Twitter = Career Killer?

Tone matters. So does discretion.

Until his Twitter adventures under the handle @NatSecWonk ended his career this week, Jofi Joseph embodied all the elements of a Washington cliché, down to the security card around his neck. His degree in foreign service was earned at Georgetown, which propelled him to his first job as an analyst in the Congressional Budget Office, the ultimately anonymous D.C. gig.


17 thoughts on “Twitter = Career Killer?

  1. simonliuu says:

    From a political perspective, it was suicide for him to make such caustic comments on a very public domain. Relations are the name of the game and making fun of people is by no means a way to build them. Even under an anonymous handle, Mr. Joseph’s comments jeopardized his political relationships as well as those of everyone he works with, including his boss’, and even his wife’s.

    Personally, I think that his tweets are pretty funny. But, if I owned a business and I found out that one of my employees was insulting my clients or colleagues on Twitter, I’d probably have to fire them too. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to defend my employee if any of them found out that the tweets were from people I employed.

    As the saying goes, “It’s an ill bird that fouls its own nest.”

  2. kmdavis2 says:

    I think this is just yet another classic example of the power of being ‘anonymous.’ I just received an email from the Washington Post indicating that anonymous comments will no longer be accepted and I was grateful! People hiding behind anonymity think they are invincible- it’s like a drug which tricks them into thinking they’re above everyone. Hiding behind a username seems like you can say anything because this is your “internet self,” not your actual self.

    The power of anonymity leads to thinking there are no restraints and focusing on self-aggrandizement. It is also important to note, obviously, that he got caught. In today’s day, you are never truly anonymous even if you want to be.

  3. jmmorgan242 says:

    From what I gather, this man was good at his job, intelligent, qualified, and didn’t leak any classified information. He didn’t say anything that anyone else wouldn’t have said to their friends or commiserating coworkers about the people they work with. He just chose the wrong forum in which to vent his frustrations/true opinions of his coworkers and happens to have coworkers who are very high profile. Honestly, the only thing I see wrong with this situation is that he was fired for being a sarcastic jerk. If he had leaked sensitive information rather than comments on the personalities of his coworkers, I would understand the outrage, but it seems like some powerful people just got their feelings hurt. Why doesn’t the first amendment apply to government employees? Unless he signed a statement that he would never discuss any office matters outside the office, I don’t understand why this is such a big deal. I don’t think that letting the world know that some people in the upper echelons of policy making are idiots is news to anyone.

  4. heartleeharman says:

    It’s so interesting that a public forum that can be used for many good reasons can also destroy careers. Most politicians use Twitter all the time and it can actually help them with their campaigns. There is obviously a time and place for everything, but I do think firing him was an extreme response. He was using an anonymous account, nothing he said (from what I could tell) was directly related to his job or the White House. It is interesting to see what a huge deal this is to some people, but for me, I think it has been blown out of proportion.

  5. clintkunz says:

    It seems like firing him serves as a public display that those people involved in national security work should act according to their responsibilities in all situations. I somewhat agree with the decision to fire him. I think that he acted under an anonymous name and promoted the flaws of others with political intentions, and not just to blow-off office steam. People in his line of work would not consistently jeopardize their career by tweeting low-level jokes, unless they had political motives.

  6. taylorking2 says:

    It seems like if you want a job in the private sector, you have no choice but to not post anything ever on any social media site. I don’t think it is particularly fair to fire Mr. Joseph because of his malicious tweets, furthermore it would be outrageous if they fired him without giving him any sort of feedback. That being said, he should not have tweeted some of the things that he did. In this day and age a great deal of information can be given to a great deal of people in a matter of seconds using a tweet, and I think that is why he was fired. One cannot work with the SFRC and then turn around and tweet about what is going on at work. A precedent has to be set, and unfortunately it was set with Mr. Joseph. It is just unfortunate that a promising White House administrator to be had to lose his potential success as a result. I wonder what kinds of things he has tweeted since being fired. I would be willing to bet that what others thought were mean tweets are nothing compared to the unrestrained criticisms that he is unleashing now.

  7. I very much agree with the comment about anonymity. Political divides seem to be getting broader and broader with time, and I think that part of that is due to the fact that people don’t have to be people anymore. It’s so much easier to be inflammatory when it’s username to username instead of person to person. The same goes for venting: I feel far more inclined to calm down and consider my thoughts before lashing out when I know that my name will be attached publicly to every word I say. Allowing emotionally charged tweeting or blogging under an alias is bound to end in disaster.

  8. I think the larger question raised here is about the blurring of the line between public and private. This is something that we as college students should be aware of, as more and more schools review potential students’ social media profiles. If an employee is posting untoward things on the internet that do not affect his or her effectiveness on the job, is that proper justification for termination? Of course, the smartest thing to do is never to post objectionable material in the first place, however, is it right that engaging in a constitutionally-protected activity in the privacy of one’s own home outside of work is enough to warrant termination? This is a tricky issue.

  9. ianhesterly says:

    Most of my thoughts on this issue coincide with some of the above comments. First of all, he should’ve been smart enough to know that tweeting those things could cost him his job (and maybe he did, hence the anonymous account). Secondly, I’m not sure that it SHOULD cost him his job, as he wasn’t leaking any classified material. People are far too sensitive and the things he tweeted were far less severe than much of the name-calling going back and forth by members of congress. Finally, I’m curious how his bosses found out who it was. In light of the details about all of the metadata that the government is collecting (and the DOJ’s probe of the AP), I wonder if his twitter identity was discovered through the same methods or something different.

  10. madythorn says:

    It seems to be common sense to me that one should not post on a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook about things concerning their job. We are told this time and time again by our parents, our teachers, and our peers. Common sense would imply that we should not be trash-talking people that we work with where others can read it. I understand that he went through precautionary measures to ensure that his Twitter handle wasn’t obviously realized to be him, but really, nothing is secret on the internet. I don’t necessarily think that any of his comments were extreme enough to lose his job over, and maybe the government was a bit extreme, but he still should have known better than to publicize those thoughts and feelings.

  11. mncarlson95 says:

    This man has worked for the government for many years and knows valuable intelligence and therefore should know how to conceal information. It surprises me that he let a comment fly like that since he is a foreign worker. Honestly he should have knew better than to post a comment with that tone and direction. It cost him his position and respect and his career is now shot because of him publicizing his thoughts. Shows the impact that words have on people and goes to show what happens to someone with that kind of power to influence.

  12. alexkhirst says:

    While I think it’s unfortunate that Mr. Joseph’s career was ruined by Twitter, at the same time, he should have realized that with today’s technology and the importance of social media, even posting anonymously would be discovered. Social image is so important in today’s society that it truly can determine someone’s career and public figures need to realize this. People should not also rely anonymity to hide behind on the Internet, as like a commenter mentioned above, nothing will stop people from saying anything they want when they think they cannot be known. This is where I think the generation before us falls short in today’s world and what our generation will have to face in the coming decades– the importance of maintaining standards on social media.

  13. cassidyhansen says:

    I think it is easy to let out comments and feelings without thinking about the consequences within Twitter because it does not take much effort to write so few characters and send it out to the world. This instance is also an example of how Twitter does not work well when it comes to talking about ideas in the realm of the government–rather, Twitter should be used for updates on what is currently happening in the government, not as a platform for ideas. I do have to say, I disagree with all individuals having to state an identity with their comments. I think by taking away the identity of the individual, we are able to see the worst of our society. While the worst of our society is often hard to handle, it is important to know what people feel if there were no consequences. In this case with Twitter, the “worse part” of the society was fired due to discomfort. All in all, it is time that we learn to deal with the animosity behind anonymity and realize there is some truth behind the heightened statements.

  14. skylodwig says:

    This is a great example of two things that I think will be of bigger issue in the coming future – 1. nothing is ever anonymous (unless you’re a highly skilled hacker) and 2. the things that you put on the internet will effect your future. It may seem extreme that he was fired over these tweets because to us social media is no big deal while simultaneously being the most important thing in our lives. But reputation is key in any profession, especially politics. He must have had some clue to that if he felt the need to create an anonymous handle in the first place. Working for the government though, he should also realize that is extremely difficult to ever really be anonymous. There are thousands of different trails that technology leaves and it’s not difficult to follow.
    On my other point, I think a problem that is going to plague this social media generation is the fact that what you post on the internet now, will stay on the internet forever. It is nearly impossible to completely erase something from the internet. Once it’s there, it’s there. Right now, people have no concern about what they put on the internet because they’re just “being kids” but come five or ten years when they’re trying to have a serious career, these are exactly the type of things that could potentially inhibit that from happening.
    My mom always said that if you don’t want anyone knowing something, don’t write it down and don’t take a picture of it. Well social media encourages the exact opposite. I won’t be surprised if we see many more situations like this in the coming future.

  15. I agree that Joseph’s crassness on twitter, while definitely not professional, has probably been blown out of proportion. Since the twitter was anonymous and he didn’t say anything that was very sensitive in nature (that the article says, at least), then its a little crazy that his whole career went down the drain because of it. That being said, I think that when someone is working that high up in government and with such influential people, the highest level of professionalism is vital. And once the White House knew who was running the twitter, their only choice was to fire him so as to keep that standard of professionalism. This story is definitely a reminder to be careful about the things I post on social media. There is no forgiveness with the internet- anything you put up will always be out there.

  16. It blows my mind that someone so entrenched in such a public sector could be so careless on so public a platform. Considering the degrees he’s attained, you’d think that somewhere along the line of Joseph’s education he would have been taught to retain some sort of discretion. Celebrities and politicians have been known to operate two separate accounts for each of their social media platforms: one is extremely private and limited to very intimate friends, and the other is the public face that they want to portray. Joseph should have considered investing in the former option, or else exercised a little bit of self-control in keeping his opinions out of such a permanent place.

    It’s a very difficult choice to move into the public arena. I think that those willing to make the leap also need to realize the personal freedoms they will be putting on hold in the best interests of such a career choice. Someone is always listening, and it just goes back to what my mother always used to say: Never say anything out loud or in type that you wouldn’t mind being printed on the front page of the New York Times.

  17. madeleineary says:

    This is the first time in history that people’s public life can be so easily, and so frequently, intermingled with their public life. We do not yet understand the repercussions of our behavior on the internet. It gives the impression that it will last a moment and then disappear, just as things can so easily disappear on a computer when they’re not saved. Unfortunately, in some way we do not yet comprehend, everything that happens is now saved in a multitude of places all throughout the world and cannot truly be said to be ever gone. I think this will be abundantly obvious to the next generation, but to those of us who are on the front lines, there is still a large and unfortunate learning curve to be met.

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