Professor Suspended After Joke About Killing Students on Facebook

Workers have been getting in trouble often over their online vents on social networking sites like Facebook. Not only do employers want to control their online image as closely as they can, but they are also vulnerable, like anybody else, to hurt pride.

The list of Facebook faux-pas just grew longer.

Gloria Gadsden, a sociology professor at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, says she was suspended last week after updating her Facebook status with complaints about work that alluded to violence.

In January, she wrote: "Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete hitman? Yes, it's been that kind of day…" Then in February: "had a good day today. DIDN'T want to kill even one student. :-). Now Friday was a different story."

Gadsden says she posted the comments in jest, on a profile she thought could only be seen by friends and family. She says officials were notified of the posts by a student -- even though she says she had no students in her "friend" list.

Just a Bad Day

"I was just having a bad day, and I was venting to family and friends," says Gadsden, who says she didn't realize her comments could be read by the public after Facebook relaxed its privacy standards in December. "My friends and family knew I was being facetious. They knew I wasn't targeting anyone."

Nevertheless, university officials were unhappy about the allusions to violence in the posts, she says, and in a meeting with her even mentioned the recent shooting spree by a disgruntled biologist at the University Alabama-Huntsville.

"Given the climate of security concerns in academia, the university has an obligation to take all threats seriously and act accordingly," Marilyn Wells, ESU's interim provost and vice president for academic affairs told The Chronicle of Education last week. Wells and other university officials did not return calls from ABC News seeking comment.

Boss' Hurt Pride

Workers have been getting in trouble often over their online vents. Not only do employers want to control their online image as closely as they can, but they are also vulnerable, like anybody else, to hurt pride.

"When you badmouth your boss and the boss is hearing, whether you're doing it online or at the coffee maker, the boss isn't going to be happy," says Jonathan Ezor, assistant professor of Law and Technology at Touro Law Center in Huntington, N.Y. "The fact that it's online makes it more easily findable and have a broader potential impact."

Obscenities Draw Attention

The comments that provoke employers into action usually contain obscenities or exaggerations that could hurt relations with customers.

Last year, for example, Dan Leone, a stadium worker for the Philadelphia Eagles, was fired after he reacted with an online obscenity to news that one of the Eagles' star players was leaving to join the Denver Broncos.

"Dan is [deleted] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. Dam Eagles R Retarted," was the comment that cost Leone his job.

Although he later apologized and tried to get his job back, his employer wouldn't budge.

''If you know your boss is online, or anyone close to your boss is online, don't be making comments that can be detrimental to your employment,'' Leone told The New York Times after the incident.

Virgin Workers Fired

In the U.K., Virgin Atlantic Airlines fired 13 cabin crew members after they made fun of passengers in their postings and quipped about defective engines.

The discount airline, owned by Sir Richard Branson, told The Guardian at the time that the postings were "totally inappropriate" and "brought the company into disrepute."

Social media mavens can even get in trouble before they've been hired. Remember the case of the Cisco fatty that went viral last year?

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...