Everyday, millions of people use social media as a means of communication. If you have been reading my blogs thus far, you know the deal about online permanence: social media sites make it easy for people to say or show things to the rest of the world, and, with that said, the Internet then becomes sort of a digital permanent record. Everything an online user is responsible for publishing stays in cyberspace and will be there until tomorrow, six months from now, and for many years to come.
When we think about permanence, of course the top factors that will pop into our heads are Facebook posts, Tweets, YouTube videos, etc. We may even think of blog posts, like this one, that allow people online to share their interests and thoughts on different topics. However, do we ever really acknowledge the comments that people leave on other people’s works? There have been news reports and articles that speak of people—famous and not—who have done things online that have cost them their jobs. Tweets and pictures posted on Facebook are the most common evidence of people’s mistakes online. However, when it comes to posting comments on blogs and other articles, who would think that one’s chances of getting caught in that environment could be that great?
Kotaku is a site dedicated to video games. It is a hub for blogging, cheats, news, and reviews. Earlier this year, blogger for Kotaku, Jason Schreier posted about two employees from Alpine Access, Xbox’s tech support system services. Both employees had very similar situations occur on Kotaku where they left comments that mentioned their company. The first former support agent for Xbox ‘s comment was seen by a higher member of Microsoft who then brought it up to the manager. The man Schreier refers to as “Bob” said, “I was then reminded that we weren’t allowed to speak about the company, or anything related to it on social media sites or any related sorts.” After being asked by his manager if he had mentioned the company on Kotaku, Bob responded that he had, and was given a three-day suspension from work. On the third day of his suspension, Bob got a call from his manager…he was fired. In an email, Bob had said, “I believe this entire thing was taken a little too far. I understand that it can make Microsoft look bad with an employee talking bad about their customer. But what I was saying wasn’t as bad as they are making it seem.” Below is Bobs comment on Kotaku.
The second man from Alpine Access was also fired from his job after commenting on Kotaku, his scenario being a little different from Bob’s. “A couple of months ago, [“we’ll call him ‘Frank’”] was asked to get on a conference call with three Alpine executives who accused him of stealing from Microsoft by generating codes that give out free time on Xbox Live’s premium Gold Membership” (Schreier). Frank said, “They claimed the reason they’re firing me is because I broke the non-disclosure agreement I signed when they hired me. This agreement stated that I’m not allowed to tell anyone I work for Microsoft or Xbox.” Below is Frank’s comment on Kotaku.
Surprisingly, Frank was a good sport when responding to being fired for his comment, “In all honesty, if I was an employer and my employee wrote something like that about a product I was trying to sell, I could see myself firing them too…I’m upset about losing my job, but I understand where they’re coming from.” As unfortunate as this story is, these two men learned their lesson on what not to say online that could cause trouble. One could only hope that others learn from these stories and be careful about what they say/do on the Internet.