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Is It Safe to Like That Post?

Social media can be addictive. We're all guilty of stumbling into a social media haze every once in a while. You think you'll just check out your cousin's photos from her graduation and ending up in a political debate with you best friend from high school's ex's brother-in-law whom you've never met. But what happens when HR finds your political rant? And could social media postings really cause you to lose your job? 

Though not entirely definitive, the answer seems to be yes. 


Since it's infancy, there has been a debate between social media use and the first amendment, guaranteeing your right to freedom of speech. But you're not guaranteed the right to a job. What might seem like a platform to air your grievances about your boss could end up being a court case. 

With such cases as New York v. Waters and Shepherd v. McGee making headlines for their connection to social media postings, it's important to keep your social media accounts clean and professional to keep you out of trouble. 

That isn't to say you can no longer use Facebook or Instagram if you want to be employed. Rather, it's more about learning to maintain an appropriate social presence — especially if you work in law enforcement or for a government office. 


These days most companies have a Code of Conduct that includes social media postings and reminders to think of the impact your posts have on your own image as well as your agency's. Because we are so connected, any negative thing you say online will live forever — and could mar your personal and professional standing. 

We spoke with Cass County Sheriff's Department's Academy Director Craig McMein to get a few tips for law enforcement and government employees in regards to maintaining appropriate social media accounts. 

"Limit who you're friends with," McMein said, suggesting that only "family [and] maybe coworkers are acceptable...[the] people in your inner circle."

Along with limiting friends to those you actually know in real life, upping your privacy settings can make all the difference. 

"Limit who may see things," McMein said, "just so that [your] inner circle...has access and the general population does not."


And if you're not yet employed, don't think your social media doesn't matter. "Your social media profile can be used in the hiring process," McMein said. 

This so-called cyber-vetting is becoming more and more common as part of the hiring process, with everything from your Twitter to your Snapchat taken into consideration when you apply for a job. Companies are looking for people who will represent them in and out of the office, and posting those intoxicated selfies might outweigh the fact that you're a Tableau expert. 

Ultimately, it comes down to thinking before posting. Would you want your mom to see that photo? Is the comment  you're about to make going to offend an entire religion? Best to avoid it. After all, better safe than sorry isn't said for nothing.  

Related content:

A Guide to Professional Communication

A Guide to Professional Communication...Continued

What Can You Do With a Degree in Criminal Justice?

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