Pretty much everybody is on one social media network or another. Regardless of privacy concerns and complaints of stalking, harassment, and photos being stolen and used for marketing or fake profiles, we all love being able to connect with each other.
We’re all know aware that what you post on social media can have dire consequences, and people are routinely accosted for opinions or other updates posted online.
Personally I use social media mostly to troll as a means of building my online brand and increasing traffic to my web funnel. Not everyone is lucky enough to work for themselves, however. Most people work for someone else, who doesn’t always appreciate what’s being said online.
For these eight people, posting on social media led to the loss of a job.
1. Teacher Terminated Over Tweets
Carly McKinney used to be a high school math teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, CO. That was until the then-23-year-old’s Twitter account got her put on administrative leave in January 2013 and subsequently fired in March 2013.
Under the username @Crunk_Bear McKinney’s account was filled with racy NSFW photos of the young woman smoking weed, posing in risque outfits, and generally wilding out.
Not only that, but she often discussed male students as jailbait, having drugs in her car in the school parking lot, and other thoughts probably not the best things to be posting when you’re employed by the school district.
While McKinney’s posts are simply par for the course on Twitter, once the school district discovered it, she made national headlines. Pretty much everyone in the media branded her with a scarlet letter and sent her on a modern-day walk of atonement that would’ve made even Cersei Lannister grimace.
Some students jumped to her defense, arguing she did nothing wrong, but once the media feeding frenzy began, there was no saving McKinney’s teaching career.
A web search of Carly McKinney today still shows countless pages of this old news story, showing teachers don’t make enough to afford the type of reputation management services rich people hire to hide their indiscretions.
On top of this, both her real name and Crunk Bear username are still brought up as the definitive teacher-on-social-media cautionary tale.
One can only wonder what Carly McKinney is up to these days…
2. PR Exec Sacked After a Tweet
McKinney isn’t the only one who fell victim to Twitter. Justine Sacco was a successful PR executive for InterActive Corp, the owner of popular websites like CollegeHumor.com, Match.com, Dictionary.com, and Vimeo.com.
That was until December 2013, when she tweeted the now-infamous tweet about her trip to Africa.
By the time her plane landed, Sacco’s tweet had made the rounds on mainstream media and she received a voicemail from her boss letting her know she was fired.
Of course being a PR rep for such a popular company, Sacco had more connections in the media than McKinney. A web search for Justine Sacco reveals many journalists took the time to allow her to atone for her tweet. Some even went so far as to chastise the Internet for the mob mentality that cost Sacco her job.
Unlike McKinney, Sacco appears to still be doing fine in her career, as she’s been mentioned as a PR rep for Hot or Not, FanDuel, and a few other Internet sites.
Still, both the Internet and mainstream media will always mention the Africa tweet incident whenever the name Justine Sacco comes up in conversation.
3. Daycare Worker Gone After Snapchat Snaps
In February 2016, a 19-year-old daycare worker in Mesa, Arizona learned the hard way that even on Snapchat, your posts aren’t safe.
After posting several snaps on the popular site of kids under her care with sarcastic captions, a parent finally noticed and screenshotted the above pic of the woman with a middle finger held up to kids playing.
While we’d all love to shove a middle finger in a kid’s face sometimes (it’s better than hitting them), the woman was immediately confronted by her boss at Kids Play and fired.
Unlike everyone else on this list, the name of the woman wasn’t released in the media, and she was able to retain a level of anonymity. Perhaps she was given a pass for her young age.
Although she lost her job, this 19-year-old’s reputation wasn’t as thoroughly destroyed as many on this list. She was granted a second chance to move on with her life.
4. Comedian Judged Unfunny on Twitter
Gilbert Gottfried has long been known for making jokes about inappropriate situations. Back in 2001, the comedian notoriously opened a Friar’s Club roast of Hugh Hefner by joking about 9/11 only a few weeks after the tragedy happened.
Although some criticized his humor as being “too soon,” many comedians stood by Gottfried’s decision to laugh in the face of terrorism. Unfortunately for him, this lack of patience ended up costing him a job as the voice of the Aflac duck in March 2011.
While the world was grieving for the victims of an earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan (which happened the same weekend as my Bank of America document leak), Gottfried took to Twitter with a series of tweets mocking the tragedy.
Internet outrage reached the ears of Aflac insurance, who fired him the following week. Since 75% of the company’s business was in Japan, they weren’t impressed by the comedian’s sense of humor. Clearly they hired him for the voice without knowing anything about his body of work.
Still, being a celebrity, Gottfried easily recovered from the incident, and you won’t find evidence of the incident unless you know what you’re searching for, unlike everyone else on this list.
Tipping is a form of piracy…
5. Waitress Canned for Facebook Complaints
Kirsten Kelly is a single mom in Ohio who was fired from Texas Roadhouse in June 2014 after posting a complaint about a customer not tipping. Since the customer she complained about was a Facebook friend, the post was seen, printed out, and brought to the attention of the manager.
The post was deleted before the media got a hold of it, and in this particular instance, it was Kelly who contacted the media. She states the post simply said “If you come into a restaurant and spend $50 or more, you should be able to tip appropriately for that,” but the company statement is that she used derogatory names and it was obvious where she worked.
We’ll never know which version of the story is correct, but Kelly lucked out in that she shares a name with a theater director whose search results eclipse her own.
Kelly is different than many others on this list in that she instigated the media attention around her, playing herself as the victim. Everyone else was would probably have been happy to remain in obscurity. Despite that, Kelly is one of the lucky few who managed to avoid being publicly shamed for her social media rant.
6. Taco Bell Employee Fired for Twitter Prank
Anonymous is mostly in the news for taking on political groups and CEOs, but in August 2012 the group successfully identified Taco Bell employee Cameron Jankowski after he tweeted an image of himself peeing on an order of Nachos BellGrande to revenge porn enabler Hunter Moore.
It was an attempt to gain Internet fame, using a #pissolympics hashtag that Moore used to encourage his 100K+ followers to post pictures of themselves pissing in extreme places. Unfortunately public urination is punished as a felony sex offense in the U.S.
Although Moore applauded the act and encouraged more, the Anon legion soon d0xed Jankowski and got into a flame war with him until he deleted his Twitter account.
Jankowski explained he didn’t serve the nachos to anyone, but Taco Bell fired him anyway and released a statement that they would be pursuing legal action.
He stated he’ll have another job in a week and doesn’t care if he gets fired, but an Internet search of Cameron Jankowski still shows evidence of the incident to this day.
It’s unlikely Jankowski will ever get a food handler’s license again, but he was recently featured on SyFy’s “The Internet Ruined My Life” show, which documents people who have been chastised on online.
In it, it’s revealed that Jankowski was detained by the FBI and it’s actually Mountain Dew that’s shown being poured into the nachos.
It should be noted that Jankowski was also only 19 at the time he pulled the prank, but Anonymous does not forgive youthful impasses of judgment.
7. DC Political Communications Director Resigns After Facebook Posts
Elizabeth Lauten was the communications director for Republican Congressman Stephen Flincher until December 2014 when she resigned amid backlash for a Facebook rant in which she chastised President Obama’s daughters for their body language and eye-rolling during a Thanksgiving speech.
Lauten went in on the teenagers (aged 13 and 16 at the time) for their lack of class. Unfortunately for her, the DC political machine determined she had even less class after the media jumped down her throat.
While nearly everything is considered fair game in politics, attacking children is generally seen as a bad idea, though there are still politicians who do it.
Lauten quickly posted an apology, but those often fall on deaf ears in Washington, which is full of fast-talking politicos who know a fake apology when they see one.
Despite being a communications director, she has thus far been unable to bury the incident in the search results, as an Internet search for Elizabeth Lauten still shows the news stories above her own website and social media accounts.
These days Lauten markets herself as a digital and media relations specialist, even though to find her online portfolio, you have to scroll down past multiple media outlets reporting on the story.
SEO methods are constantly used by businesses and people who can afford the services to help bury bad news with good news. Having several clients in online marketing, I do quite a bit of digital marketing work myself, so I’m fully aware of her efforts.
Judging by the effectiveness of her campaign so far, it’ll be another few years before Lauten is considered hirable enough to make the kind of money she was making before the post.
8. Police Officer Fired Over Facebook Bragging
Relations between the police and citizens seems to have reached a boiling point in the U.S. over the last decade with complaints of brutality and violence on both sides.
Former Dallas Police Senior Cpl Cat Lafitte poured fuel on this fire in February 2011 when the police officer bragged on Facebook about brutalizing a Plano hospital worker. The incident almost immediately made the rounds on the Internet, and Lafitte was placed on administrative leave and later fired by the DPD.
An Internet search of Cat Lafitte shows that she attempted to fight for her pension and even wrote to popular police-brutality news site CopBlock in 2015 to help clear her name.
What also appears in the online search is a birthday photo from 2015 showing Lafitte is now a member of the Cajun Rollergirls roller derby team in Louisiana.
Although Lafitte contests that media stories printed about her were an attempt to defame her, they remain among the top search results for her name online.
Lucky for her, she was at least given an opportunity to tell her side of the story and trust in law enforcement is at an all-time low. Many of the people above weren’t given that opportunity and instead have been shamed beyond recognition.
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work appears in High Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Street, and Hardcore Droid.