There are a few basic rules to social media that people just don’t seem to get. Don’t circulate explicit photos of yourself. Don’t insult your work or your boss, because chances are they might see it. Don’t take pictures of yourself doing dumb stuff at work. Don’t videotape yourself doing something illegal. Don’t say things that are racist/sexist/homophobic/outright dumb without expecting some social backlash.
You might have heard of people who didn’t get a job because the hiring manager saw a photo of them drinking on Facebook, or people who were fired for tweeting about how they hated their jobs. These people, however found exceptional ways to completely screw themselves over with extraordinary social media blunders.
5. The Australian Miners who were fired for doing the Harlem Shake
How long does it take for 15 Australian miners to lose their jobs?
If they’re doing the Harlem Shake, approximately 30 seconds.
For those of you who were absent in 2013, the Harlem Shake is an internet dance craze that typically starts with one dancer in an otherwise normal environment, and then suddenly explodes into a chaotic dance party involving others, often with props and costumes. The 30 second clips are set to the song “Harlem Shake” by DJ Baauer.
At one point, according to the BBC, up to 4000 people were uploading their own versions of the Harlem Shake a day.
A few Australian miners decided to jump on the meme wagon, and filmed their own version of the Harlem Shake underground in the Agnew Gold Mine they were working in (it’s a mine, what else are you supposed to do for fun?). When their employer caught site of the video on Youtube, they promptly fired the eight miners who participated, and up to seven miners who were just watching, presumably for the laughs. The business, Barminco, sited violation of safety precautions as the reason for termination.
Do you think this 30 second video is comic gold enough that it was worth 15 miners losing their six-figure salary? You decide.
The moral of the story is: next time you goof off at work, don’t upload it to the internet where your boss might see it.
4. The PR Professional Who Tweeted a Joke About AIDS
On December 20, 2013,in an ill-judged moment that she will probably regret for the rest of her life, PR professional Justine Sacco posted a tweet moments before getting on a flight: a tweet that would change her life forever.
“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” she tweeted to roughly 200 followers.
Someone picked up the tweet, and sent it to Sam Biddle of ValleyWag, who posted it to the Gawker-owned website. Other members of the media picked up on the tweet, and the story began to circulate the Twittersphere. Enraged people began tweeting directly at Sacco, and her tweet spread like wildfire.
What did the suddenly infamous Sacco have to say for herself? Well, nothing, for the first 12 hours. Sacco was on an international flight without WiFi and so was unable to check her phone or computer. She was completely oblivious that people all over the world were talking about her tweet.
The internet waited with bated breath for Sacco’s plane to land in Cape Town, prompting the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. The hashtag went viral, and her tweet was shared over 2000 times.
When Sacco finally landed, she deleted both her post and her Twitter account without an explanation (wouldn’t you?).
Her company, InterActive Corp. (they own Ask.com, Dictionary.com and Match.com, to name a few), apologized to the public and fired Sacco.
Sacco later sent an apology to South African paper The Star, and said “”Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet. There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.”
3. The Girl whose snarky Facebook post cost her family $80 000
Dana Snay’s Facebook post probably wins the “most expensive post ever” award.
Dana Snay’s father, Patrick Snay, 69, was the head at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami for several years, but, in 2010, the school chose not to renew his contract for 2010-2011. Patrick Snay filed an age discrimination complaint. In November 2011, the school came to an agreement with Snay. They would pay Snay $10 000 in back pay in addition to $80 000 as a settlement, and paying Snay’s lawyers $60 000. The settlement came with one condition: to collect the $80 000, Patrick Snay and his wife must adhere to a confidentiality agreement that meant they could speak to no one outside of their attorneys and professional advisers about the settlement.
Snay broke confidentiality by telling his daughter, Dana. “She was retaliated against at Gulliver. So she knew we were going to some sort of mediation. Because of what happened at Gulliver, she had quite a few psychological scars which forced me to put her into therapy. So there was a period of time that there was an unresolved enclosure for my wife and me. We understood the confidentiality. So we knew what the restrictions were, yet we needed to tell her something,” he said in court documents.
This wouldn’t have been a problem if Dana had kept the knowledge of the settlement to herself. Instead, she took to Facebook.
“ Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” she bragged to her 1200 followers, many of them current and former Gulliver students.
Word got back to the school officials, and Third District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida ruled that Patrick Snay had violated the confidentiality agreement.
“His daughter then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent, advertising to the Gulliver community that Snay had been successful in his age discrimination and retaliation case against the school,” the court said.
The $80 000 settlement was withdrawn, and Dana presumably didn’t get her trip to Europe.
2. The Politician Who Accidentally Publicly Tweeted His Sext.
The aptly named former U.S. Representative and New York City Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner pulled a political faux pas in 2011 when he accidentally released a photograph of himself (or specifically, his crotch) clad in nothing but a set of boxers on his public Twitter feed.
Initially saying his account had been hacked, Weiner eventually admitted that it was in fact his nether regions in the photo, and that he had meant to send the photo directly to a university student in Washington state. It was revealed that Weiner had sent a whole string of explicit photographs and sexts to six women over the course of three years, both before and after his wedding.
Weiner resigned from his position as representative, and now works as a pundit columnist for Business Insider.
Weiner, always check the recipients before you send. And never sext over Twitter.
1. The Man Who Shared His Wanted Photo on Facebook, Was Arrested 45 Minutes Later.
Police in Pennsylvania had been hunting for Anthony James Lescowitch Jr for reportedly hitting a man on the head before he was robbed. Lescowitch managed to evade the police for three months, before he managed to lead them right to him.
Lescowitch spotted his wanted picture in a post on the local police department Facebook page, and re-posted it just three minutes later, saying “Lol i f***ing love it, A**HOLE.”
Friends liked and commented on the post, saying “I can’t like that!!” while another said “Good luck lmao”.
The Facebook activity caught the attention of the police. One officer, T.J. Rentschler, posed as a female on the social media site interested in Lescowitch, struck up a conversation with him, and convinced him to meet for a cigarette. A short 45 minutes later, police met with Lescowitch, and he was arrested.
Just after, police re-posted the photo with the caption ““CAPTURED!!!!!! SHARES OUR STATUS ON FACEBOOK ABOUT HIMSELF, CAPTURED 45 MINUTES LATER.”
Even the police can’t resist a bit of a brag.