Tweeting your firing: The rise of announcing your professional demise

Andrew Mason, former CEO of Groupon, speaks during the Digital Life Design conference on Jan. 23, 2012 in Munich, Germany. Mason tweeted to his employees about his firing.

Just as Groupon pioneered the daily-deal craze, the tweet by Groupon founder Andrew Mason that “I’ve been fired” has started another trend.

Local TV news anchorman A.J. Clemente this week became the latest ex-employee to announce his departure on Twitter. He had a very bad first day at KFYR in North Dakota. He swore (and not just a little) on the air, unaware his microphone was live.

Clemente’s sad, but unsurprising, tweets summed it up: “That couldn’t have gone any worse!” and, “Unfortunately KFYRTV has decided to let me go. Thank you to them and everyone in ND for the opportunity and everyone for the support.”

Earlier this month, Matthew Keys tweeted that he’d gotten the boot as deputy social media editor at Reuters after being indicted for allegedly giving hackers access to the Los Angeles Times.

And it turns out that if you search “I just got fired,” you’ll get an endless scroll of tweets. Some of which are gold.

All of this brings up the question: Is tweeting your termination really a good idea?

On one hand, it might make you feel better.

“In the moment of being fired, people immediately go to the emotional place of wanting to know they’re okay,” says Dr. Brandon Smith, aka “The Workplace Therapist” and professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

“That’s why Twitter and Facebook are so tempting,” he says. “People are looking for a bunch of likes and to hear, ‘It’s okay this happened to me last week,’ or, ‘You’re great, you’ll get through this.’ They’re looking for the encouragement, that emotional bump.”

Six months later, though, it could make you feel a lot not better.

“You’re publishing something in perpetuity, and people lose sight of that,” Smith says.

Sara Grant, who teaches at Baruch College and New York University, says the problem with “our over-sharing culture is that it is easy to be disrespectful to others. In this case, the risk is saying something against the previous employer.”

Any announcement that badmouths a former employer won’t go over well with potential new employers. Saying you don’t know why you were just fired doesn’t make you look good either. Nor, really, does getting fired at all.

“I would absolutely encourage people not to post anything on Facebook or Twitter that might hurt them later,” says Emory’s Smith.

But he adds that tweeting your firing can be acceptable if done graciously, as in, “Today I was let go. I want to thank the people of X company and I really want to wish them the best of luck. I’m looking for new opportunities.”

If you were unfairly fired, can’t you use social media to mount a defense?

“Not in 120 characters,” Smith says. “Twitter’s really not a good forum for richness of dialogue. Announcing you’ve been let go, anything controversial -- Twitter’s not the right forum for that.”

If you must spill the beans, tweet a link to a full statement or press release, like former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason did. And Smith says always have someone review a controversial post.

Twitter and Facebook are forever, after all.

This is how to tweet you were fired:

This is probably not how to tweet you were fired:


About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

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