Social media and the opportunity that it offers people to gain fame can be addictive. Yet, one misstep can cost you your reputation, and even your job. Today, all of your details, including your place of work, are available at the click of a button. So the next time you’re posting something on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, take a second to think about the consequences of that post reaching your bosses. Once you identify as an employee of a company on a public platform, you’re liable to scrutiny by your higher-ups. In this digital age, there’s no going back after you post something insensitive.
Vishnu Nandakumar, the assistant manager of a branch of Kotak Mahindra Bank in Kochi, was recently sacked by his employer after making a derogatory comment about the eight-year-old girl raped and killed in Kathua. He was of the opinion that it was a good thing she had been killed, as she would have grown up and bombed India.
After his post went viral, people flooded Kotak’s Facebook and Twitter accounts with comments demanding his dismissal. On April 13, Kotak Mahindra Bank issued a statement saying, “We have terminated Vishnu Nandakumar from the services of the bank on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, for poor performance. It is extremely disheartening to see such comments being made in the aftermath of such a tragedy by anyone, including an ex-employee. We strongly condemn his statement.”
Many companies are expanding their company policies and code of conduct to cover employees’ social media presence as well. But as the social media landscape continues to evolve, neither a platform’s policy nor a company’s policy can be as specific as it needs to.
CID Additional SP (Cyber Crimes) U. Ram Mohan recently said, “Never acknowledge a fake post by commenting on it. Either leave it alone or report it.”
Almost all social media platforms now have a “report abuse” feature. However, reporting a post doesn’t guarantee that it will be removed. If someone Tweets or sends a message that constitutes a violent threat, you may want to contact the police as well so that they can assess the validity of the threat, investigate its source, and respond to any concerns regarding safety.
The imprudent use of social media can jeopardise even established careers. It’s imperative for us to but also be proactive in reporting inappropriate posts before they go viral.
If the person making such insensitive comments is identified and brought to a company’s notice, he/she will definitely be sacked. Companies are taking this up very seriously. Before anyone joins a company, one of the basic clauses that employees have to sign is about brand reputation — publicly or in their personal lives, they must not behave in a way which would taint the company’s reputation. But this is very vague. It is possible in India but very tough to sack a person on these lines abroad. The employee will move to court against the company and the company will have to follow due process to prove which principle of the company this person has violated in order to be sacked.
— Rajesh Kumar, Vice President of TMI Group, an HR Services firm
They’ve been fired
- On Friday, May 11, DDI was alerted to the fact that an employee who worked as a consultant in India had made statements on social media that condoned violence against members of the community in the Kashmir region.
- Vishnu Nandakumar, the assistant manager of a branch of Kotak Mahindra Bank, was fired on April 11 for his derogatory comments on the victim of the Kathua rape case.
- Riyaz Ahmed was allegedly fired from his job in April after a national news channel displayed some of his tweets and brandished him as an abusive troll and hater.
- A constable of the Madhya Pradesh Police was suspended after a video that showed him siding with protesters went viral on social media.
- In February, Angshukanta Chakraborty, the political editor of the DailyO, was fired for tweeting, “Promoters turning a blind eye to hate-mongering, fake news spreading news anchors, editors, reporters and writers, or hiring them in the first place, must be tried in court as hate speech enablers-profiteers. Must be boycotted socially by secular politicians & industrialists. (sic)”
- Justine Sacco, a PR executive, was fired in 2013 for tweeting, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white! (sic)” before boarding a flight to South Africa.