Nov. 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM ET
Sometimes, oversharing on Facebook can lead to some serious consequences — like getting fired.
UK bank worker Kate Furlong found out firsthand after bragging about the severance check she was going to get for being laid off.
Lessons to be learned here, perhaps: Think before you write anything on Facebook. Don't post on Facebook expecting it to be to "a chat with my mates outside of work." Companies expecting CIA-level lockdowns on information might have to either become more vigilant, accept the social network's role as a place for private venting, or make business policies very clear on what they expect workers to do or not to do on social networking sites. The lines between private and business blur constantly and it's not going to get any less complicated.
Furlong, 23, is the latest victim, although it could be argued she should have known better.
She'd worked at the bank for three-and-a-half years, according to the Daily Mail, and made about $28,000 a year. So, for her, staying at the job until 2012 would have ensured a $9,300 severance check, and it would have been a windfall. When the debt officer's employer, the Royal Bank of Scotland, announced September 2 plans to cut 3,500 jobs, she received a call from her manager that day that she was one of those 3,500, unless she wanted to relocate 26 miles to another office.
She had called in sick that day, but the news seemed to lift her spirits, rather than make her feel worse.
The UK Parents Lounge, which gave a bevy of examples of other jobs lost because of Facebook indiscretions, posted what she then put on Facebook as a status update:
"I speak for myself when I say WoOOOOooooOooooHOoooOooOoo' it was pretty damn obvious something like this was coming. I'm neither stupid nor naive ... and quite honestly it is the best news ever as far as I am concerned!''
She was unstoppable after that with more comments:
"They will give us the option to take early retirement (for those eligible obviously), transfer to Birmingham and if so, the possibility of a travel allowance, or redundancies. Either way, SCORE!!!."
And here's what probably sealed her fate:
"I’ve just hung on by my fingertips to stick around long enough for a nice payout when they could’ve had me out long ago without a penny! More fool them! Haha! Xx."
These comments caught the eye of a tattle-taling colleague who snitched on her to her boss, who suspended Furlong when she returned September 13. While she was "sacked" (love the Brit-speak!) in October, Furlong announced her counter-move Friday.
In the UK, workers who feel unfairly treated by their employers can take them to an employment tribunal, which is what Furlong told the Daily Mail she's going to do. She told them, "The information was already out there and all I was doing was having a chat with mates. I don’t feel I should have been sacked. They got rid of me so they didn’t have to pay any redundancy."
Others in our country have also felt the wrath of Facebook backlash.
In August, a Massachusetts high school teacher was forced to resign after posting some derogatory comments about her students, reported ABC News.
In May, a Charlotte waitress lost her job after complaining about a cheap tip, according to the Charlotte Observer.
And last year, a stadium worker lost his job of six-plus years with the Philadelphia Eagles for posting on Facebook about a player being let go, reported ESPN. Yes, this was the same team that gave a dogfighting former convict — albeit an incredibly gifted athlete — a two-year contract worth almost $10 million.
So if you're on Facebook, even with privacy settings, just assume you're being watched.