new article – ‘How a Facebook Update Can Cost You Your Job’: News Coverage of Employment Terminations Following Social Media Disclosures, From Racist Cops to Queer Teachers

New article out today from my DECRA project in Social Media + Society, an open access journal:

“How a Facebook Update Can Cost You Your Job”: News Coverage of Employment Terminations Following Social Media Disclosures, From Racist Cops to Queer Teachers
by Brady Robards and Darren Graf (Monash University)

https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051221077022

Abstract:

Social media posts and profiles have become a key part of hiring and firing processes, producing a “hidden curriculum of surveillance.” When hiring, employers routinely engage in “cybervetting” job candidates, making judgments based on their social media presence (or absence), and so too can social media disclosures impact (positively and negatively) employment progression and even result in termination. Where is the line between personal social media use and professional identities? What is the difference between holding people in positions of power to account and invading the privacy of everyday people? What kinds of social media posts get people fired? In this article, we report on a study of 312 news media articles that document stories of people being fired because of a social media post. We divide the corpus into posts made by the individuals who are fired (“self-posts,” n = 264) and posts made by others that resulted in the subject of those posts losing their job (“third party,” n = 48). Racism was the most common reason people were fired in these news stories, followed by other forms of discriminatory behavior (such as queerphobia), offensive content, workplace conflict, political content, acts of violence, and abuse. We examine these narratives through the lens of what van Dijck describes as “professional value,” and ultimately seek to question how these stories normalize the “hidden curriculum of surveillance,” putting additional pressure on employees and young people who are called to act on social media through the prism of future employment.