Social media trolling and organizational codes of conduct

Your social media profile is not just for flicking through the photos of your distant aunt or wishing your old schoolmates on their birthday. What started as the social networking medium has now gone way beyond that. Your social media profile now defines YOU. According to some companies, they prefer going through the social media profiles of their potential employees before hiring them. The State Department US  now requires nearly all applicants for US visas to submit their social media usernames. Your social media handle says a lot about you as it shows your aptitudes and personality type which come before the skill set to certain organizations.

Sadly, not many of us understand the social responsibility that comes with the privilege of being on social media platforms. While social media has brought many positive changes to our lives it has also brought the bleak reality of online bullying, trolling and harassment. Recently an incident related to social media trolling has become the main topic of discussion on Pakistani Twitter. An employee of Bank Alfalah was seen trolling and harassing many people on twitter for having a different point of view. He seemed just one of those trolls who could not stand dissent.

However, to his dismay, he also got into an encounter with the famous journalist Hassan Zaidi who chose to speak against it.

Soon this employee was dismissed from his job and we could see Pakistani Twitter divided into two groups.

One group found the organization’s behavior too harsh and believed the journalist used his influence.

The other group believed that if an employee is going against the organization’s social media policy he/she has to face the music. They believe online harassment should not be ignored.

The opinions are diverse and both sides have logic to support their point.

The main question that arises at this stage is that was the organization clear enough to communicate its Code of Conduct to the employees. Did this particular employee have an idea that cyberbullying and harassment is not just for fun but also has long-lasting impacts? Should the organization have issued him a warning before firing on spot?

Is online bullying a breach of freedom of expression? Why do we not understand our responsibility when using social media? Will harassment only be taken seriously when the victim is a person of influence and comes from a position of power? These and many questions are hovering above my head. Please let me know if you have the answers. I stand perplexed and lost.

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