Jeff Cox, a Deputy Attorney General in Indiana is the latest example of people that blow themselves up on social media sites. His mistake? Mr. Cox retweeted a Mother Jones report on the protests occurring in Wisconsin over bargaining rights for state employees, which by itself wouldn’t have been a problem. What was a problem was that he added “Use live ammunition.” to the retweet. Mother Jones responded with an article headlined “Use Live Ammunition against Wisconsin protesters.” The result for Mr. Cox was that he was fired by the Indiana Attorney General’s office.
When challenged by Mother Jones about his retweet Mr. Cox replied “It was satirical, I was only trying to make people think.” Well, that didn’t fly very well either, especially in light of the recent shootings in Arizona. The suggestion from a deputy attorney general to use live ammunition on protestors and the flippant remarks that followed from him generated a firestorm of commentary involving Mr. Cox and the Mother Jones article.
In blowing up his online reputation with an ill-advised tweet and non-answers to questions from Mother Jones, Mr. Cox not only cost himself a job, he’s now got a link about the whole ordeal on the search engines which will be seen by anyone that searches for him. This will likely include future employers, rivals, etc. The link is likely to have a strong degree of staying power due to the amount of links which went back to the Mother Jones article. While the site doesn’t carry the authority that CNN does, for example, the Mother Jones link is going to be a tough one to displace on the search engine results pages even under the most rigorous of reputation management campaigns.
If this had happened prior to the advent of social media sites, this episode probably would have taken place in the form of an email and would not have seen the light of day unless it was leaked. Instead, Mr. Cox’s retweet was on display for the world to see the second it was posted. It’s a new game out there. Before posting anything, assume that everyone in your life both present and future is going to see it. It’s tough enough out there without being your own worst enemy. For more information, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.