Facebook has been around for years now. Most of us are quite familiar with how social media works and especially how what we say online can impact our personal lives. Simply put — don’t post something political, controversial and especially racist on Facebook if you aren’t ready to reap the consequences. One Houston woman learned this lesson the hard way after losing her job because of a highly insensitive Facebook post.
A woman chose to air her grievances about the current racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, following Michael Brown’s tragic death on Aug. 9, 2014. Understandably, any time that a major public event takes place, social media is abuzz. However, what this woman wrote on her Facebook feed is reprehensible.
Her Facebook post stated, “The police need to just start mowing them down with machine guns, purge them.”
Her post has been called “very racist,” and rightly so. One observer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he was “highly offended.” At the time of the Ferguson post, the woman was employed at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital in Houston. Though the hospital worker posted the controversial comment to her private Facebook page, social media “privacy” was quickly breached as her Facebook friends shared the post numerous times.
In a rapid domino effect that can happen to any social media user, the woman’s workplace soon found out about her aggressive opinion. Understandably, the hospital where she worked was offended by not only her insensitivity but her representation of her workplace.
The woman lost her job. Her former employer, Memorial Hermann, took to social media to defend the hospital’s reputation. The hospital tweeted the following response to her actions: “A non-nurse employee posted an offensive comment. MH absolutely disagrees with that post. We have a 107-year history of serving everyone. The individual is no longer an employee of Memorial Hermann.”
In a situation like this, it is easy for social media users to cry out, “But what about freedom of speech?” Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but it does not come without consequences. This woman was and is allowed to say whatever she would like on her private Facebook page, no matter how offensive it might be. Her former employer is also allowed to fire her for misrepresenting their brand — an organization that provides compassionate care to all people.
The woman’s racist Facebook post has been removed, but it is too late. While social media may seem like the perfect place to debate and share political views, you aren’t above reproach.