Social media posts can cost you your job, the First Amendment has no protection

facebook news hire
bloomua / 123rf
Do you think you can post anything you want on social media and not lose your job? Do you believe that because the First Amendment protects your right to free speech and expression your employer can’t fire you? If that is your understanding, you have plenty of company, but you’re wrong. In HubShout‘s 2016 Social Media Conduct Survey, 71.6 percent weren’t aware the First Amendment does not apply to employers.

It is not a trick. The question asked was, “Do you believe that getting fired because of a social media post is an infringement First Amendment rights?” Of the respondents, 41.2 percent were certain the First Amendment protected them and 30.4 percent were not sure. So overall, 71.6 percent did not understand that if you rant about politics or religion, put up pics your employer finds offensive, or even just post negative comments, you can be on the streets with no recourse. The First Amendment protects you from “interference or constraint” by the government, but offers no protection from employers.

In 2015, according to HubShout quoting a survey by CareerBuilder, “18 percent of employers said they had fired an employee for something they posted on social media.”

The one exception relates to posting about work or work-related matters. But the exception holds only if the post has to do with a “protected concerted” activity, which means it has to relate to a group action, a group complaint or seeking a group response. In that single type of activity, you cannot be fired, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). But the post cannot just be you complaining about something.

For example, you could post to fellow employees, “We’ve got to get management to do something about the stupid copy machines we are all forced to use.” That is fine and protected. But post, “I can’t stand the stupid copy machine I have to use,” and you are putting your job in jeopardy.

You cannot say that no one at the company told you about social media posts. If your employer does not have a social media policy, it does not matter. Although if it does, maybe you received the message.

Employers absolutely use social media to look beyond job candidates’ wonderfully focused, solution-oriented resumes and polished interviews to see what applicants are really like. In an April survey by Careerbuilder, 49 percent of hiring managers who use social media for screening found posts or information that filtered out the applicants.

The top five hiring employer’s social media turn-offs were provocative or heavy-duty party pics, videos, or information, posts about applicants drinking or doing drugs, discriminatory comments about race, religion, gender, or other protected classes, badmouthing co-workers or previous employers, or even just poor communication skills.

According to CareerBuilder’s Chief Human Resources Officer Rosemary Haefner, “The challenge is how to reach top talent, and social media is a great way to do that — meet people where they’re already spending a lot of their time. Similarly, with all the social tools available, it’s easier to find out who a candidate really is behind the resume and cover letter and lessen the risk of hiring the wrong candidate.”

But that does not mean you should wipe or delete all your social media accounts. The CareerBuilder survey found 41 percent of hiring managers are more likely to pass on interviewing candidates who have no online presence. Employers seek information about your personal values, behavior, and culture from social media accounts, in effect treating your online info as part of your resume.

If you treat your social media profiles and posts as important parts of your personal branding, your online presence can work in your favor. Careerbuilders was not only looking for employer turn-offs but also the types of social media content that could boost a candidate’s hiring chances.

The top five types of content on your accounts that could help you get the nod or least a call back are background information that supports the job qualifications, evidence that your personality fits the company culture, conveying a professional image, consistently demonstrating good communications skills, and evidence of creativity.

Social Media

Instagram now lets you post to multiple accounts in one tap

Instagram for iPhone now lets you post to multiple accounts at the same time. It's not the regram feature that many users have been asking for, but it could prove useful for some users who manage more than one profile.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.

Turn to these apps to help you in your next hunt for a job

Looking for a job can be a stressful experience, but these days, a simple mobile app can help you to find and apply for jobs all over the country -- here are some of the best job search apps for iOS and Android.

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.