How to Avoid "Weinergate" in the Workplace
First of all, I have to admit. I haven’t followed the Rep. Anthony Weiner story that closely. Upon taking a closer look (but not too close!), here’s how I understand it happened:
- A New York Congressman seemingly DM’s (that’s Twitter-speak for “direct message” that one assumes to be private) a...ahem...photo of his private parts to a young college student.
- Said Congressman inadvertently forgets to add the one single letter in a tweet that can make a direct message, well, not so direct. (In case you’re wondering it’s the letter “d”)
- Conservative blogger captures screenshot and shares.
- Congressman claims to have been hacked.
- Despite lots of other accounts reportedly having been hacked around the same time, the constituents and media don’t buy it.
- Congressman admits it’s his picture and now wants to keep his job. Let the debates begin.
However, this blog post here isn’t meant to be yet another one about Anthony Weiner and what his last name has to do with the story.
No. This post is about what to do if you encounter your own potential "Weinergate" at work.
Let’s face it, there are going to be times at work when some people can’t keep their urges in check or practice impulse control. I’m not a lawyer nor do I have formal training in human resources. However, if you find yourself facing unwanted advances, a lewd picture in your inbox, or an inappropriate image through your Twitter stream or Facebook wall, you’ll want to make sure you do a few things.
If the image or message is coming from someone you work with, report it in writing, privately to your human resources contact at your company. And if you need to, forward the offending email and/or screenshot of the tweet or Facebook update to a personal email that you control and own. You have rights at work and your company most likely has a sexual harassment policy in place, this is why.
However, when it’s someone random, you should block them immediately on all of your social networks and archive anything they sent in case, for some reason, they figure out a way to keep reaching out to you. A person who persists, in my opinion, is taking an already completely inappropriate action to a creepy, and potentially dangerous level. You’re a big girl, though, and I trust you’ll know when you should report it to police. And you’ll want to be able to show them how everything unfolded so they have enough evidence to take action.
Second, this might sound like I’m being Captain Obvious, but don’t retweet, tweet the screenshot, share it on your Facebook page, or send an email forward to all of your friends. It was completely unacceptable that the person sent you the offensive image or message in the first place. Now you’re sending it to a bunch of people that will probably find it inappropriate as well...only this time YOU’RE the messenger. Think about that one.
Finally, this begs a larger question. Does Congress have a social media policy? I think there are enough lawmakers on Twitter and with Facebook pages these days, that if they don’t, now would be the opportune time to establish one. That way, not only would our lawmakers know exactly what the guidelines are, but they would know the consequences. And there wouldn’t be a question of whether or not Congressman Anthony should resign or not. It would be in black and white.