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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | post

Getting "Twipped Up" by a Tweet

by Neal O'Farrell on

In today’s article, Intersections’ Consumer Security Adviser Neal O’Farrell talks about the dangers of social media.

One tweet, one word, one mistake. That's all it took to not only cost a media executive his job, but also placed the jobs of twenty of his colleagues in jeopardy.

That's according to a recent story on AP. The first victim to be "twipped up" by the tweeting was the media executive working under contract to Chrysler in Detroit. While stuck and frustrated in traffic clogging the motorway, he used a common expletive in a pretty tame 140 character observation about how bad Michigan drivers really were.

But instead of posting it on his personal twitter feed, it inadvertently made it to Chrysler's corporate Twitter feed. And the motor city giant was not pleased.

In what some might see as a typical overreaction by an overly sensitive corporate giant, Chrysler went into damage control mode and not only fired the tweeter, but took the entire account away from the media company that employed him.

Which meant twenty of his colleagues also lost their jobs. A very high price to pay for a simple error of judgment. Maybe too high. Certainly this executive's future in the media business is probably in great doubt, and who knows what damage will be done to the small business that lost such a big account.

But maybe it will backfire on Chrysler too, who may be seen as too sensitive to the small flub and way too insensitive to hardworking locals who may now be joining Michigan's very, very long unemployment line.

And exactly what was the offending tweet? “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.”

But it does serve as a warning. Nothing you post on social networking is safe or private. Employers are increasingly showing zero tolerance for anything done or said on social networks that might negatively impact their business or reputation.

In September 2010, email security firm Proof Point releases a study that found 20% of companies polled had disciplined employees for social networking mistakes or policy breaches, and 7% had actually fired employees. And in the recent 2011 Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Survey Report, users of social networks are twice as likely to suffer identity fraud compared to those who do not.

Which may be why more than half the companies polled actually ban the use of Facebook in the workplace, and nearly a third ban LinkedIn.

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