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When Facebook Backfires

By Christopher Schonberger

A little cautionary tale for your Tuesday morning…

Usually when you hear about people who actually lose their jobs over social networking snafus, it’s on the local news and involves a middle-school teacher who posed in a picture while dressed in a bee costume and drinking an ambiguously alcoholic liquid out of a jack o’ lantern cup. Usually, she just got tagged (no pun intended!) and didn’t even post the picture herself. Tragic. This is the extreme end of the spectrum.

But what about the people who just get minorly exposed and embarrassed in the workplace when their online existence is unearthed? Meet Kevin Colvin, a bank intern who told his manager he had to take a day off to attend to a “family emergency” in New York. Except, several days later, he received a reply CC’ed to the whole office featuring a picture of him at a Halloween party in Worcester. In a very suspect fairy costume. Drinking an unambiguous Busch Light. Taken the night when he was supposedly dealing with his "family emergency."

I bet when he saw that email Kevin was wishing he could use his magic wand to transform himself into a little toad and go into hiding. But I have a sneaking suspicion he’s not really a fairy.

The lesson here is to never lie when you’re an intern, because no one really cares that much about what you do. The other lesson is that parties in Worcester are terrible, as I learned when I tried to attend a Diplomats concert there.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend of professionals getting on Facebook not to necessarily do background checks but because they think it’s cool. The problem is, I really have no interest in seeing some fool with his wife and kids on Facebook, and being friends with someone like this garners no benefits but creates many risks. Let’s make them pariahs and force them out!

Anyway, enough of that rant. I can rail against 30-something on social networks all day, but the reality is that you need to check yourself lest you wreck yourself these days. Check out our survival guide on “Cleaning Up Your Online Profile” for some tips.

Update: This story is spreading like wildfire. The problem these days is that not only do you get axed from your job, but you also get shamed and lampooned by the entire Internet. People will forget, but this stuff will forever be out there…

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