Here’s a painfully simple lesson to stop an HR problem from becoming a big PR problem: discourage your employees from using their personal Twitter accounts to share their horribly racist opinions with the rest of the world.
To readers who don’t live in New York and may have missed the story, two Fire Department employees (one of whom happens to be the commissioner’s son) got some justifiably bad press for posting racist statements on their feeds. The first guy’s tweets included some slurs we’ve never even heard of as well as this infamous statement:
“I like jews about as much as hitler. #toofar? NOPE.”
Clever! The commish’s son later “chose to retire” from the force while the second offender got suspended without pay after being “outed” by the New York Post. Of course the NYPD would rather avoid the NYFD’s self-inflicted PR headache, so this week the organization released its first set of strict social media guidelines.
According to these rules, officers can’t disclose their law enforcement status or post pics of themselves in uniform except at official department events (which kind of undermines the first rule, but OK…). They also can’t create pages about department operations. This comes after 15 cops got punished for leaving racist comments on a Facebook page called “No More West Indian Day Detail” created to mock New York’s massive West Indian Day Parade.
We have two questions: why didn’t they do this earlier and don’t they realize these cops will just use pseudonyms if they want to complain about “those people” on social media?
Does your company have social media guidelines? Is the NYPD a little late on this trend?