You’d be amazed how fast the internet moves. Justine Sacco tweeted that she hoped she wouldn’t get AIDS just before hopping on a plane to Africa. Really, she wasn’t all that worried because “Just kidding. I’m white!” She was practically fired before she even landed. This is not the first time Twitter’s got someone fired, but is the internet’s dedication to social justice a good thing?
At this point, the list of people who have slipped up on Twitter is long. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired from his position as the voice of Aflack’s spokesduck after Tweeting a tsunami joke. An extra on the set of Glee was blacklisted by several agencies after she tweeted episode spoilers during filming. It doesn’t take long either. Phil Hardy’s accidental tweet posted to Congressman Raul Labrador’s feed only stayed up 14 seconds, but it was too late for him too.
It seems like these gaffes are ever present on social media, as people struggle to manage multiple accounts, or they let their usual pleasant demeanour slip under the influence of alcohol. Or maybe their joke is a little too barbed. The more interesting phenomenon is not that a mistake can get you fired, but that a mistake will have the internet crowd baying for your blood.
YouTube personality and product reviewer Nathan “Blunty” Burr tweeted about the latest outrage in no uncertain terms.
Whether its everyone getting in a tizz about Duck Dynasty stars, or politicians like Anthony Weiner, the internet isn’t satisfied until there’s a head on a pike.
When millions online are just waiting for the next scandal to explode, businesses, personalities, and even those in regular jobs might have to remember that social media is not their friend. The digital self is not a private self and it can take mere seconds to ruin a reputation — or your employer’s reputation.
Services like Twitter make it very easy to reduce a person down to that one 140 character mistake, but few take the time to reflect. Besides, Justine Sacco would have likely been fired anyway, even without the memes and retweets.
Image credit: Eligius4917