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Hey you. Yea you. Did you tweet “wild” today?

Twitter is defined by many as a social networking tool used to connect with friends and strangers on news, entertainment, activism, jokes, ideas etc. Twitter Inc’s core value is, “We believe in free expression and think every voice has the power to impact the world.” Harmless isn’t it?

Or is it?

Many choose Twitter as their go-to network to be completely themselves, no filter (unlike IG…I digress). From venting about personal struggles to taking sides of their favourite celebrities to intense sports conversations to activism to making memes about all the above, Twitter is where the party is at.

Most users created a Twitter account in their teenage years when their careers did not take off yet. In recent times, either for honest or vengeful reasons, persons are dredging up old, “questionable” tweets of persons in the prime of their careers. Questionable is in quotation marks here friends because let’s face it, it is based on the judgment of some.

We all have different opinions. For instance, a tweet may be non-oppressive but offends someone due to raunchiness or political affiliation. A person’s capacity in their career is not directly related to their tweet content. However, what if your employer is a prude or staunchly affiliated with a political party? (Hold this thought).

Do you have a personal thought process when you are about to Tweet? Do you believe your tweets can have an impact on your career? Or do you firmly believe that your freedom of speech and expression is important above all else and employers should mind their funky business outside of their work? (cue Funky Business x Fimba…if you are clueless, I suggest you listen before you continue, many thanks).

WI Kulcha conducted a survey with a couple Twitter users who recently commenced and/or are in the prime of their respective careers (ages ranging from 24 to 33) to see just what they were thinking. Here are the findings:

81.8% of the group use Twitter daily, however, 45.5% of the group made the conscious decision to not only change the content of their tweets but also delete past tweets since they secured their current role. Although it is known that some employers peruse potential hires’ social media content before making a final decision, many have not expressed their intention to continue perusal after the job is secured unless something grave is brought to their attention by an unrelated source.

One of the interviewees confirmed that their employer does indeed monitor their employees’ social media content and was the reason his Twitter account was made private for the vast majority of his job. However, in this age of technology and quickness, a private Twitter account may slow the pace of sharing but from yo’ baby to yo’ mama, everybody knows that screenshotting is the new wave.

For many of those persons who have not bothered to change the content of their tweets, they commonly expressed that they are aware that their employer might be slightly perturbed by some of their Twitter content but firmly believe that they are not misrepresenting the company.

The interviewees expressed that they can understand oppressive and violent tweets qualifying as a cause for dismissal but most of their tweets are pretty much just raunchy and/or includes obscenities. The contracts that some persons signed do have a clause about dismissal based on misrepresentation of the company/institution, but the clause does not stipulate what qualifies as a misrepresentation.

Therefore, it is left to the discretion someone (un-hold the thought from above here). A misrepresentation in one workplace might be a shoulder shrug in another or simply, one boss is “cooler” than another. What if grounds for your dismissal cannot be justified but you are treated unfairly in the workplace because your superior saw and judged your tweets as inappropriate? As one interviewee stated, “I think there is a fine line between free speech and being a professional. You should be able to say what you want but freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.”

Another angle to look at it is with respect to job type. All interviewees agreed that one should be careful about what they tweet however most interviewees were defending Twitter use as their safe space to express themselves and it has no connection to how well their job is carried out. However, amid the unfairness, some employees took the prevention is better than cure route and have maintained it.

This survey included only persons in corporate careers. However, for others, being raunchy and sometimes even controversial helps boost their careers. For example, entertainers. Would you love some celebrities the same if wasn’t for their spicy remarks and sexual aura? When a dancehall song comes on, can you contain your excitement to belt out the raunchiest lyrics word for word? When you hear soca isn’t your first instinct to gyrate to the rhythm?

There is a time and place… and job… for everything. However, let’s reflect. Outside of the corporate world, is the micromanagement necessary? Do you agree or disagree that the corporate world might be creating a misplaced identity for many?

Do you believe that expressions on Twitter and ability to carry out respective jobs are mutually exclusive? What if the best opportunities pass you by because of your tweets? Should organisations put more effort into developing a standard of stipulated misrepresentations to be used across the board to minimize bias?

Let us know your thoughts future leaders!

(Many thanks to those who participated in the survey. I wish you, superstars, all the best in your respective careers.)  

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