Social Media platforms have opened a world of possibilities for users, whether experienced or not, to share their thoughts and interact with the world. For many millennials, it has a charm that is simply impossible to resist. And the advent of social media apps on mobile phones has brought the world within reach of our fingertips.
With all the different aspects of freedom of speech and expression that social media offers, some users have come at odds with the law or their employers for posting seemingly inappropriate comments. Posts from the individual accounts of users are now more likely to be scrutinised by employers or prospective employers as it offers a rich resource in analysing the personalities of individuals. A gentleman recently told how shocked he was when his prospective employers requested all social media accounts that were in his name. For those who are already employed, other users could bring to the attention of employers any comments that appear to be in bad taste.
Munroe Bergdorf the 29-year-old transgender model of cosmetics giant L’Oréal recently got the sack after she was reported to have expressed what was deemed to be outrageous racial opinions on Facebook. The model, one of five other models of colour, who had been unveiled as “the face of modern diversity” for the company’s “Yours Truly True Match” campaign, reportedly wrote: Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes, ALL white people.
“Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour.
“Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggression to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***.
“Come see me when you realise that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.
“Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.
Since Munroe was sacked by L’Oréal for expressing these opinions on Facebook, two other models of colour have quit the campaign in protest of her treatment.
In another development relating to posts on Facebook, an aristocrat and British peer Rhodri Philipps, 4th Viscount of St Davids, was recently jailed for 12 weeks after being found guilty of two charges of sending menacing message by public communication. The aristocrat had offered £ 5000 for the first person to ‘accidentally’ run over Brexit campaigner Gina Miller whom he calls ‘this bloody troublesome first-generation immigrant’.Gina Miller had filed a legal suit challenging the British government over its authority to implement Brexit without approval from Parliament and had been successful.
Whether rightly or wrongly, human society is largely founded on norms with a slant towards political correctness. Social media has become common, but if there is one thing that is obvious, it is the fact that the norms and laws of our societies have become sensitive to any forms of expression that could be interpreted as abuse on social media. That doesn’t mean that we cannot express our views on social media, but that there may be consequence for the statements we post on social media.
The statements of former L’Oréal model Munroe Bergdorf may have been taking out of context especially since they were a response to the occurrences at Charlottesville in the US. Rhodri Philipps, the aristocrat, said his post about Gina Miller on Facebook was a joke. We could at least give him the benefit of doubt. However, employers and the institutions responsible for bringing about some equity in society are under pressure to make example of individuals who appear to hurt public sensibilities. This should make all users of social media more responsible in their posts.