an otherwise non-issue that would have gone away much faster had they ignored her tweets in the first place. I hope she makes her way back to the Twittersphere soon!

WoSo Roundup: Nov. 17th Edition

Four uniform hats

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.

WoSo Roundup: Nov. 10th Edition


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.

WoSo Roundup: Nov. 3 Edition


November 2 marked the Dia De Los Muertos parade in San Francisco's Mission District. It was my first time seeing the parade and altars--amazing artful tributes to lost loved ones. Its a must see.

Its been a busy week for social faux-pas in the UK. But don’t worry, the US is still hanging in there…

An Apple employee in the UK was fired for bashing the company on Facebook, and courts sided with the company. Did he even read the employee manual? Apple is pretty strict about this stuff.

An Elon University football player has been suspended from the team for bashing his coaches via Twitter after a loss over the weekend.

Lastly, reporter/producer Caitlin Curran was fired this week after a picture of her holding a sign during an Occupy Wall Street rally in New York was tweeted widely. Curran wrote about her experience for Gawker–this is a great tale about the merging of political action, social media, and the workforce. As the Occupy movement continues I’m sure there will be more of this.

Social Media for Nurses

Hospital  (14)Nurses and other medical professionals are in a precarious position with social media. Their ability to access to the most sensitive information about people–health and medical details–can mean they can easily share details about patients inadvertently (or maliciously, as in these cases).

Compounding the issue is the fact that many hospitals haven’t yet addressed how to deal with social media on or off the clock, so staff are often at the mercy of discovering they’ve made a mistake after it happens (and many times, after they are out of a job). With HIPAA regulations about privacy governing what happens with identifiable data in medical settings, hospitals have to ensure they aren’t incurring the ire of the feds or becoming the target of expensive lawsuits.

The American Nurses Association is moving forward to make sure their members are armed with tools even in the absence of workplace guidance. They recently issued “ANA’s Principles for Social Networking and the Nurse” (available to members only). For nurses and other medical pros wanting more insight on how to deal with social media in the workplace, ANA is hosting a Twitter chat for nurses on social media use from 1-1:30pm EST this Friday, Sept. 23rd. You can join the chat with the hashtag  #anachat.

Touchdown! Top NFL Twitter Fails

It almost didn’t happen, but football season is back! With the NFL lockout earlier this year many players had a lot of down time on their hands, and as we know idle hands are the devils workshop. Unfortunately for some players that free time was just enough for them to make fools out of themselves on Twitter. So in honor of tonight’s first game of the regular season, here are a few of the most ridiculous Twitter gaffes from stars of the NFL:


Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall raised lots of pissed eyebrows AND lost a lucrative endorsement deal with Champion after he seemed to side with Osama bin Laden after his death. Mendenhall is suing Champion, saying they denied him his First Amendment right to free speech. Good luck with that one!


Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson took issue with the Lord after he dropped a game winning pass last Fall against Pittsburgh, and decided Twitter was the best place to let him know how he felt.


Chad Ochocinco loves to run his mouth and his fingers, even when the rules require something different-last year he sent a harmless message during a game about the pre-game warmup. Unfortunately the rules state-“Players can’t tweet 90 minutes before kickoff and till postgame media obligations met.” Oopsie!

With the new season getting started I can only imagine what Twitter goodness will be in store from the NFL this year! If you see any stellar madness from these athletes feel free to share in the comments.