Everyone’s heard of the curious case of Justine Sacco. The communications professional who was apparently born without an internal filter. The woman who tweeted what has been called, “The Worst Tweet Of All Time“. I’m not sure if it was the worst of all time, but it is likely in the top 10.
It really was the perfect storm of internet rage. The tweet went out just before Sacco went wheels-up on a long Christmas flight to Africa. The rage was immediate, but since she was at 45,000 feet enjoying packaged cookies, limited legroom, and carefully screened movies and television, she did not have the opportunity to respond. She didn’t have the opportunity to re-think her tweet, and delete it. She didn’t have the opportunity to apologize for her apparent lapse in sanity.
The fallout was predictable. The longer she didn’t respond, the angrier the hive mind of the internet became. In one thoughtfully written article, the folks at Buzzfeed were accused of fanning the flames even further, even dumping gas on said flames. The pitchfork squads formed in dark corners of the internet, and they marched on Sacco’s employer, typing as fast as they could, hashtagged placards waving wildly.
Poor Justine Sacco got off the plane 12 hours later, and did something she probably still regrets. She turned on her phone. She discovered that she was the most hated woman in the world, and that her employer had publicly fired her while she was on her fifth episode of “Big Bang Theory”.
Sacco made a very bad decision, and paid a large price. However, the mob mentality that formed around this incident is really the scary part of the story. The fact that her employer knee-jerked, succumbed to the mob, and canned her without discussion, is a sad comment indeed.
The Sacco case has been dissected ad nauseum since Christmas. Analysis is plentiful. Social media tips about personal branding have flourished.
I have but one question: Do you think Justine Sacco would still have her job if her twitter bio had included a disclaimer reminding everyone that “tweets are my own!”, or “views do not reflect those of my employer!”.
Of course she wouldn’t. Her life would still be in ruins.
Your views absolutely do reflect on your employer, disclaimer or no.
People who still put these useless disclaimers in social media profiles thinking it gives them some sort of license are, to put it mildly, fooling themselves. These disclaimers have no legal force, look silly, and are, most importantly, wrong. Social media disclaimers are the present-day equivalent of the old Facebook “post this status to protect your privacy” chain letters.
Your views, your actions, your tweets, all reflect on people, brands, and companies that choose to be associated with you. Or hire you. Justine Sacco learned that in the worst way possible.