Bullied? Do’s and Don’ts on Social Media

It feels great to share your concerns or your victories on social media. It can feel gratifying to get approval or “likes”

on your posts. But—can your social media posts backfire on you? Yes, they can. If you are venting about your workplace bullying and using a person’s name, you could be committing defamation of character. Most people who are dealing with workplace bullying need an outlet to express their concerns and seek guidance from others who are experiencing the same issues.

A safer way to join a Facebook group that supports people who deal with workplace bullying is to make up a fake (pseudo name). I recommend never using another person’s name in your posts or comments but discussing your issue in “general terms.” If you join a Facebook group under your “real name,” be careful with what you post. Keep out names and circumstances that could be “used” against you if it falls into the wrong hands. There are cases where the bully or their attorney has compiled social media posts to use against the “bullied.” It would not serve you for your highest good to have the “other side” to have ammunition to use against you.

Documentation that presents compelling evidence can be very powerful. If you have made social media posts that could be potentially damaging to you if it gets in the right hands, do your best to delete these posts right away. There is no way that a Facebook administrator, who oversees a Facebook group, will be able to know who the “bully” is or “bullied” in their groups. Anyone can request to join a Facebook group or a Twitter group. Always be careful, especially if you have a court hearing or an Equal Employment Opportunity Community (EEOC) hearing.

The “perpetrator” or attorneys representing the perpetrator may attempt to find a way to access your social media to see if they can find “evidence” or posts that could help them “leverage” control over you. For example, if you are pursuing an EEO hearing, you have signed a “statement” that you cannot discuss your case, except with certain professionals. Your case can be thrown out by the EEOC because you “discussed” your case with others that don’t meet the criteria set forth by the EEOC.

Slander and Libel

“There are two different types of defamation of character. The first is when someone verbally says a false statement about you. This activity is referred to as slander. The second is when someone writes down or publishes a false statement about you. This action is referred to as libel.

Once you have proven to the court of law that the statement made against you was, in fact, false, the last step is showing that the statement caused some form of damage to you or your reputation. Some lawyers may tell you that despite being one of the last steps in the process, proving that a statement has caused you harm is the most challenging part of the process. First, there is a clear difference between a statement having the potential to cause you problems and the statement causing you problems. It is considered defamation of character if the statement has caused you harm, not if it has the potential to cause you harm.

To receive a potentially positive outcome, you are going to need to prove that the false statement has always ruined your reputation. If you are a business owner, for example, you would need to show how the statement has had a devastating impact on your business.

Everyone has “rights,” and if you “verbalize” or “publish” derogatory comments about another person, you could end up with a liability suit against you. Claiming “slander or libel” can get very “sticky,” as you will have to prove your comments as being “true.” Court costs and legal fees can add up to a lot of time and money. Is it worth it?

Here is an example: if you are pursuing an EEO hearing, you have signed a “statement” that you cannot discuss your case, except with certain professionals. Your case can be thrown out by the EEOC because you “discussed” your case with others that don’t fall under the criteria of the EEOC.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have made defamatory remarks about a bully. Just be mindful in the future and protect yourself. You never want a bully to hold “power” over you, especially if you can prevent it. Reach out to resources that can help or encourage you. Be mindful of social media groups or any group individuals that focus only on the “negativity” of their situation. Everyone’s story is compelling to them. The caution we all can take is to be mindful of each person’s contribution to the group. Are they positive or negative?

It is very cathartic to share feelings about your bullying situation. However, some people will not try to improve their situation. They will wallow in their sorrow because they appreciate the “pity” attention they receive. Some of them will complain and spew negativity, but they will do nothing to help themselves become empowered. I think most people want to become
empowered and want to know how to stand up to workplace bullying. Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with because their “energy” will rub off on you.

Last, reach out to support groups or create your own ones so you can get the help your need and the support you deserve. Be smart and remember, “You are always on Parade.” You are observed by people who are visible and not visible in your life. When needed, reach out to a reputable employment attorney for legal advice.

I believe in safe and respectful work environments. If you feel the same, check out my other articles: https://goodmenproject.com/author/consultwithdawngmail-com

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Photo courtesy iStock.

Previously published on Workplacebullyingsupport.com

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