A Smart Phone Could Cost You Your Job

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The look on this guy’s face when he realizes the implications of the video that was just posted to YouTube is priceless.  It’s a great reminder that even something benign posted to a social media site can have consequences for us in the workplace.

It’s Like Living Your Life on a Movie Set

If you’re like me, it’s probably hard to separate you from your smart phone.  I can’t imagine going through a day now without my iPhone within arm’s reach.  They’re handy to have around for just about everything.

When my sister was married last year, I must have had 50 pictures posted on FaceBook by the time they left for their honeymoon.  Only a few relatives could make the trip down from Indiana, so it was great to share the moment with them.

It never occurred to me though that maybe someone at the wedding, especially the reception, may not have wanted their picture plastered over FaceBook.  Who knows if a picture I thought was harmless caused grief for someone in the pictures.

I doubt that when they were getting dressed to go to my sister’s wedding they were thinking about their starring role on my FaceBook account.

Blame it on Kevin Bacon

What if someone saw the champagne glass in that person’s hand who wasn’t supposed to be drinking?  Try explaining it was sparkling cider to your boss while you were on-call as a nurse or to the Sunday school class you teach.

It’s amazing how many people you’re connected to through the people you know and the people they know.  It’s the whole seven degrees of separation game except you’re Kevin Bacon.  Is their boss’s spouse or pastor in your social media network?

I was connected to over 1 million people on LinkedIn with only 50 people in my contact list.  It’s insane how technology instantly connects us to so many people.  It’s likely I was sharing the moment with many more people than I’ll ever know.

Getting Fired Over a Social Media Post

The number of people losing their jobs because of something appearing on a social media network is on the rise.  I saw a post the other day of someone being fired through a comment left by their boss in response to their status update.

I guess she forgot her boss was one of her friends.  My wife is a teacher, and she has to ignore hundreds of friend requests from her former students every year.  She’s seen how an innocent post from another teacher caused an uproar among parents, and she’s not taking any chances.

No matter how careful she is though, there’s always someone like me around to snap a picture or record an embarrassing video with their smart phone.

Smart Phone Dos and Don’ts

Maybe we all need a dose of good old-fashioned etiquette?  I know I could use some.  The next time you grab your smart phone to capture the moment make sure you’ve done the following.

  • Let everyone in the picture/video know you’re filming. We all know that everyone acts differently when they’re on camera.  Smart phones make it too easy to candidly capture the moment.  It might not be obvious to everyone what you’re doing.
  • Ask permission BEFORE you post that picture/video online. Your social media account actually requires you to have these permissions before you post.  Something your friend may know will cause grief for them might not be something you think about.

What did I miss?  Do you have a story or a tip about capturing the moment on your smart phone?  I’d love to hear it.

Article by

Brad's Big Feet Marketing helps people on a limited budget enlarge their online footprint using blogging & social media. His other blog, Marketplace Christianity, examines faith's role in how we earn and spend money.

Brad has written 95 awesome articles for us at Bradley A Harmon

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin Germino July 29, 2010 at 11:00 am

I read in the paper last week about the PepsiMax and Coke Zero ads going head to head and thought this was brilliant and clever. It also illustrates how someone being captured on video from a smart phone can jeopardize their reputation and careers.

You are absolutely right about everyones lives are becoming much more public whether you know it or not you could be on the internet at any time everytime you leave your house. You could be in a photo taken at a restaurant, movie, or anything else.
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Brad Harmon July 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

If their commercials are anything like this one, it’ll be a great campaign. You just never know anymore where you’ll be captured on video. We see smart phone videos on the news just about every day capturing something that a few years ago would go unnoticed.

This video just made me think about all of the innocent moments that I’ve captured and shared without ever thinking of the impact my actions might have had for those in the pictures. Maybe my sisters weren’t just concerned about how their hair looked after all?


bbrian017 July 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

I loved reading this because it’s becoming more of a problem everyday. The thing is social media doesn’t lie. When your out getting hammered but should be at work, when your smoking that big fat joint and your camera is taking video or whatever it is we simply have no private time or down time.

This is the exact reason why I said social media will bring world peace. Eventually the communist and dictator leader will be proven wrong or bad from social media the truth always comes out. From this we will have revolt and perhaps eventually world peace.

For now we have to find a way to minimize the impact of social media in our personal lives but it’s almost impossible because to control social media you have to control everyone and everything around you.

We all know that’s just impossible.
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Brad Harmon July 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

I don’t know about world peace, but I guess you never know. I just saw a news blurb about Russia banning YouTube, and China and Google’s fight may never really be resolved. It does seem governments don’t want this level of scrutiny.

Maybe some of what your suggesting is already happening though. Despite their best attempts to squash it, smart phone videos still stream the government abuses in Iran.

The ubiquitous nature of smart phones combined with social media does seem to be casting down the last visages of personal privacy. If our government ran efficiently, the threat of Big Brother might be terrifying to think about. Our employers, however, are much more apt to find something about us online and use it against us.

I just wonder how many of us are providing this fodder unintentionally by posting content we think is innocent.


Sourav July 29, 2010 at 11:35 am

A month or two ago there was news about a waitress who was fired because of her Facebook status update (you have written something like this in your post too).
The thing is that the privacy thing is reducing at a rapid rate…and if we talk about social media, well, I have nothing to say about privacy there.
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Brad Harmon July 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

Isn’t it amazing how quickly all of these technologies are combining? I agree with you that our privacy is disappearing. Some of it we are freely giving up by sharing it on social media sites. It makes you want to be very picky who you accept as friends. No?


Sourav July 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Absolutely. It’s very important to check out the profile of the other person before accepting the friend request. If all informations are hidden or something looks fishy, I generally do not accept the friend request (specially on FB).


Kissie July 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

The Truman Show! That’s what social media is doing to us.

You’re talking about someone getting fired … I recently heard about someone who didn’t get hired because she tweeted that the interview went great! Before she got home, she received the message that the company frowned upon things like that and she was not the candidate for them. Wow.

Finally, I have a confession to make. I was on the train one evening going home from work and this woman occupied two seats because she was slumped over asleep and I was angry I couldn’t have one of them so she was one of my first Twitpics … Brad, I couldn’t dare wake her for permission. (I won’t do it again.)
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Brad Harmon July 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm

That was a great movie. I don’t know where she interviewed but it sounds like they have some great listening posts set up. I wonder if they’re that responsive to customers?

Smart phones make it so easy for us to do something like that in the heat of the moment, don’t they? Those thoughts have run through my head on more than one occasion too.


Kissie July 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

What I want to know is why were they following her tweets? Maybe she used a hashtag, that was just way too fishy for me. And, you’re right – they should have EXCELLENT customer service.
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Brad Harmon July 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm

My guess is that she used the company’s name and it was picked up by a listening post, but I’ve heard of companies that set them up on their employees and potential candidates going for second/third interviews. Maybe they had a good business reason for people to be discreet?


Sue Miley August 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I am particularly sensitive about it for my kids. For their generation it is second nature to put pictures, videos, etc for everything they do. I even have to tell me kids to ask each other permission before they post a picture of their brother or sisters.

And, like has already been said, sometimes it is just your association with someone that doesn’t make the same decisions as you do.

As a blogger I try to be cautious and sensitive to what I post. Still wisdom is in the eye of the beholder.

Great post Brad.


Brad Harmon August 3, 2010 at 8:44 am

My son is only 7 years old now, so we haven’t had to address this issue with him yet; however, my wife’s 15 year old cousin stays with us during spring break and a couple of times during the summer. She was texting, on FaceBook, or Skyping every time I looked this summer. It’s definitely second nature to them.


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