If you think using social media is harmless, think again. While it has many benefits, it can also cause unforeseen consequences. By now, most realize what you share online has resulted in employees being fired. Making a valid complaint via Twitter has resulted in brand advocates being terminated.
Some claim you can't fire someone for what they say on Facebook. It isn't that simple. Even the Labor Relations board has gotten involved in whether a person can be fired for what they post on Facebook or not. The answer is yes, sometimes.
Getting fired is one thing - but what if what you do on social networks determines whether you get to stay in a country or get ejected?
Immigration Status and Social Media
First, some good news. Even though there does not appear to be any official policy about it, immigrants are being allowed to use social media in their applications. Checkins on Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Uber locations and Tender locators have all been mentioned.
At least for now, immigrants are being permitted to prove how long they were in the U.S. using these applications. It is likely other countries may be doing so as well.
Immigration status is a complicated subject best left to immigration attorneys. Fortunately, some agencies such as Immigrateful make it possible to fill in the forms online and then get them reviewed. Knowing what to include or omit could mean the difference between staying or going.
Remember that social media can be both positive or negative. In Why Social Media Matters in Immigration Cases, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed an internal memo indicating that the INS uses social media to investigate fraud:
"Most disconcertingly, the memo does not indicate the level of suspicion required before an investigation of a person through social media is to be undertaken. No behavioral parameters are defined, leaving the impression that any USCIS officer can sit at a computer and freely conduct surveillance of any applicant's Facebook or MySpace pages to root out "fraud." In addition to those sites, the memo lists several others including Badoo (popular in Europe), MIGente (for Latinos), and Muxlim (for Muslims)."
Whatever we do online is recorded. That includes email, chats and conversations on services such as Skype, and social media bios and posts. Anyone whose immigration status could be questioned should be especially cautious what they say.
Social Media Related Deportations
How do you know what could get you deported? While there is no one answer, we could use some of the case law and guidelines from When Your Employees Go To Far on Social Media. What is too far for an employee would also be "too far" for an immigrant.
An American was deported from Indonesia because of an angry tweet. Cambodia deported and banned tourists for four years for posing nude when the photo went viral online. British student Gary Spedding was strip searched and deported from Israel because his "social media activity posed a security threat". Israel is threatening to barr him from their country for ten years. He intends to challenge the ban in the Israeli court system.
Social Media Behavior
It is difficult to be absolutely certain that nothing you do online will create unintended consequences. But there are some standards that could be shared with people - and especially young people - to reduce the likelihood. They may not realize what is normal among their peers is considered unacceptable to those who may judge what they do.
These Netiguette Guidelines for Brands are useful for anyone. Beyond those, to generations before now and in other countries, these behaviors are best avoided:
- anything sexually suggestive
- threatening anyone
- verbal attacks
- illegal activities
While advertising, movies, and television are all guilty of making these seem acceptable, employers and authorities will not agree. What may be common in one country may be considered appalling or even illegal in another. When traveling abroad be sure to study what is unacceptable and especially illegal there prior to arriving.
The quandary many may encounter is how what they did years or even decades ago will impact them now and in the future. Better to err on the conservative side. Even if you don't post your activities online, there could be someone else with a camera who will.