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'Business Insider' CTO Booted for Offensive Tweets

By Seth Fitzgerald
September 10, 2013 12:30PM

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What lesson should we learn from 'Business Insider' CTO Pax Dickinson losing his job? Better think before you tweet. When you're associated with a brand or representing a company, it's especially important to be careful what you post anywhere online. Offensive tweets and other comments, whether racist, sexist, or the equivalent, can live on forever.

Twitter can be a great social networking tool for businesses and individuals, but as we've seen with Facebook, things can easily go wrong when people share what they really think. Pax Dickinson, chief technology officer (CTO) of the "Business Insider" news site, has experienced the downside of being too controversial on Twitter this week. Dickinson was apparently fired or asked to resign for posting a variety of offensive, racist and sexist comments.

In a statement addressing the issue of the offending posts, Business Insider's editor-in-chief Henry Blodget wrote, "A Business Insider executive has made some comments on Twitter that do not reflect our values and have no place at our company. The executive has left the company, effective immediately." While Blodget chose not to name Dickinson in his remarks, the story made big headlines throughout the day, Tuesday.

So far, in response to the criticism and losing his job, Dickinson has stood by his views. He's apparently not trying to gain public support nor claim that he did not actually mean what he was tweeting.

Instead, Dickinson has been making light of the entire situation, especially because of all the attention he has received. "I gained 850 twitter followers and +7 @klout in less than 24 hours. Now offering social media consulting services," said Dickinson.

You Are What You Post

When you are a relatively well-known public figure, or associated with a brand, or representing a company, it's especially important to be careful what you say or tweet or post anywhere online. Of course, the rules are not much different online or off. Offensive comments, whether racist, sexist, or the equivalent, are always a problem -- but even more so when they can live on forever and reach a virtually unlimited audience via the Internet.

Unlike in the decades before Twitter and Facebook, people can now see the offhand comments that every other person makes. Instead of "you are what you eat," better start thinking "you are what you post."

Anything posted on a social network can be found at a later date and with the way the Internet works, even deleted posts are sometimes not gone completely. In fact, there are countless stories of people losing their jobs, being kicked out of school, and even being arrested because of things posted on social media.

Job seekers should also keep in mind that most employers today run a quick search online when vetting their job applicants. In fact, a survey earlier this year showed that 10% of people who responded stated that they had lost jobs because of something they posted on social media.

While Pax Dickinson may in fact benefit from all the attention, his experience should serve as a reminder: racist, sexist and other offensive comments can come back to haunt you. Always better to think before you post.

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