Social media has brought wonders to our lives where it has become a platform to express ourselves and for others to engage with us. News outlets use Twitter as a quick and easy means to break news while celebrities and larger organisations use social media to get closer to their fans and audiences. In some parts of the world, it is even used to start a revolution. Thousands have gotten their 15 minutes of fame as a result of funny tweets or YouTube videos (I once got 200 retweets).
That’s all the good side of it but what happens if you post something up on social media – be it a status update, comment or video – that’s not entirely favourable? And worst still, what if it goes viral and you start getting slammed by keyboard warriors from everywhere, strangers and friends included?
That aside – how would it affect your personal life, like your job?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look good and there have been several cases of people losing their jobs because of what went down in social media. In November 2018, Edi Rejang – that guy who was berating a female beer promoter in a supermarket while videotaping the entire thing – lost his job in a company where he’s been working for more than 10 years. Then in December 2018, Honda staff Caryn Yean was suspended and ultimately terminated from her post for insensitive comments on Facebook pertaining the death of a firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.
Earlier this year, Eric Liew was arrested for sedition over rude comments about the Agong’s resignation – that’s more than just losing your job! And of course, the most recent social media hoo-ha? Medical student Kiren Raj on his sexist comments regarding the death of 27-year-old actress Emily Kong that started an online petition to stop him from becoming a doctor as well as widespread scorn on social media that eventually led to him being suspended from his university.
At this point, we can agree that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But here’s the question: If social media is supposed to be a place where you can share your thoughts and views, then why all these repercussions and why shouldn’t you be allowed to say whatever you think? And can a company fire a person for what he or she posted online?
To get an expert’s perspective on this situation, we spoke to a practising lawyer in the area of industrial law with almost 20 years of experience in the field and here’s what she had to say:
“Whether what you post on social media gives the Company the right to dismiss you depends on the facts of each case. No two cases are the same. As an industrial practitioner, I would advise employees to refrain from posting any comment on social media that relates to sensitive or delicate issues. In the recent cases of Kiren Raj, Edi Rejang, Caryn Yean and Eric Liew, these individuals would not have gotten into trouble if they had not posted such comments in the first place. Whilst it is open for them to challenge their dismissal at the Industrial Court, their careers have in the meantime been jeopardised, as a result of their posting in social media. Anyone who posts anything on social media should always ensure that they do responsibly, and their comments must be fair and tactful.”
Do you think employees should be reprimanded for expressing their views on social media? Do companies have the right to fire you for your social media postings? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
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