Are controversial social media posts on your personal accounts a matter for your employer?

I came across this article on the Guardian website a few weeks ago and noticed it again yesterday on the Evening Standard site. It is about an employee at the British Council (the Head of Global Estates no less) who on her personal Facebook account, made comments ‘mocking’ Prince George. If you’re really interested in what she said… “I know he’s only two years old, but Prince George already looks like a F****** D***head (these are the Guardian’s asterisks, I am unsure if the original post included them).

If this was the British Council’s Facebook account or Twitter feed, and the employee had posted it, I would understand the uproar. But it wasn’t. It was her own personal account, and she was expressing her own, personal opinion. An opinion I should add that many others have.

Why is this a national news story? I appreciate that she is a senior employee, but why are the British Council investigating, and why has said employee had her name dragged through social and print media??

I really don’t know the answer. Maybe she didn’t have the “Comments are my own” line on her account (which I’ve always considered a waste of time). We can still clock off, head to the pub and say what we like about the Royal Family or our employer for that matter and know that our personal thoughts and opinions are just that. This would not have been an issue before social media so why now??

Ok so there is an argument that if these were racist comments, then the story would be different, but where does Freedom of Speech start and stop??

I also think the way the British Council have handled it is all wrong. By saying they are investigating an employee for personal posts, they have flamed the story and made it much stronger story “British Council to investigate employee” instead of “British Council employee says something rude about Prince George in her own personal time away from work”.

My advice would have a simple “The comment was made on a private social media account and has no connection to the British Council and does not represent the views of the British Council”. And that’s it. I would have been tempted to add “what employees do and say in their own time is their own business”, but I wouldn’t, as it’s not our place (I’m thinking as if I’m working for the BC) to be the moral compass for the Fourth estate.

I would expect it from the Mail, or Express, but I would hazard a guess that a lot of Guardian journalist share this person’s republicanism.

It’s interesting that the Guardian didn’t open comments on this piece, I wonder if it’s because they knew their reader’s response would have been “yeah, so what” and “I agree”.

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