Every once in a while, I see posts – images, videos, tweets, and comments – that make me go “what were they thinking?” I am glad that there was no social media when I was younger. Discretion was not my forte.
Indiscretion on social media can cost you – big time!
Take for instance the case of Axelle Despiegelaere, the17-year-old World Cup fan who was recently offered a modelling contract by L’Oreal after photos of her cheering for the Belgium team went viral. However, in a matter of days her road to riches came to an abrupt end as a result of her Facebook post that resulted in this headline L’Oreal severs ties with viral World Cup model after crass hunting photo emerges. Shooting animals for fun was not quite what L’Oreal had in mind when they picked their new model!
What was she thinking? My sense is that she wasn’t.
When it comes to insensitive or inflammatory posts on social media, the primary concern is that potential employers or business associates may see it and make judgements based on it. Most consequences are indirect – like being passed up for a job. However, a couple of recent incidents have made me look at it a little differently.
Duff Watson, a Minnesota man, was recently asked to deplane with his two children from a Southwest Airlines flight after he sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent. To re-board the plane and head home, Watson was forced to delete the offending tweet that read “”RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA.” Perhaps it was the mention of the agent’s name that made the airline go to such extreme measures.
What would you do if you were in Mr. Watson’s shoes?
Then there is the case of Caroline Doudet, a fashion blogger from France. Ms. Doudet was ordered by a French judge to pay fines totaling €2,500 in damages and expenses to a restaurant owner, for her scathing review that she titled “The place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino.” The review seems to have garnered enough attention for it to start ranking high in Google search results causing the restaurant to lose a significant amount of business. Siding with the restaurateur, the Judge ordered Ms. Doudet to soften the title of her post and pay the fines or face further legal consequences.
To avoid further aggravation and costs Ms. Doudet complied. What would the judge have done if Ms. Doudet was not a French citizen?
Can these incidents really be called indiscretions?
Surely, the teen soccer fan made a gross error in judgement that cost her dearly. The case involving Southwest Airline, and Il Giardino are more subjective in nature.
One thing is clear – the timing and the impact of your post, tweet or comment can land you in more trouble than you expect.
So, where do you draw the line on free speech?