Labour MP Naz Shah was suspended from her Party this week, due to a historic Facebook post. It is important to be aware of the potential damage that one careless comment on social media can inflict on your professional reputation.
Mis-judged Facebook post
The BBC reported that in 2014 Naz Shaz shared a graphic on Facebook which many people have since deemed anti-semitic. This content featured a map of Israel super-imposed on the US, along with the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine conflict – relocate Israel into United States.” Shah added a note which suggested that this idea could “save them some pocket money.”
Naz Shaz was elected the MP for Bradford West in 2015. The Facebook post she shared and commented on before she became an MP was recently highlighted by politics website Guido Fawkes, along with another post in which Shah likened the policies of the Israeli government to those of Hitler and Nazi Germany. The MP has since offered a “profound apology” for these Facebook posts in the House of Commons.
Suspended from the party
Despite her apology, calls for Shah to be suspended from the Labour Party soon mounted. The subject was even addressed by David Cameron in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). Cameron suggested that it was “quite extraordinary” that Labour had not withdrawn the whip from Shah at that point, over what he argued were “racist” comments.
Just before PMQs, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement which read: “These are historic social media posts made before she was a member of parliament. Naz has issued a fulsome apology. She does not hold these views and accepts she was completely wrong to have made these posts. The Labour Party is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.”
Corbyn has however now suspended Shah from the Labour Party. Explaining this decision, the Labour Party said: “Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the general secretary. Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed.” Before her suspension, Shah had already quite her job as an unpaid aide to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Reputation and social media
Naz Shah’s professional reputation now lays in tatters. Rightly or wrongly once you enter the public eye or move into a position of authority, it is likely that your personal history online will fall under scrutiny. Awareness and a review of your own online commentary across owned assets and profiles is essential to maintaining reputation and in some cases your job.
If your historic social media activity falls under scrutiny, it could even prevent you from moving up the career ladder. According to Career Builder’s 2015 Social Media Recruitment Study, the number of employers who research job applicants online rose from 37% in 2013 to 52% last year. In other words, people will look at your social media channels to ascertain your professional reputation, so it is vital that you manage these profiles carefully in order to build a successful career in your chosen field.