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How to Not Get Fired Using Facebook at Work: Fussing Over Unflattering Photos

Last week, I started the first of a four-part series on “How to Use Social Media and Not Jeopardize Your Job." This week, we're covering a scenario where two colleagues have taken their in-office animosity online:

Dan and Jeff are like oil and water in the office. Despite sharing a common mission, they can't seem to get along. They're always taking not-so-subtle digs at one another in meetings and small camps of sympathetic colleagues have formed around each of them.

The problem: they are both excellent performers overall, meeting deadlines and accomplishing team goals. However, things really seemed to have gone too far when Dan found an unflattering personal photo of Jeff on Flickr, posted it on his Facebook page and used it as his screensaver at the office. Jeff spoke with Dan's supervisor and reported the incident to HR. Dan was forced to take the image off his work computer but refused to remove it from his Facebook page, stating that he could do what he wanted with his personal account.

  • How would you handle this type of situation from the perspective of Dan's supervisor?
  • How about from the vantage point of HR?
  • As a colleague?

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Recommendation for the Supervisor:

  • The behavior issues, including the Facebook photo, should be addressed as conduct (not performance) elements and considered as part of Dan’s evaluation.
  • Set a concrete date for removal of the photo.
  • If the supervisor is responsible for both Jeff and Dan, s/he should sit them down together and address the issues jointly.


Recommendation for HR:

  • Establish a clear policy for this type of scenario.
  • Tie into existing policy that prohibits the posting of inappropriate photos or images in the office place, or addresses the appropriate use of the Internet.
  • Work with the supervisor and legal counsel to develop the most appropriate course of action, then stand behind the supervisor in his/her decision.


Recommendation for Colleagues:

  • Encourage Dan to remove the photo from Facebook. Recommend that Jeff check the Internet for other photos of himself that could be troublesome.


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