Veterinarian Fired Over Controversial Facebook Post

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With a click of a button, your job can be taken away, years of building a career thrown down the drain and a reputation tarnished. Take a look at Dr. Kristen Lindsey for example.

Not only was Lindsey fired from her job as a veterinarian this week, but she could face animal cruelty charges due to a social media post.

Lindsey was employed by the Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas when she posted a disturbing photo on her Facebook page. The post shows her holding a cat with an arrow through its head. The caption reading “my first bow kill. Lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head. Vet of the year award…gladly accepted.”Facebook post

In the comments of the photo, Lindsey stated, “No I did not lose my job. Lol. Psshh. Like someone would get rid of me. I’m awesome!”

The clinic, indeed, fired the veterinarian as well as covered her name on its marquis with duct tape. Since the incident, Lindsey has deactivated her Facebook account.

Immediately following the posting, the clinic received hundreds of calls from people angered by the post. In addition, the clinic has received bomb threats.

“Our goal now is to go on and try to fix our black eye and hope that people are reasonable and understand that those actions don’t anyway portray what we’re for here at Washington Animal Clinic,” said Dr. Bruce Buenger, Washington Animal Clinic.

Calls also flooded the sheriff’s office in Austin County, where the cat was shot. The department conducted an investigation and submitted findings to the District Attorney office.

First Lesson Learned:

  • Train employees on proper social media use. Your employees represent your organization. What they post has a direct reflection on the reputation your business upholds.
  • In addition to employees, train company leaders on social media use and legal rights.

For employees:

  • Educate yourself on your company’s social media policy.
  • If the company does not have a policy, encourage one be created.facebook post 2
  • Use common sense. Think twice before posting to social media. If you question yourself before hitting send, chances are you should not be posting the content.

Second Lesson Learned:

Stay on the offense, not defense. In this situation, the clinic now must protect and maintain its image and integrity with the public. They are “playing defense.” Be proactive and prevent a crisis from occurring rather than reactive when one does occur; because it’s not a matter of if a crisis will occur, but rather when.

What is being said on social media today can and will have a direct effect on your company tomorrow. Lindsey’s posts caused the bomb threats to the clinic. Ensure you know what is being said online about your company. Conduct thorough social media monitoring to predict and potentially stop crises from occurring.

Social Media is not random; it’s targeted

There are threats and risks you can identify before they become crises, if you listen and look. Today, initial threats or risk behaviors are shared or observed through social media. Firestorm develops predictive, actionable intelligence for clients, helping them identify targeted threats and risks before they materialize. As a result, there is time for intervention. In many cases, the risks are mitigated or eliminated.

People know – and when they know, they talk. Today, people talk on social media. Words matter. Intent matters. This social conversation is a complex one. It involves the semantics of speech; it is syntax, context, and idiom. You don’t have until tomorrow. What’s on social media today is already in your organization, now.

Tightening Social Media Regulation

Earlier this month, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) released new federal-workforce guidance on social media. These regulations relate directly to federal employees.

According to the OGE:

Use of social media has become prevalent among Federal executive branch employees and agencies. The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is aware that agency ethics officials have an interest in understanding how the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Executive Branch Employees (Standards of Conduct), 5 C.F.R. part 2635, apply to the use of social media.

This interest is reflected in the increased volume of questions that OGE receives from various agencies seeking advice in this area. As an initial matter, the Standards of Conduct do not prohibit executive branch employees from establishing and maintaining personal social media accounts.

As in any other context, however, employees must ensure that their social media activities comply with the Standards of Conduct and other applicable laws, including agency supplemental regulations and agency-specific policies. To assist employees and agency ethics officials in this endeavor, OGE is providing the following guidance regarding issues that agency ethics official have frequently raised concerning employees’ obligations under the Standards of Conduct when using social media.

New rules apply to social media in areas such as fundraising, seeking outside employment, use of an employee’s title and more.

Read the full report of the new guidelines here.

Learn more about crisis social media here.


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