A Perfect Example of Why You Should Mind Your Tweets

Though Japan is in the midst of its worst ever natural disaster which has rendered thousands dead and millions homeless, but that hasn’t deterred some people such as Gilbert Gottfried from cracking mindless jokes over this tragedy. Subsequent to his tweets, Gilbert Gottfried was shown the door by Aflac and he’s since tweeted his apology over the matter as well.

While some people have shown sympathy towards Mr. Gottfried, I personally believe he thoroughly deserves this punishment. I’ve always maintained that you need to maintain your dignity in the social media world and respect others. Unfortunately, Mr. Gottfried didn’t bother to be sensitive enough to others feelings and he’s the latest casualty in the increasingly long list of people fired over tweets.

Mind Your Tweets

To be honest, I have zero tolerance for people who write inappropriate tweets – whether they are bad jokes, public insult, abusive language or even random ramblings without any rhyme or reason. In recent times, a large number of people have even lost their jobs after poorly-thought-out tweets and insensible Facebook updates.

Gottfried’s firing should send the message loud and clear – learn to behave and mind your tweets or else be prepared to face the wrath. Some people believe his intention was not to offend, to inflame, or to express hatred and he was merely trying to use humor as a means of coping with tragedy. I think Gottfried got his tone and there by his intent horribly wrong with his tweets. I’m glad he realized it himself and subsequently apologized.

How do businesses control what their employees tweet?

I believe that business organizations should lay out clear guidelines about what’s acceptable and what’s not. While some would radically oppose this idea as it prohibits the freedom of speed (freedom of tweet) in this case, I think it’s high time that a line should be drawn.

Businesses must come up with a clear strategy of how to keep their employees from putting their cyber feet in their virtual mouths or else I don’t see an end to such non-sense any time soon.

Social Media Policy

I’ve often emphasized the importance of having a well documented social media policy in place for businesses. Such policies should clearly regulate what employees can talk about the company on social media, should provide a concrete plan for training employees to understand defamation, privacy, and intellectual property.

Be sensitive to other

In my opinion, the most disturbing aspect of Gottfried episode is the insensitive attitude towards Japan’s earthquake victims. With all due respect, I don’t understand how Mr. Gottfried was trying to lend a helping hand with his comic material after the devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

To be honest, I’m not much of a fan of Gottfried. In fact, I don’t know much about him. Though I don’t know much about the millions of Japanese affected by the tragedy either, I, for one, am trying my level best to help them cope up with this devastating tragedy. What about you you? Here are five ways you can help Japan in this difficult time.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

Join the Conversation


  1. research papers       Reply

    good article and everything that yu said in it is the truth. i think that we should be very careful with all these new things and social networks. in them we make our private life more public and sometimes we don’t think of the consequences and they can be really unpleasant… private things shoud stay private and we should be careful and mind our tweets

  2. Juan Felix       Reply

    Hi Douglas. Good point to consider social behavior. This is how I feel and think about this:

    You can create rules to prevent or punish undesired behavior. This does not grab the source of undesired behavior. It starts with a social attitude, sensitivity and being able to show empathy in the other. If someone shows no respect for others, you do not solve this with rules. If you draw lines, probably disrespectful behavior will be less visible. But undesired attitudes of individuals will not disappear. You can teach children social behavior, but that is no guarantee that they -as adults- have the competence to deal with their individual freedom in an appropriate way. IMO, rules are not a fundamental solution for undesired social behavior.

  3. Gareth       Reply

    Having just done .75 minute’s worth of research into this, yes, I’m kinda glad this guy got the boot.

    In _this_ case.

    I’d have to take issue with your points on social media policy for businesses, though. There seems to be a trend towards businesses assuming editorial control over their employee’s _personal_ social media use, and backing it up with threat of dismissal (where labour laws permit, at least). This is worrying for many reasons, but the main issue is freedom of speech.

    Accepting a job does not mean that you should have to hand in your right to say what you want at the door. On a corporate account, yes, there should be guidelines. On your personal time and personal account, though: it’s your business and not your employer’s. It’s the company’s responsibility to state that ‘we don’t take responsibility for what our employees say on their own time – argue with them, not us’. It’s _not_ the employee’s responsibility to moderate what they say and do out of fear of sudden unemployment.

    This is not to say that I don’t think there should be consequences for this sort of behaviour, but, by and large, such consequences tend to happen naturally. Habitually obstreperous or offensive social media users tend to get marginalised and ignored by the user community, at least after an initial period of OMG-gasp-outrage (which is, admittedly, what they often crave anyway). I’m not saying that freedom of speech is freedom from consequences, I’m just saying that for your average bloke, those consequences should not include losing your job.


    1. Kellmoo       Reply


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  5. Manal Assaad       Reply

    Some people are just unbelievable. I don’t think that a social media policy imposed by firms can do much about some people being insensitive. Rules can’t teach rude people sensitivity, they’ll just find creative ways to be insensitive & still seemingly abide by the policy. This takes self-discipline that firms can’t take place in… But as you said, people should mind their tweets. I totally support the decision to fire him… In fact, he should also be fired from the society. There’s a line between being empathetic & flaunting it online!

  6. Valerie       Reply

    Sometimes people are so insentive to other people’s problems and feelings. We all have to live on this earth together and if we can learn to live together perhaps we can learn to RESPECT each other.

  7. Gabriele Maidecchi       Reply

    There really isn’t a clear pre-emptive approach you can take for these matters, other than making sure you assign the right powers to the right people.
    I think that, as manager of your company’s social media activities, the person in charge should realize in advance wether he can trust employees or not with SM tasks. Making them part of the policy itself, giving their contribution to it and making the SM team a cohesive one are all good things to do, but alone they won’t prevent problems like the ones we saw many many times.

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  9. Anonymous       Reply

    I actually don’t agree with firing Gottfried, and these recent knee-jerk social media firings have me worried. Gottfried broadcast an insensitive joke to the public. If he’d told that joke during a stand-up routine should he have been fired? I suspect not, but saying it on Twitter is somehow worse. Something about this disturbs me.

    Gottfried is an insensitive, abrasive comic (he cracked a joke about the twin tower attacks to a New York audience only a few weeks after the event, it didn’t go well there either). I more or less expect him to say the wrong thing.

    And maybe that’s the problem I have with this….no one is ‘allowed’ to say the wrong thing on social media. No one is allowed to offend anyone without being castigated, shamed, humiliated and fired. We’re seeing personal pogroms created because somebody said something stupid.

    I wish I could articulate this more intelligently: but something tells me that people should be allowed to say stupid things. We need stupid remarks and stupid art and stupid ideas to help society identify the boundaries of right and wrong.

    My feelings aren’t about free speech, I’m no libertarian. But we’re jumping all over each other to the extent that we’re going to submerge these outlying statements and then — I fear — normalize social media to the extent that we’re not ‘allowed’ to even admit we’re lonely, depressed, anxious or whatever, without getting fired.

    And frankly, Gottfried’s comment was not hateful, it was tasteless. If we fired people for being tasteless half the population would be out of work.

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