Mr. Chad Shanks, former digital communications manager of the NBA Houston Rockets, was fired after tweeting this:
He sent the tweet during the fifth game of the Houston Rockets v. Dallas Mavericks 2015 NBA playoffs series. As a MFFL (Mavs fan for life), I was a little disappointed in my team’s performance and extremely disappointed in the referees’ calls. With only a couple of minutes left to play, it was obvious the Rockets were going to win. The tweet added insult to injury and went a step too far because it implied that all of the Mavericks would soon be shot and killed. A playoff loss can definitely feel like a shot to the heart, but threatening to shoot the Mavericks, even in emoji form, could be taken as a serious threat. The Mavericks’ 2015 playoff run may be over, but their lives are not.
Every individual has the right to cheer for his or her favorite sports team and criticize the other team. But when professionals represent an organization, they can’t say whatever they want. Shanks was responsible for protecting the Rockets’ reputation and failed. Criticizing is one thing, but threatening is another. If Shanks had tweeted from his personal account, I don’t think he would have been fired. Unfortunately he didn’t think twice, like countless other professionals who have made grave mistakes on social media. Although Shanks apologized, the damage had already been done.
Fortunately, the Mavericks’ social media manager handled the situation very professionally.
Moral of the story? There is a difference between what you can tweet on your personal account and your organization’s account. Be careful and think twice before you post, especially if you are holding the reins of an organization’s reputation.