BY TAYLOR EISENHOWER
The dough is kneaded. The sauce has been spread. Someone anticipates a warm, freshly made pizza from Domino’s. The online pizza tracker shows the slices moving through each stage of preparation. Now only the cheese needs to be added before the pie can be put in the oven. One dedicated employee takes the cheese and, before loading it onto the soon-to-be crispy crust, shoves it up his nose with a rebellious grin.
Fortunately for customers, the employee responsible for these highly unhygienic shenanigans, Michael, and his buddy were fired after dubiously uploading a video of this to YouTube in 2009. Unfortunately for the two North Carolina employees, they were then arrested.
The moral of the story? Don’t post stupid things on social media.
It would seem that not everyone is aware of this guideline, though, as evidenced by countless incidents since the Domino’s pizza fail. A Burger King employee in Japan posted a picture of himself sprawled across various packages of buns-and then uploaded it to Twitter account @inotayuta. Last summer, a picture of an employee licking a stack of taco shells found its way to Taco Bell’s Facebook page.
Many private companies have instituted standard policies for their employees. Luckily, the standard seems to be reasonable.
“Our policy doesn’t prevent them (employees) from using (social media), or being out there talking. The policy is to act appropriately and remember that you’re representing the agency,” said Lara Plathe, a senior public relations account manager at Strategic America in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We’re representing the company even if it’s not a company event. When we’re posting information, our names are still connected to Strategic America.”
Strategic America, an integrated marketing firm, has had a social media policy for employees in place since 2010. “We want to make sure we’re putting ourselves and our clients in a good light,” Plathe said.
Plathe has yet to see any backlash from employees. She says the staff is supportive of the social media policy.
“Strategic America’s pretty flexible in that aspect (social media). We just ask that people act responsibly,” Plathe said.
The rules over at GuideOne Insurance, also based in Des Moines, are similar.
“Generally, be responsible, exercise judgment, and be transparent,” said marketing specialist Ellen Wade. “What you write will be public for a long time, so be cognizant of that.”
If employees choose to write about GuideOne on social media, they’re supposed to state their names and the position they hold. When speaking for themselves online, employees are asked to make that clear.
“We don’t want employees to represent themselves-or GuideOne-in a false or misleading way,” Wade said.
And Wade doesn’t notice any problems among the employees.
“As an insurance company, they’re used to policies.”
In the private sector, employers have the right to enact some kind of social media policy-meaning they can essentially restrict employees’ speech.
Sophomore international business and marketing major Nancy Leone isn’t as worried about her rights within a company, however, as she is with her social media presence hindering her ability to get a foot in the door.
“I do regulate my social media,” Leone said. “Since I’m already looking for internships and many employers are looking online, having something inappropriate might be ruin the chance of getting hired.”
Wes Gay, an attorney at Allen, Norton, & Blue Professional Association in Tallahassee, Fla., said that private entities can actually restrict your rights quite a bit.
“If you work for a private company, like Google, they can (restrict your speech) because the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to Google. The First Amendment only applies to the federal and state government,” he said.
The private sector essentially flaunts the if-you-don’t-like-it-you-can-work-somewhere-else philosophy.
With public jobs, it’s a different beast. “If you work for a government entity, if you work for the state, then they cannot restrict your speech,” Gay said.