Use Facebook, Get Arrested. Use Twitter, Get Fired.

Social networking is a phenomenon that has taken over with shocking speed. The growth in popularity of sites like Facebook and microblogging application, Twitter, has exploded.  (Facebook reported that it has 300 million users as of last month!)  The problem with anything that grows so fast, though, is the growing pains that come with it. 

For social media, there is a clear gap between the law and the technology, as employers battle to come to terms with social-media use in the workplace and companies worry about trademark violation and improper disclosures made by employees whose online voices have the potential of reaching an unlimited number of listeners.

In short, there are numerous ways that a Facebook posting or Twitter tweet can land you in hot water.  Here are a few that social-media devotees should consider before their next online excursion.

Use Facebook, Get Arrested

I bet you didn’t think that Facebook could land you in jail, right? Well, here’s a story about a woman who was arrested for “poking” a friend on Facebook. [When you “poke” a friend’s page, the friend is notified on his or her home page. You can poke friends to say “hello.”  If you poke a user who normally does not have access to your profile, they will be able to temporarily see your Basic Info, Work Info, and Education Info.]  In this case, Shannon D. Jackson, 25, of Hendersonville, TN, was arrested for poking a Facebook friend because the woman who was poked (the “pokee”?) had filed a legal order of protection against Jackson (the “poker”?).  The order prohibited Jackson from any kind of communication, apparently including online poking.

Use Twitter, Get Fired

Another way to get in trouble online (although not arrested, necessarily), is to tweet negatively about your employer, particularly your boss. A quick Twitter search turned up lots of great examples, making me think that employers should consider doing the same to see just what exactly their employees are saying about them–and from work, no less!  Here’s just one of the many:


(For more salacious tweets showing less than stellar judgment by tweeting workers, see this post on

Other Posts About Social Media and the Workplace:

Employers Make Headlines With Facebook and Twitter Policies

Jury Verdict Against Employer Who Accessed Employee’s MySpace Page

Hopeful New Lawyers Will Be Subject to a Social-Media Review

One thought on “Use Facebook, Get Arrested. Use Twitter, Get Fired.

  1. A recent case held that an employer may be liable for violation of the federal stored communications act if it without authorization accesses a private chat room and then fires the employee because of derogatory comments about the employer.


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