Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hiding behind the Internet. No anonymity.

  1. Mar 3, 2010 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Some people think that they can say or do about anything they want on-line with no repercussions. A young woman who works with my wife may soon find out that is not true. She posted on MySpace or FaceBook (my wife was unsure which), saying that all her co-workers were imbeciles, and allegedly made comments to the effect that her co-workers probably couldn't get hired at WalMart. Word spread pretty fast, and she's certainly going to be disciplined, likely fired.

    She is a young, clueless girl who already has two kids fathered by two different men and is currently pregnant with the child of yet another man. She hasn't worked at the shoe-shop for long, and most of her co-workers are people with 10-30 years worth of experience in skilled jobs such as leather-cutting, stitching, etc. If you have ever checked out New Balance athletic shoes, you know that they are high-quality products, and they are not made by clueless dummies. The worst part of this is that she is not a line-worker, but acts as a go-between from the line to the line foreman. For someone in a position with a modicum of authority to publicly slam skilled workers on her production team is beyond tasteless. New Balance is a company that highly values teamwork, cohesiveness, and morale. FAIL!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2010 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Places like MySpace and Facebook have been the downfall of many people. You don't ever want to leave a trail to your real identity on any online website unless you are really, really careful.
  4. Mar 3, 2010 #3
    That's why I don't use my real name anywhere online and never mention the names of the places I work. I'm sometimes unsure if I should even have photos of myself up at all.

    I have some issues with the idea of people being punished at work for things they say online though people really ought to not be so stupid.
  5. Mar 3, 2010 #4
    She's going to get fired for making comments on a social networking site about her co-workers being imbeciles? That's gotta be the most rediculous thing I've ever heard. It has to be against SOME sorta law... like what the hell does telling your friends about the imbecile co-workers you have to put up with at work have to do with keeping your job?

    Are they now also going to start firing people when they come home and complain about their boss to the significant other?

    As well I don't think it takes much skill to work making shoes... I mean didn't Nike let poor children in China make their running shoes, and I would choose Nike running shoes over NB shoes anyday.

    EDIT: Of course maybe you live in a 'right to work' state... but anyways her ranting on facebook or myspace about whatever employee she wants to shouldn't be grounds for dismissal at all and if she's a productive, good worker while she's at work then I highly doubt that's what will happen.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  6. Mar 3, 2010 #5
    She called all her co-workers imbeciles. If you were her co-worker then you are an imbecile. Would you want to work with her?
  7. Mar 3, 2010 #6
    The difference between complaining to your spouse and posting it on the internet is everybody can see it on the internet. Posting complaints on the internet is less like talking to your spouse, and more like writing an op-ed in the local paper.
  8. Mar 3, 2010 #7
    Depends how worthy she is.
  9. Mar 3, 2010 #8
    No it's not, they are set-up with privacy options. Normally the privacy options are set to not allow people to read what you write or what others write on your page. etc.

    @waht, if she calls me an imbecile so what? Are you going to cry a river until your co-worker gets fired because they call YOU an imbecile? I sure am not and I know that I've worked with a bunch of imbeciles in my past jobs. I complained about them whenever I wanted to whoever I wanted including themselves. If they want to complain about me so be it, I don't really care.
    Let your work speak for itself and her work speak for itself as well. turbo-1 did not describe a person who brings this negativity to the workplace... perhaps she was just venting over the internet, is that illegal?

    Maybe turbo-1s wife should be fired since he's discussing matters pertaining to her workplace publicly over a forum???!!! Or that he's discussing internal affairs within the company over the internet which he could only have gotten the information about via his wife?
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  10. Mar 3, 2010 #9
    If she identified herself as an employee of the particular company then she is, informally, making herself a representative of that company and so has opened herself up to liability. What would you do if you owned a company and found that one of your workers was publicly stating opinions about the company that could potentially hurt business?

    Not quite. For your analogy to work we would have to be talking about a local paper with a few million pages. I assume it was her own myspace and facebook. Its sort of her own space that friends of hers may come and drop by at. While it is more or less public not many people are going to casually come across the page and read her opinions. Last I heard bitching about work among ones friends in a public place is not exactly something that one can be sued or fired for.
  11. Mar 3, 2010 #10
    Maybe if she had done that but turbo-1s situation does not explain this. All it says that she did was complain about her co-workers. I do not see anything wrong with this... it's not as though this lady is spreading slander about the company. Nor does it explain that she identified herself as an employee of the company, presumably her friends would know where she works though, to whom the message would be pressumably for.

    Actually I know plenty of people who just post messages about what they are thinking FOR THEMSELVES. Just so they can write it out, imagine a co-worker snooped through your diary and read personal comments about your workplace and told the boss... is this grounds for dismisal????

    In fact this looks bad on the company in only ONE way. A person who is a position such as she has (a 'modicum of authority') to not be able to complain about co-workers to supervisors etc. and instead have to complain privately over a social network (she assumed it would be private or else she would have posted it elsewhere) looks bad on the company in my opinion.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  12. Mar 3, 2010 #11
    I am more or less on your side regarding whether or not people should be terminated or disciplined for things that they post on the internet. There are however things that people ought to take into consideration when posting on the internet about their thoughts regarding personal acquaintances and the places that they go to on a regular basis. I have seen it myself that people often do not take any care and boldly say what ever they want about whom ever they please. They are the ones who often decide one day suddenly that it is a good idea to make their journal private. They also often wind up eventually ditching a journal and making a new one because too many people whom they have pissed off know about the old one. In short they are drama queens.

    Examining the situation we ought to assume that each side of the issue is doing approximately what we would expect from a common example. We can likely assume that the woman Turbo is referring to did not take much precaution to prevent people from reading her posts and likely did say whom she works for and just thought nothing of it. We can also assume that the company did not intentionally spy on her but more likely received information from some employee or friend (this being a small town sort of area) about what had been posted and are perhaps over reacting to something that should not be that big of a deal. There is no reason to take her side or that of the company and start making assumptions that either are doing exactly as they ought.

    In the end technically, legally, they likely have cause to fire her if the so choose.
  13. Mar 4, 2010 #12
    No it's not illegal. You can complain on people all you want. But there are consequences if your productivity depends on people you dissed. Co-workers like to band together in cliques, and they can make your life more miserable.

    As far as the boss is concerned, well it's the bosses show. I'm sure they can find a replacement in this economy if they wanted to.
  14. Mar 4, 2010 #13

    Char. Limit

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well, it says that the message spread. Thus, I doubt it was very private...

    Turbo, I completely agree with you here. One could argue even that publicly (and make no mistake, Myspace is a public area) calling your coworkers imbeciles creates a "hostile work environment". I'll bet the whole line hates her by now.
  15. Mar 4, 2010 #14
    http://www.pleaserobme.com has a list of all people who posted messages to the public proclaiming they were at a place other than their house. Also some lady sued Facebook because every time she rented a movie from BlockBuster, Facebook would post it to all of her friends.
  16. Mar 4, 2010 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    That's kind of silly. How do you know people left their house empty? They could easily have family or room mates.
  17. Mar 4, 2010 #16
    What kind of logic is that? If I send you a PM and you decide to tell everyone that has no bearing on the fact that it was intended to be private.

    If I posted something onto my facebook account then I intend that only people who are on my friends list would read it. I would also presume they wouldn't go and tell everyone but alas, some people need to cry about every little thing in their lives... Even crying about other people crying about their lives...
  18. Mar 4, 2010 #17
    Like it or not, posting anything on a public website is presenting it in the public sphere. It's therefore open for public consumption (even this message board) and you are forewarned to be careful what you say because there could be consequences. That's life. You take action and accept the consequences.

    Especially with "social networking" sites like Facebook. Pythagorean, some people (lots of people) on Facebook behave as if they're "only" talking to 1,284 of their best friends. They post pictures of their homes, write their address into their profile, and announce when the family is going on vacation, for how long, and where they're going. People know that houses will be left empty or with only casual attendance.

    I site such as this one allows a bit more anonymity (at least to other posters -- mods and admin have access to quite a bit of information about us) because we don't post our real names (Facebook behooves you to use your real name so everyone who has ever known you can find you) and, unless we specifically tell people we post here and direct them here, how is someone going to find us? (Other than, say, getting on our computers and going through our histories. Again, unlike Facebook, people don't know to come looking for any of us here.)

    And lots and lots of unintended consequences are arising from Facebook and whatnot. Employers are searching Facebook to take a look at prospective employees before hiring them. You know that picture of you face-down in the bathroom passed out with funny faces drawn on your butt in marker? Preceded by all of the pictures of the wicked party you and your friends had where you defaced public property? Yeah. Might want to take that down before applying for a job.

    So yes, what turbo's wife's co-worker did was entirely inappropriate and she deserves to be let go for it. As an HR person, if one of my employees was bad-mouthing fellow employees and management on Facebook, that would tell me that they a) don't value their job, b) don't respect the company, c) don't want to work with us. They shot their mouth off in a very public place. I'd be more than happy to help them pursue other career goals.

    There is no expectation of privacy on the Internet especially when you put all of your personal information out there. Facebook and Myspace and those sites are designed to do perform precisely that way and most people forget that the whole world is watching.
  19. Mar 4, 2010 #18


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Unfortunately for the young woman with the bad attitude and poor judgement, this is an at-will employment state. You can be fired without cause, and in this case, management probably has sufficient cause anyway. After she managed to tick off all the "imbeciles" on her production team, it's hard to see a future for her at the plant.
  20. Mar 4, 2010 #19


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    I have to agree on the side of non-anonymity. If you post, text or email something, you should always treat it as though it WILL end up in the sight of the person you are talking about.

    Here's a timely example of Facebook cluelessness that was in the news yesterday. I can only imagine the punishment this guy will suffer. :rolleyes:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100303/od_nm/us_israel_facebook_odd" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  21. Mar 4, 2010 #20


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Punishment? He'll probably become a CNN reporter :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook