Careless girl’s Facebook faux pas a lesson for us all

Careless girl’s Facebook faux pas a lesson for us all

Before any of you post another comment on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc, I urge you to read this tale, which highlights just how dangerous not being totally switched on when you’re posting can be.

It is a storm in which I’ve been placed in the eye, and it all starts so innocuously.

Last week I was called by a children’s nursery in the East Midlands asking if I can limit the fallout of this posting, which has led to this nursery being downgraded by OFSTED, a member of staff almost losing her job, and the business inevitably losing business as a result of the fallout.

I was asked to intervene by the nursery’s law firm, with whom I’ve worked with for over two years helping raise their profile.

The main components in this tale of woe are a careless comment, a Facebook friend who became an enemy, and a politically correct modern era where the hypersensitive set the rules.

The nursery, Woodville Day Nursery, in Swadlincote, as I was told by my long existing legal client is one which has built an enviable reputation, having achieved outstanding or good OFSTED reports ever since it opened a decade ago.

However, this reputation now needs some rebuilding after the nursery worker so innocently contravened the company’s social media policy and befriended a parent.

This cyber ‘friendship’ began quite some time ago, but in the summer the man in question went to OFSTED and the local paper to announce he had withdrew his child from the nursery over an alleged racist comment by the member of staff posted on Facebook.

It is probably worth pointing out at this juncture, the father was black, the nursery had a policy where you have to give a month’s notice before withdrawing a child, and the father is now facing court action over unpaid fees.

The incident which had supposedly caused this parent so much distress is the worker at the nursery had made a Facebook entry in a debate surrounding the horrific killing of drummer Lee Rigby, about how we should tighten up immigration controls.

Now I know the comment and the whole context, but in the interests of client confidentiality have been asked to keep it under my hat. I hope those of you who don’t know me personally but have read my blogs beforehand can take it as read that it was a very mild comment. I’ve heard a lot worse on radio phone ins and a lot lot worse in the pub from those having supped a fair quantity of truth serum.

Anyhow the upshot of this yarn was due to the complaint the girl was taken to a disciplinary hearing where she was given a final written warning, despite having been an excellent employee over a long period, and OFSTED downgraded the nursery  to inadequate purely for not sacking the employee.

It has been all over the local newspaper portrayed in a sensationalist and uneven manner, and there also have been factual inaccuracies printed, all which have been a nightmare for a good employer and  hard-working employee.

It is a story which raises many debates, but the one I’m focussing on is how you need your head in gear when posting on any social media channel.

We all have opinions, but every time you write in cyberspace remember this leaves a footprint that can be traced, and as this illustrates so cataclysmically those with an agenda can twist the innocuous and cause huge trouble.

I use social media in very different ways. I engage on Facebook for connecting with those who I know, and would like to know. There are some clients on there too, but I post light hearted stuff or informative content- not content which the media could distort to make me out to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Equally I have a Twitter account for my company which I use to post relevant copy as part of my marketing. I try to put in place safeguards not showing strangers photos of me wolfing a takeaway curry on a park bowling green after a belly load of Tennents Extra in 1985.

Social Media can be great, empowering, but this cautionary tale shows it is not only celebs who can be caught out in the new media world. It is all of us and we have to be on our mettle as our reputations are on the line.

You have been warned.