Social media posts could leave you without a job

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 9:17 PM CDT
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What people post on social media can get them in trouble, sometimes costing their jobs.

“Social media is something you really shouldn't participate in beyond (posting) photos of your children or something like that,” is the advice of Dothan attorney John White.

Those words, perhaps not literal, turned out to be prophetic. Shortly after White completed his WTVY interview Troy University suspended its police chief for a post he made.

In that post, Chief John McCall said “more white people (than blacks) are killed by police every year. Where is the media screaming about that? People die in police custody from time to time. Did the (Minnesota) officer make a mistake? Yes. Was he intentionally trying to kill George Floyd? I don’t think so.”

McCall also said Floyd, suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, contributed to his own death.

White suggests that people think before posting. “Years ago, you might write a letter and stick it in your drawer to mail the following day. The next morning, you might read that letter again, then tear it up. Social media, though, is instant.”

Take Tim Gillespie, who White represents. Though claiming he never intended his Facebook posts to be viewed as racial motivated, Gillespie is on the verge of losing his job as a Dothan High School teacher and coach.

Those posts, after riots broke out last week, brought a swell of criticism.

White believes people could often use the same words in a traditional conversation without creating a stir.

“When talking directly to people, we have inflections in our voices that might give clarity to what we really mean but, with social media, there is no inflection.”

Another post casualty is Grant Napear, until Wednesday the play-by-play voice of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

Former King's player DeMarcus Cousins, on Twitter, asked Napear for his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. Napear responded "All Lives Matter...Every Single One!"

For that, Napear has lost the job he had held since 1988.

White, a former police chief, points out that some are held to a higher standard in regard to their posts. Public figures, entertainers, journalists, religious leaders, and police officers are among those.

He vividly remembers the early 1990's in Los Angeles, where police were among the first to have computers installed in their patrol cars.

After being dispatched to a call in a predominately black neighborhood, a supervisor sent a message to other officers that some found racially insensitive.

That officer lost his job.

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