Is Going Viral Worth Getting Fired?

Hannah Kohl
October 18, 2019

There have been plenty of times when employees were rightfully terminated due to something they posted on social media—such as this PR exec’s racist tweet or this Taco Bell worker who filmed himself peeing on a plate of nachos and posted it to Twitter. 

Other times there seems to be a fine line between funny content and fireable offenses on social media. What’s the true price of going viral? Learn your lesson from these five employees who got canned for clout.

The Panera mac and cheese exposé

This Panera Bread employee is the latest in line of unlucky individuals who’ve lost their jobs from a post on social media. In case you haven’t seen the viral TikTok video, user @briannaraelenee exposed the truth behind the customer-favorite mac and cheese. (Side note: if anyone thought this video would deter me from eating Panera mac and cheese, they are sorely mistaken. My first thought upon seeing the video was “Where can I buy a bag?”)

Panera clapped back and defended their food making process, and the user who posted the video was allegedly fired after the vid went viral. So was it worth it? She responded to the question on Twitter with, “ehh i mean it is what it is” — yikes. (Editor’s note: She has since pinned a tweet on her Twitter profile assuring she was not wrongfully terminated.)

Target bumper carts

Here’s another example of an employee who was fired from her job at Target because of a viral tweet. Last year, Twitter user @delilah810 posted a video of her and her co-worker/friend playing in the parking lot with shopping carts, which hilariously ends as the cart hits a curb. 

I’ll admit, I lol’d (and by “lol” I mean I exhaled heavily out my nose while laying in bed). Unfortunately, one of the girls was fired just three days after she posted the video. Do you think she deserved the boot? Personally, I think it was harmless fun (as long as no one got hurt). 

Washing in a Wendy’s 

Just this past summer, an employee at a Wendy’s in Florida (no surprise there) was filmed bathing in the kitchen sink of the restaurant. The teen stripped down to his basketball shorts and hopped right in with the encouragement of his peers. 

He was obviously fired over his outlandish behavior and sanitary concerns. This one was definitely justified—but it’s not clear if the employees cheering him on were reprimanded in any way. Should they take some of the blame? 

A security guard’s flatulence 

This one’s a doozy. A security guard working at a Florida (again?!) hospital recorded a six-month compilation of himself farting on the job. Yup, you read that right. This security guard who is known as Paul Flart (amazing name) was fired after his flatulent film went viral.

Apparently, he was not fired for the farts, but rather due to a no-phone policy and recording in uniform on a private property. Fair enough. However, if the video hadn’t gone viral, his place of work most likely never would have found out. Which begs the question: Is 15 minutes of internet fame worth it?

Harlem Miners and Shakers

Here’s another oldie but a goodie for you: The Harlem Shake. I have war-like flashbacks of this wretched dance. But, it turns out dancing on the job can come at a hefty price.

In 2013, a group of 15 miners in Australia posted their spin on the viral dance to YouTube. Due to safety concerns, the miners were all sacked and lost their six-figure salaries. It was reported that some workers who didn’t even participate—just observed—also lost their jobs. Ouch. 

So what have we learned from these examples? Always err on the side of caution, and think before you post! Employers are always checking social media, so at the very least, make your profile private before posting anything like these stunts. In my opinion, 100k Twitter likes is not worth losing your job.

What do you think?