The expression “Loose Lips May Sink Ships,” was coined by the U.S. Navy during WWII to remind sailors of the importance of keeping information out of the hands of the enemy. Though this expression may still be used by the military, civilians would be well-advised to embrace the concept as it pertains to modern-day social media use. An updated version of the expression might be “loose fingertips may bring pink slips”.
Your personal enemy may not be planning an air, land and sea assault, yet the damage that can be done by thoughtless social media posts can be devastating in its own way. In fact, it’s likely the ‘enemy’ is not an adversary at all, he’s only your employer, customer or other person who has an interest in your online behavior. Online interactions should never be considered private communications. Following are some interesting examples:
- A very sociable employee of a large medical practice quickly became ‘friends’ with many of the doctors on Facebook. On more than one occasion doctors noted that she had made posts during working hours referring to how bored she was. It soon became apparent that there wasn’t enough work to keep her busy so they eliminated her position.
- I read a very disrespectful tweet regarding President Obama made on the business account of a successful entrepreneur in the field of social media consulting. When called out on the unprofessional behavior his response was that his account had been hijacked. True or nice recovery?
- This was posted under Chrysler’s Twitter account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (bleeping) drive!” Seems the post was made by an individual in the social media agency hired by the automaker. His mistaken post to the wrong account not only cost him his job but the agency lost the account.
- A well-publicized event occurred when former NY Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexually suggestive Twitter pic resulted in great public humiliation and the loss of his seat in Congress.
- Recently the Minnesota Wild suspended Houston Aeros prospect Justin Fontaine for two games for using a gay slur in a tweet to a teammate during the Grammys award show. He soon followed-up by deleting the post and apologized, but not before it had been retweeted by another teammate.
What do these scenarios all have in common? It seems the posters’ need to say something prevailed over common sense and professionalism. Social media sites are a great place to engage in conversational types of exchanges but are not private. Pay careful attention to everything you post online because like loose lips may sink ships it’s also true that loose fingertips may bring pink slips.