Feeds

Yes, you can be sacked for making dodgy Facebook posts

Employers aren't invading your privacy by reading them

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Ignorance about Facebook privacy settings is no excuse for complaining about the consequences of publishing off-colour online comments, a US judge has ruled.

Robert J Sumien, an emergency medical technician in Texas, wrote a Facebook wall post about giving "boot to the head" to unruly patients. The comment came to the attention of his employers, CareFlite, an ambulance service and medical transportation firm, who showed him the door.

Sumien sued for privacy invasion and wrongful termination of his employment contract. He claimed that his employer invaded his privacy because he misunderstood a coworker's Facebook settings and didn't realise comments he made on a colleague's wall would be seen by others inside and outside the hospital.

The comment that resulted in Sumien getting the sack came after his ambulance partner, Jan Roberts, posted a comment on the Facebook wall of CareFlite worker Scott Schoenhardt, suggesting she wanted to slap a patient she had recently transported. This started a discussion about what to do with unruly patients, prompting Sumien's comments.

Both Roberts and Sumien were reported over the comments and both were fired. Sumien sued but a court rejected claims that he had any expectation of privacy about comments posted on a Facebook wall.

A trial judge rejected Sumien's claims that he intended the comments only to be seen by his close friends and threw out his unlawful dismissal claim, a decision recently upheld by a Texas appeal court (ruling, extract below).

http://www.2ndcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/pdfOpinion.asp?OpinionID=23493

Sumien contends that CareFlite intruded upon his seclusion because he did not realize that Roberts’s Facebook “friends” could view the comment that he posted on Roberts’s “wall”. While Sumien presented evidence showing that he misunderstood Roberts’s Facebook settings, did not know who had access to Roberts’s “wall”, and did not know how CareFlite was able to view his comment, he did not present any evidence to show that his misunderstanding meant that CareFlite intentionally intruded upon his seclusion.

Sumien's comments sound much more like an off-colour rant that a genuine threat, so he can consider himself unfortunate.

Nonetheless his fate serves as a lesson for the rest of us: comments on social networking sites can cost you your job. And locking down your own Facebook settings by itself might not be enough, writes Lisa Vaas on Facebook's Naked Security blog.

"Even if you've set Facebook privacy to only show your posts to friends, bear in mind that when you comment on other people's posts, your words are subject to those friends' privacy settings," she said.

Legal commentary on the case can be found in a blog post by Eric Goldman, an associate professor at the Santa Clara University of Law, here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
Canadian taxman says hundreds pierced by Heartbleed SSL skewer
900 social insurance numbers nicked, says revenue watchman
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.