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How Tweeting Can Get You Fired

As the Department of Defense revisits its social-media policy in January (it simply calls for the secure use of sharing technologies), it has plenty of other industries' mistweets to learn from.

think bout a clever diss then that wit ur f** pic. Christopher street boy. Is what us east coast cats call u.

FALLOUT Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson tweeted a gay slur at a heckler (with great diction), and 32,000 fans petitioned for his firing. The team suspended and then waived him, in part for ignoring the NFL's policy, which bans the use of social media before, during, and after a game.

Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot... #Lebanon.

FALLOUT CNN journalist Octavia Nasr lost her job. Her tweet (upon the death of Fadlallah, who was linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans) violated CNN's policy, which states, "Don't list preferences regarding . . . news makers that are the subject of CNN coverage."


FALLOUT It was the underwear-clad erection seen 'round the world, from Representative Anthony Weiner to a college coed. Congress has no social-media policy to govern staffers, but good old public pressure and moral outrage nudged the rep from office in June. It's a double win for the GOP: zero regulation and a market-based solution!

Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them.

FALLOUT Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of the Aflac duck, tweeted a string of jokes after the tsunami in Japan—where the insurance giant does 75% of its business. Aflac doesn't have a social-media policy for voice talent but used a morals clause in Gottfried's contract to justify termination. Then it hired a new duck.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.