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Larry Johnson Should Think Before He Tweets

By Minara El-Rahman on October 29, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There is another example today of why you should "think before you tweet". Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs is the latest casualty of Twitter backlash. He is in hot water over a series of tweets on his Twitter account where he bashes his head coach Todd Haley and also lashes out at a fellow Twitter user that goes by the user name of @jaredlaunius.

Mashable The Social Media Guide outlines what was tweeted by the NFL player. The comments sparked an exchange between Johnson and Twitter user @jaredlaunius, with the latter bringing up a nightclub incident that Johnson plead guilty to, and Johnson, in turn, responding with a very clear homophobic slur. Johnson calls @jaredlaunius a "Christopher Street boy" and his avatar a "fag pic".

The NFL has suspended Johnson for his tweets. That suspension will cost Johnson a good deal of money. According to ESPN, that would amount to a penalty of about $600,000 for the former two-time Pro Bowl player. 

Johnson serves as an example of how easy it is to get in to career trouble using Twitter. By using social media, it is becoming easier and easier for your boss to see potentially career damaging things. We have seen how quickly Twitter has affected public figures: Courtney Love, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, and the writer Alice Hoffman. It is scary to think how easily normal people can become affected.

Larry Johnson was protected more than normal people because he is part of a collective bargaining agreement. Most normal people are at-will employees.

Twitter is so dangerous for employees because it's basic bare minimum structure allows users to get straight to the point: "It's the same reason why schoolyard fights don't start out with, 'I have a real problem with the way you said something so let's discuss it,' " said Josh Bernoff, a researcher and an author of "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies." 'You get right to the punch in the nose. Twitter doesn't allow room for reflection. It gets people to the barest emotion.'"

How do you prevent yourself from becoming a career casualty because of sites like Twitter? Be cautious about what you post online. If you are confused about what you should or should not post, remember that at-will employees can be fired for just about anything, outside of very limited exceptions listed here.

If your post falls under one of these categories, then you are safe. However, with all of this Twitter backlash, it is better to be safe than sorry.

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