what are the ethics of reporting social media posts to someone’s employer?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I was on the Facebook page for one of the local communities in my area, when I came across a post, paraphrased as follows:

“To the jerk at the grocery store, don’t scream at trailer trash customers in the checkout line … I swear, if you ever tried that with me, you would be my gunshot victim.”

This was only a few days after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, and it made me very uneasy. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I determined it was serious enough that doing nothing was a bad idea.

I’m ashamed to say that I decided to send a message to her employer via their Facebook, as it seemed the easiest option. I sent something like “one of your employees is disparaging the poor and threatening violence … It’s not a good reflection on your company.” They responded the next day to confirm the time of the post and thank me for the report, and I asked to keep my name anonymous.

What is your take on this, or more specifically, what is the right thing to do regarding unethical posts? I don’t think I made the right decision. I should have let the police sort it out or used Facebook’s reporting system. I tried justifying it by saying to myself that threats should be taken seriously and that it was stupid of her to list her employer publicly on her page. But now I think I may have ruined a stranger’s life over a dumb mistake on her part. Is it ever OK to report threats or forms of prejudice (against the poor or worse) to someone’s employer, or should I just keep scrolling?

I think you’re right that this didn’t rise to the level of something you should have reported to the person’s employer. It’s a gross message on many levels, but I don’t think it meets the bar for something a stranger needs to bring to her employer’s attention. I think that bar in general should be quite high.

But I do think there are things where it’s reasonable to do that — for example, overt racism or other bigotry from someone who works with disadvantaged populations or someone making what sounds like a genuine threat of workplace violence.

What do others think?

{ 833 comments… read them below }

  1. rayray*

    I would agree, probably not something for a stranger to report to an employer. However, probably would have been worth forwarding to the local PD.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Yup, threats of violence are best referred to the police department.

      As an example, just about every election year, some pundit decides they hate the President (whoever he may be at the time) and makes an edgy an assassination joke, only to find out the Secret Service does not have a sense of humor and they are now are under investigation.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Yep. I will joke about a lot of things, and I will post and share things highly critical of politicians I disagree with. But I never, EVER say anything that implies in any way that I would either engage in or advocate violent action against them. Because the Secret Service can’t afford to have a sense of humor about it, and I desire neither their scrutiny nor to waste their time.

        1. valentine*

          Calling the police may be a useless escalation. What I expected was that OP reported it to the grocery store. And, OP, your neighbor wasn’t necessarily disparaging the poor, but advocating for them/self, as a member of the group.

          1. Krabby*

            If the person being reported is not a person of colour, I think that sending it in to a tip line or something is actually the less severe option. If the police feel there is a danger, they will escalate it and act accordingly. A company might choose to fire someone immediately rather than deal with the potential PR issues.

            That said, I’m in Canada, so I’m not sure if there’s some difference that makes that not the case in the States.

              1. Mayflower*

                #NotAllMen|#NotAllWhitePeople|#NotEveryTime|#NotEveryCircumstance is never an appropriate response when someone brings up a systemic issue.

                You may not get an electric shock *every* time you lick a battery and yet as a rule, you still shouldn’t.

                1. AnnaBananna*

                  Ugh. Reading your last sentence gave me the thank-god-I’m-no-longer-a-stupidly-curious-child heebie jeebies. *shudder*

              2. Sally O*

                Right, but this happens so rarely, it’s a major issue that goes national. Pointing out that things like this happen to whites too reminds me of when mens’ rights activists drag out (extremely rare, usually from 300 years ago) incidents of horrific female wrongdoing to try to prove that they are just as violent as men, which everyone knows is ridiculous. You need to stop responding with comments like these because they minimize the experience of the truly oppressed in our society and make you look stupid.

            1. Works in IT*

              I’m especially troubled because the post described…. I mean, there’s still the troubling fact that they called the person they were addressing a possible gunshot victim, but we have no idea whether the bigoted person was the poster, or the customer the poster was talking about (so many people don’t put quotation marks where quotation marks should be, it’s entirely possible that they meant the PERSON WHO WAS SCREAMING called the people he was screaming at “trailer trash”, not that they think the people he was screaming at were trailer trash). Reporting someone for bigotry when they’re actually calling someone else out for bigotry… is not good. The gun threats should be reported to the police, but the bigotry… isn’t certain enough to justify trying to make this person lose their job for bigotry.

            2. some dude*

              So if it were a person of color, threatening to kill people is ok?

              A higher percentage of unarmed people of color are shot by police, and those are the stories that we hear about, but numerically, many more unarmed white people are shot by police.

              I get that police brutality is an issue. I also think that if you are threatening to murder people, that should be taken seriously regardless of your ethnicity.

              1. specks*

                No, I think what the poster was getting at is that communities of color tend to be victimized by the police, so calling a tip on someone of color should be done with a whole lot more care than someone white. Black people have been shot and killed while police was supposed to be helping them, let alone investigating them, so blindly initiating an encounter is irresponsible.

                And of course a larger absolute number of white people gets shot. The white population is larger. More white people do practically everything (other than get put in jail for nonsense), simply because there are more of them in the US. Absolute numbers are absolutely useless in this situation and I’d use those kinds of statements carefully, as they inadvertently (or purposefully) contribute to racist narratives.

                1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

                  On the extreme end, there is also a movement of sorts that says that you should never call the cops on POC, even if you feel that you are in danger or if they’ve committed a crime, because of the possibility of cops over reacting, and using excessive force. And with a heavy dose of blame applied to you if that is the end result.

                2. some dude*

                  Pointing out that white people are also impacted by police violence is contributing to racist narratives?

                  The absolute numbers are useful precisely because there are so many more white people. The impact on black communities by police violence is much higher, but the number of white people being killed by police is still significant.

              2. Lunita*

                Some dude- yes, you pointing out that higher numbers of white people getting shot by police obfuscates the systemic racism issue because as you acknowledged, percentage-wise, it’s people of color who are much more likely to be arrested, given heavier sentences, and killed by police. All of which points to systemic racism. Police brutality overall is an issue but don’t minimize or detract from the racism.

          2. fposte*

            I don’t think the grocery store has any authority here, though; it doesn’t sound like anybody involved worked there.

            1. Pandora's Son*

              About all they could do would be to ban the person from the store. They could also pass it along to the police, which might carry more weight since it is their employee who was threatened.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Or if the insulted employee complained to the bosses (e.g. “I don’t want to serve Bigot McRacist again”) then having a customer’s report on file is very helpful.

                1. fposte*

                  But there doesn’t seem to have been an employee insulted either–it sounds like it was one customer about other customers.

            2. CMart*

              The store doesn’t have authority, but I think they would still like to have it flagged if only to be able to decide if they need to take extra security precautions, or perhaps take it to the police themselves if they felt it was credible.

              I would be devastated if someone made some remark like this about my business, and then God forbid acted on it, and someone out there had seen the remark and not alerted us to it.

          3. Caramel & Cheddar*

            I know these terms can be used ironically or as an act of reclamation, but referring to “trailer trash customers” seems pretty disparaging to people who might see the Facebook post without personally knowing the person who wrote it.

          4. Zombeyonce*

            I think anyone using the words “trailer trash” is disparaging the poor, even if they are a member of that population.

          5. pony tailed wonder*

            I think I would rather have the police decide what is a credible death threat than an average citizen. They would know if they have had problems with that poster in the past or not.

        2. JSPA*

          There’s been a lot of talk about “stochastic terrorism.” (Briefly, cooperating in creating an environment where people who have a pre-existing tendency towards all-or-none thinking, a belief that the deck is stacked against them, poor impulse control, a driving need to “do something memorable,” access to weapons and not much to live for, will predictably be driven to attack some identified “problem group.)

          Also about how “just joking” has been leveraged in very cynical ways to appeal to young people casting about for ways to be cynical and edgy themselves, and also to give a free pass to, well, not-actual-jokes.

          That said, there’s a darn good reason why threats made as hyperbole have been exempted, in the US, from being classified as actual threats.

          One problem here is that, unless this is a failed paraphrase, it sounds like the person belittling “trailer trash” is an employee at the supermarket, and the person threatening violence is a customer (and not also an employee of the supermarket).

          The SUPERMARKET is the employer who needs to hear about this, and take the relevant next step(s). They have both a problem employee and a possible credible threat against that employee by a customer. They’re the ones to take it to the police, if they deem it necessary, and to speak to their cashiers about polite treatment of all customers.

          The employer of the person making the threat has zero standing to address the threat. Doxing the threat-maker to their workplace is, if anything, making the situation more volatile.

      2. Gardener*

        ***he or she**
        If we limit our rhetoric to the status quo, then we are also limiting our ability to conceive of a female president, whoever they may be and whichever party they represent.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        You don’t even have to be a pundit. At my mom’s former workplace, the Secret Service came in and hauled away some random dude who worked there because of a Facebook post he made about taking a gun to some event Obama was holding in a nearby town.

    2. designbot*

      Agreed, with the caveat that it’s not about it “not rising to the level” of reporting to the employer, it’s about the employer not being the best equipped to handle such a thing.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        This. If they were suggesting they would shoot someone at work that would be another kettle of fish. As this was in WalMart (sounds like they were a shopper, not an employee) reporting to the police and the store manager would be appropriate.

    3. Phillip*

      Adding to this to say the fact they didn’t call the police, but rather the employer, really shows the LW didn’t even think it was a legit threat. Just a nasty message (it was) deserving of potentially life-changing punishment (not so sure about that).

      1. Zillah*

        I’m not sure that’s a reasonable conclusion to jump to. It certainly could be the case, but I think that people often just don’t really know what to do in that kind of situation, and the actions they take aren’t necessarily the most logical in terms of getting a specific outcome.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I disagree. If they thought it was a safety threat then the police would have been the best best. The fact that they went to the employer shows that they weren’t worried about stopping a shooting. Instead, they were about retribution.

          1. Zillah*

            I’m not saying that going to the police would (or wouldn’t) be the best bet – I’m saying that people in situations they’re not used to don’t necessarily think to take the actions that are most objectively effective.

            You keep talking about retribution, and I’m really confused about why. There’s no personal relationship here – whether or not you agree with the OP, this isn’t really retribution.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              I said this below:

              It’s retribution because the OP is taking a huge negative action because of something someone posted.
              They’re not trying to investigate (or refer for investigation). They went straight for action because they didn’t like the post.

              1. Zillah*

                I strongly disagree that taking an action because of what someone else did is “retribution” (what else are you supposed to respond to??), and that seems like a really uncharitable interpretation of the OP’s thought process. Whether or not you think it was the correct course of action, finding comments about gun violence concerning is not the same thing as not liking a post.

                1. Phillip*

                  The retribution isn’t the call, it’s what comes after the call. There’s only one realistic thing that an employer would do with this info: discipline or fire. So while calling the cops is essentially “I think you should go check this out (and potentially prevent a shooting),” calling the employer is more like “I think you should fire this person (which does nothing to prevent a shooting).”

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  Phillips interpretation is what happens in a lot of employers. HR isn’t interested in doing complete
                  investigations. They are interested in keeping the status quo. So any call to an employer WILL make the employee a target to be let go even if the employee didn’t do anything wrong.
                  To call someone’s employer is to put that person at risk for discipline, lay-off, or firing.
                  You better have a good reason to do so.
                  That’s why you turn these things over to the police who actually have training in investigations. If there is an issue then they will escalate.

                3. IndoorCat*

                  I’m with Zillah. People aren’t always logical under stress.

                  I, for one, am incredibly averse to calling the police, especially in my city. But I’m much less averse to contacting a less-potentially-lethal authority. I could see myself thinking that contacting her boss was a “middle ground” that gets her banned / removed from the stressful context where she threatened gun violence, ameliorating the risk that she’ll actually act on her threat, without taking the risk that she could be wrongfully subject to violence or arrest herself. Whatever her employer does, they will stop short of assaulting her, killing her, or imprisoning her.

                  To me, only calling her employer is more merciful than calling the police, because things can escalate far further with police. Yet, at the same time, calling somebody with authority is better than doing nothing, because they can take action to protect the person who was threatened, at least in the context of their workplace.

                  When comparing worst case scenarios, getting someone fired when they didn’t mean their threat of violence is better than getting someone arrested or killed when they didn’t mean it. And both are better than standing by doing nothing if the person *did* mean what they wrote.

                  There’s no perfect solution here.

    4. Perpal*

      In my experience, police have zero interest in this sort of thing. Maybe things have changed and I’m sure they vary from place to place, but I couldn’t get the police to pay attention to a stalker activity threatening me online and saying they’d drive to my house; I don’t know what they’d do about such a vague online comment.
      Person’s employer/school is actually probably the “authority” most likely to take action. I actually think it’s not unreasonable to have reported this to them; perhaps there are other issues and it will help them protect their workforce.
      And yes, I think comments about hurting people should always be treated with seriousness.

      1. ampersand*

        It’s possible the police would take seriously the threat of shooting someone given the unbelievable and outrageous number of mass shootings in the US so far this year (255, last I heard). It’s just not something anyone should joke about, especially publicly, given the reality of gun violence these days.

        I’m so sorry the police wouldn’t take action on you being stalked—that’s disheartening, yet also not too surprising.

        1. Devil Fish*

          It super depends on where you are? I’m in a red state and one of my coworkers (lesson: don’t be online friends with coworkers!) kept posting 2nd amendment memes, vague threats and long rants about getting to be a “good guy with a gun” once she had her concealed carry permit, plus photos of the cute purse she got that has a gun compartment in it.

          Eventually the threats got specific enough to be actionable and I called the non-emergency police line but they didn’t care since no crime had been committed yet.

          After that I told our company’s HR about her posts and that she was probably bringing a gun into work (guns were not allowed in the building at work). HR talked to her and she posted a really long and threatening status about what she wanted to do to the person who reported her and that she was still gong to bring the gun to work “just in case [she] ever figures out who it was.” I didn’t even have to tell HR about that one, someone else beat me to it.

      2. rayray*

        Just a week or two ago, it was in the news that a 15 year old kid was arrested for making threats like this on a video game. I believe he got a felony charge. There’s a clip where the police are explaining to the mother of the kid why they’re arresting him and she’s just crying about him being a little boy, and it wasn’t serious. Those police didn’t care about her crying or attempt to reason. They were going to arrest him. It’s just like even Pre-9/11 days in the US, you’d be detained if you were heard saying “hijack” or “bomb” in the airport/on a plane.

        1. pancakes*

          I recall that story, and I’m not following you as to why you think the police should’ve been moved by mom’s crying, nor am I following as to what the “attempt to reason” was. The kid specified a certain model of gun he was going to bring to school, and said that he was going to kill no fewer than 7 people. 15 isn’t too little to understand why police & others consider that a serious threat.

          1. Isabel Kunkle*

            Yeah, likewise. If you’ve reached 15 in this day and age, you’ve probably had enough lockdown drills to understand why you don’t joke about that shit. Sadly.

            I’m not a fan of the police as a whole, but in cases like this? Yes. Absolutely call them, absolutely have the little sociopath arrested, and keep him from getting his incel-y fingers on firearms in future.

        2. Perpal*

          It sounds like it was the feds who may have arrested them; the feds were ultimately the more helpful group for me, but it went something like “private authority kept an eye on it” –> kept trying to escalate it –> eventually things got so bad that feds and (stalker’s, another state’s) local police and feds actually took interest. That was about at the point that people were not working (they made a lot of school shooting threats too and eventually made one directly to a school) and I was staying in a hotel for safety purposes (on advice of the private authority). My local police just said “if you see them, call us!” at which point probably someone would have been dead.
          From the news I read, the 15 year old kid was threatening to shoot up their school on the game. There’s every reason to take that seriously and arrest them; I think we have a lot of proof what happens if that crap is dismissed.

      3. geopanda*

        Right, I wouldn’t even bother reporting this to the police. They aren’t going to do anything. They don’t even take actual crimes seriously, at least not where I live. They will laugh in your face if you report this.

    5. MommyMD*

      Yes. Report it to PD where she lives. Let them handle it. I know personally what happens when disgruntled employees come to work armed. Our family will never be the same.

      Now if she worked at the grocery store, that’s different. They need to know. People are idiots who speak lightly of killing and gun violence. When they do it on social media, they will have some explaining to do.

    6. Shane MacQuarrie*

      The original post was saying NOT to scream at trailer trash, so I’m guessing that they consider themselves in the category.
      Depending on what was being screamed at me, if I felt threatened, I may very well defend myself with whatever I happen to have on me.
      The writer is an example of so many today who feel justified in getting upset, because of their own thin skin, instead of simply moving on.
      Everyone needs to get over themselves.

      1. geopanda*

        > Depending on what was being screamed at me, if I felt threatened, I may very well defend myself with whatever I happen to have on me.

        If you shoot someone because they said something you didn’t like, you’re not going to be able to claim self-defense. Have fun in prison

      2. Sue Wilson*

        You wrote
        Depending on what was being screamed at me, if I felt threatened, I may very well defend myself with whatever I happen to have on me.

        The writer is an example of so many today who feel justified in getting upset, because of their own thin skin, instead of simply moving on.

        and didn’t see the irony? Hmm.

  2. Eillah*

    I’m a big, big supporter of hitting bigots where it hurts: the wallet. They were given plenty of chances to be better people, maybe the shift towards consequences for being a racist ass (in the form of losing income) would be enough to at LEAST get bigots to STFU on social media platforms, if not adjust their views.

    1. Jungkook*

      So one angry, foolish post is enough to label someone as a bigot and take it upon yourself to try to sabotage their employment? So their hatred justifies yours and makes the world a better place to live in somehow?

      1. Moray*

        I want to know if one of my coworkers owns a gun and acts even slightly unhinged. Because an angry coworker is bad, but an angry coworker who owns a gun is someone I want to watch very, very carefully. I’m going to be wary of them. I’m going to make an effort not to encounter their spouse. Such is the state of our country.

        1. Kiwiii*

          Yep! I’m in this vein, too. It’s like — listen, there are so many horrible things happening, for them to threaten gun violence to anyone should be taken seriously.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Prove it? No. But saying specifically that someone is “going to be your gunshot victim” is pretty specific, and does heavily imply that the poster at least has ready access to a gun.

            1. Lehigh*

              I really don’t think there’s a correlation between “I would have shot that jerk,” and actual gun ownership. It’s my impression that guns are pretty easy to come by in the US.

              1. Aisling*

                When frustrated or enraged, I don’t think “I would have shot that jerk” ever. “I wish he would slip and fall into a trashcan,” sure, “this asshole needs someone to teach him manners” yes, but saying someone is going to be a “victim of your gunshot” is a pretty specific threat that I think would only really occur to be made by someone who also has the ability to make that happen.

              2. Moray*

                Perhaps. But I don’t find that particularly relevant. Because, as you say, it’s easy to get your hands on a gun.

                I don’t care if the odds are extremely high that they’re just a blowhard. “I have shooting people/guns on my mind” is nevertheless something I’d prefer to know about.

                It would still have an impact on how carefully I observed a coworker’s behavior, and how much I would want to avoid them if they seem ~off~ in any way.

              3. Eillah*

                This is an awfully cavalier attitude when you consider that there are multiple mass shootings A DAY in the United States.

              4. Zillah*

                Guns being “easy to come by” in the US does not mean that there’s no correlation between threatening to shoot someone and owning a gun.

                1. lew*

                  If anything, it means the comment is worse: Even if he doesn’t have a gun now, it would be easy to acquire one.

              5. Devil Fish*

                Of course there’s a correlation. People who don’t own guns/weren’t raised in a house with guns don’t tend to immediately jump to gun when they’re looking for a way to sounds like a badass.

                I don’t own a gun and I’ve never been that familiar with them. I tend to talk about “stabbing the motherf*cker” when I’m upset to the point of thinking violent thoughts. (Not that I would, it’s just the place my brain goes—and for godsake I know better than to post it anywhere.)

            2. NothingIsLittle*

              Do keep in mind that it’s specifically been paraphrased. I get the feeling that the original post was less explicit.

              1. Anax*

                That’s possible, but honestly, this doesn’t seem at all beyond the pale for “gross internet behavior”. I’ve certainly seen more explicit threats fairly regularly.

                1. pancakes*

                  Is that the standard, “beyond the pale”? If I had a coworker or other acquaintance who was threatening gun violence on social media, it wouldn’t make me feel any better at all to think about how common it is for people to threaten violence & other stuff on social media.

                2. Anax*

                  That’s… not what I’m saying, pancakes. What I’m saying is that I don’t think there’s reason to assume the OP is exaggerating (which sounds like NothingIsLittle’s assumption).

          2. VictorianCowgirl*

            So what? That really has nothing to do with anything. If someone threatens to shoot someone, you don’t stop to wonder if they have a gun. The threat stands on its own merits.

          1. Moray*

            In my region, not so much. Regardless, knowing about one of them is better than knowing about none of them.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Where I live, I probably do. And you’re right, I’ll never know, because they don’t make comments in public groups on social media threatening to pull their gun out and start shooting people.

            I had one coworker who had anger issues, and, as I one day found out, a concealed carry license. I kept my distance from that guy for the rest of the time we worked together. I generally liked him as a coworker, but I also like my family and want to come home to them in the evening. Better safe than sorry.

          3. Eillah*

            I’m in NYC, so I doubt that very much. Gun culture just isn’t a thing up here the way it is in other parts of the states.

            1. Zillah*

              Ditto. This is really, really dependent on the specific region and how urban the area in question is.

              1. Mouse*

                I disagree. I’m in a similar urban, liberal city, and my husband and I are saving up for one. Whenever I’ve mentioned it to friends, more than I’ve expected have volunteered that they own or would like to own one as well. Thinking that your coworkers don’t own guns because you’re in an eastern, urban area is frankly naive.

                I say this not to be argumentative, but to push against the fact that it’s only ‘those gun people” that own guns. I’m not even sure why it’s important to me, but I think it’s something to be aware of–it’s not all “those other people.” It’s normal people like you.

                1. Eillah*

                  And you kind of proved my point– it’s not as OPEN a culture as it is in other parts of the country.

                2. Zillah*

                  I understand wanting to push back against it – for the record, I actually have multiple family members who are quite liberal who own guns, including my father (who bought his rifle while living in NYC).

                  But I didn’t say that gun ownership is restricted to rural and conservative areas – I said that how common guns are is dependent on the area. That’s not naive; it’s just accurate. When my father lived in NYC, very few people he knew owned or wanted to own guns; now he lives in the rural southwest, and most people he knows own guns. It’s not that no one owns guns in NYC or everyone owns guns there, but how ubiquitous they are varies a lot.

                3. soon 2be former fed*

                  And this is what scares me. I hpe all you gun owners and prospective gun owners take lessons and practice regularly. An untrained person with a gun is less protection, and more danger, than no gun at all.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          +1000 This is the wrong year and country to make public posts threatening to shoot up a place, and not be taken seriously. If any of my coworkers is like that, I would also want to know (probably so I can request WFH forever).

          1. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

            This exactly. This is not the time nor place to be cutting people who make public threats of gun violence some slack.

          2. Essess*

            I agree entirely. There have been too many non-reports of gun threats that did turn into real violence. If someone makes a threat to shoot someone, you treat it seriously! I would have reported it.

        3. Joielle*

          Yup. If you own a gun in the US in 2019, you are going to be held to a higher standard. “I was just joking” or “it was an exaggeration” threats of violence go from simply unfunny to an actual liability. If someone doesn’t understand this very simple and obvious fact, they’re suspect, and if it’s my coworker (or friend, or family member, or a person in my community) I want to know about it. We can’t afford to be blase about gun violence right now, and if you’re the kind of person who thinks joking about it is ok, then you shouldn’t own a gun.

          1. BananaPants*

            Every responsible gun owner who I know IRL wouldn’t dream of making that kind of “joke” or comment on social media or in person.

            1. pancakes*

              And? It’s remarkable that you know them all well enough to feel you have a handle on all of their social media activity, but I’m not seeing the relevance. There are clearly a lot of people who make threats on social media, some jokingly, some not, and it doesn’t matter whether they personally consider themselves responsible gun owners.

            2. Alli525*

              I’m glad YOU only know responsible gun owners. I lived in the Deep South for a long time and have seen some real sh*t.

          2. soon 2be former fed*

            Yeah, it’s like joking about hijacking on a plane or at the airport. Not funny after 911. Undoubtedly some people are not serious about shooting anyone, but there’s heightened sensitivity now. Offhand remarks are taken a lot more seriously because everybody’s on edge. There are just too many damn guns in America.

            I think OP overreacted.

          3. Anon this time*

            I have to agree. I do think OP may have made the wrong call going to the person’s boss (what did OP want them to do about it?), but I can’t rebuke them too hard for feeling the need to say something. I have a close family member who owns several guns and is very responsible, who I know in my heart would never use one on a human by choice. The first time that person commented on shooting someone as a “joke,” I immediately said that wasn’t funny and to never make that kind of joke in my presence again, with no softness in my voice whatsoever. When there’s access to a gun and kids in my community have died from guns within school walls (that’s not a metaphor, I’m being literal), there’s no such thing as a joke about gun violence.

        1. Observer*

          But who was the bigot here? It sounds to me like it was the CASHIER who was a bigot and yelled at someone for being “trailer trash”.

          I could be wrong, because the post is paraphrased, but that’s what it comes of like to me.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t even think it was a cashier, just another random customer. (Meaning I don’t think that there was an option of reporting to the store, which is how this ended up an FB rant.)

            1. Lance*

              Yeah, the post/letter is vague enough that I have no idea who it’s ultimately talking about; whether it’s an employee of the store, or some other person that was around.

              1. fposte*

                Since the only people who are using the word “cashier” are in the comments here, I’m guessing there was no cashier involved except as fellow bystander.

                1. another scientist*

                  aaaah, I misread jerk as clerk. So I thought there was a cashier involved…maybe it’s all just customers.

            2. Observer*

              Ooh, good point.

              The basic premise still stands. It doesn’t sound like the poster was the bigot.

          2. AFT*

            That’s what I was wondering as well. They were saying don’t scream at trailer trash. It’s very possible they were just quoting what was yelled and should have said don’t call people trailer trash or put it in quotes or something. It doesn’t prove bigotry at all. It very well could have been but in of itself isn’t proof.

        2. LittleRedRidingHu..?*

          Maybe I’m reading OP’s paraphrasing wrong, but to me it sounded like the person was giving out to the cashier for yelling at so called trailer trash. So, in a way, she’s protective of the poor and at the same time threatens someone who’d do it to her ever. Still not ok, but less bigot/racist/elitist/ don’t know than some think
          Maybe I’m too European (German in my case) to understand the intricates of this. I’m lost, baffled and confused all at once.

          And just to be clear: threating someone be it with or without a weapon is never ever ok.

          1. Kitty*

            Well, trailer trash isn’t exactly a complimentary term. I wouldn’t exactly call it being “protective” of the poor…

            1. fposte*

              What we’re saying is we think the FB commenter may be quoting somebody else saying that, and threatening to use his gun in response.

            2. Yorick*

              A lot of people use terms to refer to their own groups, though. Or it might be a situation where they’re quoting what the screamer said.

              1. OhNo*

                That was my thought on first read – the person who wrote the Facebook comment identifies as part of the same community as the person who was called “trailer trash”.

                At least in my area, that’s one of those terms that’s both disparaging and partially reclaimed. Kind of like “redneck” or “hillbilly” – you can use it if you’re part of the same group, but outsiders calling you that is pretty insulting.

                1. LittleRedRidingHu..?*

                  yes, that’s how I read it as well. It’s a bit like some girls in the UK call themselves Chavs quite proudly,but if anyone else were to call them the same, wigs would be flying.

      2. Anon for this one*

        Sabotaging someone’s career is more likely to turn a mild racist into a foaming-at-the-mouth bigot than to persuade them to be more open-minded. The person who reported them gets to feel awesome about him/herself for a little while, but this tactic is counterproductive as hell in the long run.

        1. natto bean jean*

          Boy do I love 2019, when you can either stay quiet and basically condone bigots to do what they want, or speak up and I guess turn them into even worse bigots.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            So they wouldn’t have been such horrible bigots if they hadn’t experienced consequences for being bigots? And this is all the fault of the people who impose natural consequences for public behavior.


          2. Jadelyn*

            Amazing how violent bigotry is never the fault of the bigot, isn’t it? It’s always other people, who should’ve been nicer/shouldn’t have confronted them/etc.

            1. natto bean jean*

              Exactly! If someone believes that on a fundamental level your humanity has less worth than theirs,

              ~*~ iT’s YoUr FaULt fOr NoT bEiNg NiCe EnOuGh ~*~

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              “Look what you made me do,” says the bigot who is also somehow the victim. /s

            3. Phoenix Programmer*

              I think it’s funny that the folks pro getting the guy fired is convinced that the poster was a bigot. The context doesn’t even lend itself to that. More likely the poster self identifies as trailer trash.

              And this is a huge problem with deciding to mess with someone’s livelihood over a post with no context or even a 3rd hand account.

              1. natto bean jean*

                The poster “messed with their own livelihood” when they threatened gun violence on a stranger.

            1. fposte*

              I can see that POV, not being a fan of bigots and all, but I also think that threatening bigots tend to become angrier, not apologetic, with the loss of their livelihood, so I’m not sure it’s a net good for safety.

                1. fposte*

                  If you’re making the alternative so binary, sure. But it would be a great benefit to our world to move beyond that binary, because it lays the foundation for worse stuff down the road. The political discussion would be out of place here so I won’t get into that, but pragmatically, it’s not like we can just send bigots off to a planet where they’ll never bother the rest of us ever again, and frankly, I’m not that thrilled about an “F them” that makes them even more a problem of the taxpayers. So I don’t think that approach is working the way we want.

              1. Joielle*

                I get that, but… what IS the alternative then? FB and police won’t do anything – we both know that. “Do nothing” is obviously a bad option.

                I don’t think there is a way to handle bigotry that imposes consequences, but like, not TOO many consequences, in a way that will make a bigot see the error of their ways.

                1. fposte*

                  For the purposes of this letter, I don’t have an easy answer. But based on anecdotes of what’s made individual people change (like Derek Black), I’d be really interested in hearing a Freakonomics-type take on what seems to be most useful in effecting it.

                2. MastersResearch*

                  My master’s thesis asked a question similar to this. Some part of the answer I discovered was how important it was to engage people (who in this thread have been labeled bigots) in conversation – to actively seek positive interactions with them. Never compromising your own morals or thoughts, and never agreeing with theirs, but treating them with kindness they would not expect. This should *not* be put on the shoulders of any group (people of color, lgbt, etc) and it’s thankless and HARD work. But, it does show change.

                  I have some privilege in my identities. As such, I consider it my responsibility to be one of the people that engages the ones everyone else is talking about launching into the sun. We don’t have that option, and someone has to do it. I know that much from my research. They are human, just like me, and afraid. Someone has to be willing to meet them where they are, and try to show them more humanity.

                3. pancakes*

                  @MastersResearch, I haven’t seen anyone here talk about launching anyone into the sun. Not wanting to work alongside someone who’s a bigot or who threatens violence isn’t on par with wanting them to be put to death. If people in their own day-to-day lives aren’t taking the opportunity to have the positive interactions you describe with them, and remain silent when they express bigotry out of desire to avoid confrontation, what then? The bigot or the threatener winds up thinking their bigotry or their threats are more socially acceptable than they in fact are. This phenomenon seems quite common in the US — people with extreme political positions on certain issues very often believe their views are more widespread than years & years of polling reliably indicates.

            2. Emi.*

              I disagree, not because of any particular sympathy for bigots (although I have my doubts that I would agree on the definition with everyone who wants to go emailing bosses), but because I don’t think “losing your livelihood, probably your health insurance, and very possibly your shelter” belongs to the category of things that can be deserved. And it’s a bad precedent to deliver more control over workers into the hands of capital.

              1. Just Visiting*

                Yes. This person could literally DIE because of what the OP did if they lose their health insurance and can’t find another job or afford coverage. You don’t do that without a damn good reason and a murkily-written threat against people who call other people trailer trash (or so it seems) ain’t it. Using the lingo that people who act this way use, a lot of you need to “check your privilege.”

                P.S. “I’d like to shoot that guy” is a common saying in many/most parts of the US and is no indication that the speaker has a gun.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Which is why I said the OP shouldn’t have reported this – she has no context for how the conversation went down. Hell, even here in the comments, no one can tell if it was a cashier who called a customer “trailer trash,” which then caused the Facebook poster to sound off, if the poster was the one who said it, etc. We don’t know if the Facebook poster is a bigot or not, so this entire thread is outside of the scope of the letter.

                  But I stand by what I said about actual bigots – as a black woman in America, f*^k a racist. I don’t care what happens to their asses and whether they starve because they come out of pocket and say something racist online and get fired – they deserve it. Next time, maybe they’ll learn to keep their shit to themselves.

                2. pancakes*

                  You don’t think there’s a pretty big difference between “I’d like to shoot that guy” and “if someone does or says _______ to me I will shoot them”? I do. We don’t know exactly what was said here but it seems to resemble the latter more than the former.

          3. Kitty*

            There’s always a middle ground, and context matters.

            I think the real problem with 2019 is that most of us are eager to jump to an extreme, polarized position in the interest of pushing our values. The constructive conversation always lies in the middle.

            1. Joielle*

              What IS the middle ground, though? I keep seeing people say this, but not giving specifics. I think we all know that Facebook and the police wouldn’t have done anything. So the options are… do nothing (which is bad), report to the person’s employer (which is bad), or… what?

              I sincerely can’t think of any action that would appropriately straddle the line between “do something about bigotry” and “oh not that, that’s too much.”

              1. MarsJenkar*

                Golden mean fallacy, I wager. Sometimes the best solution is NOT in the middle, but is actually one of the two extremes, or at least is heavily weighted toward one side or the other. I suspect that may be the case here.

                1. Kitty*

                  I had to look up the golden mean fallacy – interesting! I’ll be sure to use it at my next cocktail party.

                  I think a lot of measured thought needs to go into a decision before an extreme is chosen and acted on. In my mind, middle equals that impulse to look at all options and info before making a choice.

              2. fposte*

                I think this case is more complicated because I think the OP misunderstood the situation and that the person she reported for prejudice wasn’t actually the one demonstrating prejudice. However, the FB poster threatening to shoot somebody could have spoken to that person in the moment instead of posting online about shooting them, for a start. Or called the police if they were creating a disturbance. Or said to whoever the ranter was yelling at “I’m sorry; that’s not okay. Take as much time as you need and ignore the jackass.”

                However, I think the ground with the most purchase usually comes from people with some affiliative status with the offender. That’s why women are saying that men who simply don’t harass or abuse women are fine, but they’re not actively helpful–what’s helpful is when somebody who’s presumed to agree with misogyny says, “Uh, no. That’s not right.” When people you already feel virulently opposed to condemn you for your beliefs, it tends to strengthen them; when people you consider to be like you say “Whoa, that’s not okay,” you’re likelier to pay attention.

              3. Genny*

                In this particular instance, why not try having a conversation with the person? More broadly, focus on addressing the instances of bigotry we see among those close to us and ourselves. People are generally more likely to change problematic behavior when someone they know calls them out on it (and that can take many different forms) than when a stranger does the same.

                1. natto bean jean*

                  Yeah, no. Not saying this is the case here, but for example: often people tell me that as a woman I ought to just be ~NiCeR~ and ~CaLmLy DiScUsS~ when a man is obviously being sexist. As if someone who fundamentally believes that women are stupider and just generally less human than men would actually ever listen and respect anything that comes out of a woman’s mouth. It’s a Sisyphean task being asked of an already marginalized group member.

                2. Genny*

                  It’s certainly your prerogative not to engage with people, especially people who aren’t likely to change. Handle those people in whatever way makes sense for your health and safety.

                  However, that doesn’t change the fact that people generally are more likely to change their mind when challenged by someone close to them. It’s not about tone policing; it’s about building relationships with people and holding them accountable for bad behavior.

                  That’s something we can all do, not just those of us in marginalized groups, and it’s one of the best ways to counter bigotry and other harmful behaviors in the long-run. It’s not splashy, there’s rarely an immediate change, and it can be exhausting, but it also gets better results than either doing nothing or taking extreme, sometimes counter-productive measures to address bigotry.

              4. another scientist*

                We don’t actually know whether OP contacting the employer destroyed that person’s life. I find that pretty far-fetched to be honest. We’ve also had one or two posts on here where this specific situation (my employee’s social media has been brought to my attention/my social media use has been reported to my employer) was discussed and it does not automatically result in firing someone, depending on whether the comment would potentially damage business, anger clients, or show some egregious bias that would cloud the employee’s judgement in a position of power.
                I’d say a death threat is pretty serious, but we don’t know if and how the employer acted here, especially since the wording is so ambiguous.

        2. Kiwiii*

          But it’s not sabotage. It’s letting an employer know of a horrible, violent thing their employee threatened. It’s looking out for public safety.

          1. Madge*

            This. As an employer, I would want to know so I could keep an eye out for other unhinged behavior. This isn’t the same as blurting out something stupid and wishing you could take it back. She took the time to write out her violent thought and never thought maybe she should delete it. That’s incredibly poor judgment. Assuming she does own a gun, that type of comment and attitude from gun owners is a HUGE part of the US gun violence problem.

            Gun violence has to be taken seriously. I don’t even know how many people have been shot to death in my hometown of St. Louis this year. I lost count somewhere around a dozen children alone.

          2. Not Me*

            But the police are responsible for public safety, not your employer (unless of course you work for the police department).

            1. JM60*

              The police are responsible for public safety, but also an employer has a vested interest in maintaining a safe workplace. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

              1. Not Me*

                I didn’t say they were. If you have a genuine concern for public safety the local police are the best people to handle that, not the persons employer. In the example in the OP (which I think is a poor example for the question actually posed) if the concern about the post was “this person is a physical danger to others” that should go to the police. If the concern is “would this person’s employer be ok with an employee saying this?” that should go to the employer.

                1. JM60*

                  “if the concern about the post was “this person is a physical danger to others” that should go to the police.”

                  The employer would also have a reason for wanting to know too. The threshold for also telling their employer is higher than just telling the police, but telling the police and telling their employer about a safety concern isn’t mutually exclusive.

          3. Essess*

            I agree. This way the employer can verify if that employee has made similar threats to people/coworkers to make sure they don’t do these types of threats in the workplace too.

        3. Roscoe*

          I 100% agree. I posted something similar below. Someone with not great beliefs gets fired for those beliefs, then they are likely to now have a persecution complex, and double down on those beliefs.

          1. Jadelyn*

            So what’s your alternative, then? They just get to keep going as they like with no consequences?

            1. Roscoe*

              I don’t think going to their company is the right call . I think people are so desperate for there to be this “cosmic justice” where if you are a bad person with bad beliefs, then they don’t deserve anything and they want to help that justice along. If their job finds out about this, and they get fired, its fine. I won’t shed any tears for them. But I also don’t think its up to the general public to seek that out. Its not your place to determine those consequences. Let them happen naturally

              1. Jadelyn*

                I’m sorry, but “let the consequences happen ~naturally~” is such a cop-out. It’s how people make themselves feel better about not intervening when they should.

                You’re basically just saying, “Keep your head down and let them get away with it until they slip up and say it to the wrong person.” And I just can’t accept that as a good way of dealing with it.

              2. Bagpuss*

                Do you not think that the employer finding out because someone saw or heard the comment and reported *is* an example of the consequences happening naturally?

                The employer still has to determine what, if any action, to take, it isn’t as though the ‘passer by’ gets to decide the outcome.

              3. goducks*

                A natural consequence of saying hateful things online is that someone might see it and tell your family/friends/employer.

            2. Yorick*

              I think in this case, reporting the post to Facebook was the better option. In some cases, responding to the comment to say that the bigoted statement isn’t cool is a better option.

              I agree with Alison about contacting the employer when the person seems to be bigoted about a population they’re supposed to serve, and that sort of thing.

              1. Jadelyn*

                But FB wouldn’t do anything about it. Many of us have experiences of reporting violent language, racism, homophobia, etc. to FB and FB’s response being basically: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So recommending that people report to FB is basically saying “hey, take this meaningless action that will make you feel like you did something, but without having any actual consequences for the person you’re reporting.”

              2. Turquoisecow*

                Ehh, but Facebook is notoriously lax on upholding its “community standards”. I’m skeptical they’d even take the post down.

          2. Anna*

            This is not a thing. A racist is already a walking talking embodiment of feeling persecuted. “If it weren’t for [insert group here], we would have less [crime, drugs, poor people, any number of social ills] and more [jobs, safety, etc.].” Claiming persecution because they aren’t being catered to is the epitome of white supremacy.

        4. Anna*

          That is not at all true and is used over and over to ignore casual racism and bigotry. If all it takes for one person to turn into a racist is someone reporting their racism or calling it out, that person was already a racist. Period.

          1. Lance*

            This. If they get worse, well, they were going to get worse one way or another; if they can’t handle consequences for their behavior, that’s their issue. Please don’t put the onus on other people on the whole, even if there may be an escalated threat.

        5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          The productive tactic being for everyone to keep their mouth shut, sending the mild racist a message that, at a minimum, no one is complaining, and possibly, everyone is also quietly a racist, and so it is ok to kick their racism up a notch?

        6. JM60*

          But the goal usually isn’t to cure them of their bigotry (which was unlikely to happen anyways), but rather to get them to stop spreading their bigotry. If someone gets fired for spreading racism, homophobia, etc on social media, then perhaps they’ll stop doing that so that they can hold a job.

        7. Cranky Neighbot*

          The goal might not be a bigot’s personal growth process. It might be reducing the violence threat.

          1. Turquoisecow*


            I don’t care if the person learns to be better or whatever. I just want to feel a bit safer in my daily life. If the police or their employer or their coworkers know and can protect themselves, that makes them safer. I don’t care if the potentially violent individual improves, I just don’t want them to shoot anyone.

        8. pancakes*

          I don’t think there’s consensus on the motive being persuading them to be less bigoted. For many people, the motive would be “I don’t want to be around this person” rather than “I want them to be a better person.” Either way, saying racist things on social media under one’s real name or on a work account is self-sabotage. Surely even the dimmest “mild racist” is aware of the risk they’re choosing to take by doing so. Do you think they’re not?

      3. KHB*

        What are the odds that it’s just one, though? Someone who holds a bigoted belief is rarely going to express it just once and never again.

        Our HR director calls this the “potato chip rule” (as in, “you can’t have just one”). Each individual person might see only one instance of the bigotry, but if you put them all together, that’s a pattern. And the only way HR (or anyone else) will know about the pattern is if enough of the individuals speak up.

        1. TL -*

          Uh, people have unexpected bigoted beliefs pop up with no warning all the time. One of my friends uttered the statement “well maybe they already had their quota of white women and if I was X like High-Achieving Friend, I would have gotten in” during grad school applications.

          Another spent a weirdly long sentence trying to convey that their mother’s new Latina friend was an American citizen – the sentence started with, “in the last election, she supported…” so I had already gleaned that she was a citizen and also the underlying assumption that a non-white person needs to be specified as a citizen is hella racist – she didn’t feel the need to clarify for any of the other (white) friends that came up.

          I’ve known both these friends for years. Those statements still came out of nowhere (yes, I called them on it; they’ve called me out on other things too). These aren’t as big as threatening violence, of course, but it definetly doesn’t work like “you bigot hold all bigot beliefs and you non bigot hold none.” It’s way, way, way more complicated than that.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think anyone was suggesting it’s uncomplicated.

            You don’t think it’s possible that people who aren’t the same ethnicity as you have had different experiences with those friends than you have? And that the remarks that surprised you might not surprise other people they’ve met? Unless you’ve accompanied them both at all times I don’t see how you’d be in a position to speak with certainty on that.

            1. TL -*

              I’m pretty sure our mutual High Achieving Friend would have been shocked, yeah, though I’m never going to repeat it to her to find out. HAF is pretty quick to call people out if she thinks they’re being racists. Can’t speak about any other people’s experiences, but that particular friend and I do talk a lot about social issues so when I say “It came out of the blue” I mean “we’ve discussed this issue before, specifically” not “we’ve never broached the subject before.” And she’s also been supported of HAF in ways that do recognize HAF faces professional challenges specific to being X.

              Other friend- very fair point. I haven’t heard much of her opinions beyond the generic “racism/sexim is bad” agreements. Not sure if everyone would be as surprised as I am.

      4. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Honestly, in this day and age where there are mass casualties on a far too regular basis? Yes, one “angry, foolish post” is worth reporting, though possibly not to the person’s employer. I probably would have forwarded something like that to the local PD.

        1. Artemesia*

          The ‘bigoted remark about trailer trash would not have been something I reacted to or reported; the thing that these days notches is up is the gun threat. We don’t ignore that language anymore.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Same. Unless the person making bigoted remarks worked with underprivileged populations in some way. It’s the gun violence threat that makes this A Thing You Shouldn’t Ignore.

          2. Anna*

            Yes to this. “Trailer trash” is classism (and possibly racism, depending), but for sure the threat of violence is the thing that takes this to another level.

          3. Turquoisecow*

            Seriously. I’ve been angry and posted online rants I regretted once or twice, and so have a lot of people. But I have never and would never say “they’re going to be my gunshot victims,” and nor would most people I know. That’s specific and implies the person owns or is considering owning a gun and doesn’t have an issue shooting people.

            Maybe it’s hyperbole. But it’s hyperbole that echoes real life danger that happens every day.

      5. Jules the 3rd*

        It’s the ‘gunshot victim’ part that takes it over the edge into grey territory. I wouldn’t go to a random employer for that bigotry (though if they were a cop or social services, I’d have to think about it hard), but that is a threat of violence.

        Threats of violence do need to be taken seriously, if only to help the threatener understand that it is not acceptable. Most shooters don’t just go from ‘super nice to everyone’ to ‘shot people’ without warning signs, and threatening violence is a big one.

        I think… I would not have sent this to an employer. I have said, ‘that is unacceptable, I am out of here’ (block!) to people on social media for similar bigotry and venting that included similar threats of violence.

        I have not had to deal with a Nazi or random racist, but… I don’t usually go looking for people’s employers, even on their ‘about me’ pages. I got really mad about the Gamergate and Andrew Ng doxxing, and I see this as similar.

        OTOH – in the US, actual Nazis and white supremacists are coming out in public and advocating for people to be killed. That’s hugely different from, ‘I didn’t enjoy this game.’ Yeah, it deserves to be shared. Companies can decide what they want to do with that info. I know one 80ish people tech co that kept on a guy who was racist / sexist / put a bullet on a female coworker’s desk as a threat, right up until he yelled at the owner of the company. It wasn’t an issue until it happened to a white man (and yes, the other stuff was reported / known to mgmt. He wasn’t subtle…).

        Can you believe that we still have to deal with this shit? (No apology for the language!)

      6. Youngin*

        How do you know it’s just one angry foolish post? She can’t see this woman’s previous post history, and if she felt empowered enough to write something like that on a public grocery page who knows what she is writing in her private life. If she is dumb and/or violent enough to threaten someone with something as specific as “you’ll be my next gunshot victim” over a grocery store altercation then I think it is fair to take her seriously and at her word, that woman is obviously unhinged. Her reporting a potentially dangerous situation is hardly her showing her “hatred” and its concerning you think reporting a violent person to the correct authorities makes her hateful. I 100% think a place where we take violent threats seriously is a better place to live than letting any violent quack get away with something they may or may not act on.

        1. Joielle*

          Yep. There’s a higher standard these days for not making threats of violence (even “joking” or “hyperbolic” ones) on social media, and there are consequences for not meeting that standard. If people can learn to not say “bomb” in an airport, they can learn to not say “I’d shoot them” on Facebook.

      7. RedHairDontCare*

        Let’s get real – threatening to murder someone for being annoying at Walmart isn’t just a “foolish post”. It’s a THREAT. Quite frankly, if the person who was complained about was an adult then they deserve whatever repercussions come their way for being an ugly person. We all know that the things we post online can be looked at by our employers. I know for a fact mine goes over staffs social media on the regular and there have been consequences for people who post inappropriate things. And considering how simple it seemed to be for the LW to find the persons employer to connect with, it’s likely that the employers name was on the persons social media. Would you want your company connected to someone making threats to shoot up a Walmart? I wouldn’t.

      8. geopanda*

        > their hatred justifies yours

        Yes. While in this case, I wouldn’t have bothered to report it to the employer or the police, in general, if someone hates me, I will hate them back. I’m not a doormat. I’ll leave that up to the pacifist fools.

      9. Lunita*

        Equating hatred of racism to racism itself is not a fair comparison. I think this society is way too lenient with casual racism and it’s unfair to those that are impacted by said racism.

    2. Miss Fisher*

      This is such a hard thing right now, because certain people in power are doing the same with no consequences, so everyone else who feels the same is using that as an excuse to do the same. Social Media has been a huge curse in some ways because people on both sides are using it to spew hate. I don’t necessarily think it should be reported to their jobs, but there are definitely some employers who would like to know their employees aren’t ruining their companies reputation by spewing such messages while also promoting their workplace.

      1. Emi.*

        I wonder about how much it actually affects the company’s reputation. If the person isn’t a very high-up manager or some type of spokesperson it wouldn’t reflect on the company at all in my mind. Do people actually form their opinions of corporations out of the Facebook comments the people those companies employ to bag groceries or fix the router?

        1. Miss Fisher*

          I think it can depend on how widespread the post goes on social media. This one probably not so much, but we have seen time and time again this year especially the people being caught on video or posting something and it being spread all over with people calling on the person’s company to let them go or boycott the company etc. I think this was more so in the particular cases about the guy was threatening to call immigration because people were speaking another language in line behind him. Or the cases where people were calling cops on POC for basically existing.

        2. CynicallySweet*

          I will say that when I’m looking for a new job I’ll type the employer into facebook just out of curiosity. Anyone who has that employer listed will pop up. I’m not saying one employee espousing this stuff would necessarily cause a problem for me personally (depending on the size of the co). But if enough do (or it’s violent enough), then yeah I’m out. And I will say someone threatening to shoot someone who insults them would probably be a big ole pause for me…I can’t be the only person who does this

        3. Yorick*

          Well, maybe. If you see a bunch of racist posts from Walmart employees, are you going to start going to Target instead? Some people might.

        4. goducks*

          My comfort with the idea of exposing bigots to their employer has nothing to do with what I think of the employer, and everything to do with the fact that the bigots co-workers shouldn’t be subjected to the ways that a bigot moves through the workplace. Do they manage/hire/discipline people? Certainly their bigotry colors their decisions. Do they simply exist as a co-worker? In what ways are their attitudes harming their fellow employees?

        5. geopanda*

          Honestly, it kinda does. I’m not a sales rep by any means, but the company I work for also employs a lot of sales reps, that travel around the country (US) selling our products. They are expected to have squeaky clean social media feeds. Even their personal feeds are expected to be clean. There are several written policies to this effect. It would be easy for a customer to think, “I have a meeting with Sales Rep Jane Doe tomorrow, let me google her…” The customer could google “Jane Doe [our employer’s name]” and if they find a bunch of racist screeds, I’m 99% sure they wouldn’t want to do business with us or buy our products.

      2. Mike C.*

        It’s not an issue of “both sides spewing hate”, it’s the case that groups who have long suffered unjust harm are now able to easily speak out in a way that others can see. Yeah, it’s not “polite”, but that shouldn’t be a requirement.

    3. fposte*

      I’m not 100% sure the post even involves bigotry. The post is upset that the person in line was screaming at customers–it’s on the side of the “trailer trash,” IOW the customers being screamed at. I think there’s a decent likelihood that the screamer used the phrase “trailer trash” and the social media post the commenter reported just had a quote fail.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Same. I took it as someone in the store–I read it as another customer–had a meltdown about ‘trailer trash.’ Probably involving the 10 items or less line, from my experience in grocery stores. And everyone around had to listen to them and feel uncomfortable and possibly be delayed because someone had to have their gross rant.

      1. Eillah*

        I think I went too broad in responding to the phenomenon in general rather than how that particulary phenomenon plays out in this post. Mea culpa.

      2. Jungkook*

        Just because “trailer trash” was used in their post all the crazies are out saying this person is a bigot and deserves to be fired. That sounds like foaming at the mouth hatred to me.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s a pretty extreme comment in its own right, though. Nobody’s foaming at the mouth; we’re just all offering opinions.

        2. Artemesia*

          no they are saying that because the poster suggested she would shoot someone like that, that people are foaming at the mouth. In a country where shooting kids is okay but regulating guns isn’t, foaming at the mouth is all we’ve got.

        3. Moray*

          Gosh, it’s like these ‘crazies’ think that in addition to racism, it’s also bad to be disgustingly prejudiced against a socioeconomic group…

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think there’s any racism mentioned in the post, though, and it’s not even usefully clear whether the person talking about having a gun made the comments that are prejudiced against a socioeconomic group.

            1. Yorick*

              I think it’s almost clear that the commenter DIDN’T make a comment that was prejudiced against a socioeconomic group. I think OP might have had a quick reaction to the words “trailer trash.” Unless the paraphrasing didn’t capture the meaning of the message well.

              1. fposte*

                Yes, I think the OP misunderstood (though there’s another reading below where the commenter is one-upping the person in line, not disagreeing with them; however, I don’t think that’s as likely).

                And I think how much it matters is kind of an interesting question. I think probably the comments section and maybe the OP would be less fiery if it were clear that the FB commenter was appalled by the classist insult and was talking about his gun as a response. But should it change the action you’d take about the gun issue?

                1. Ophelia*

                  This exactly – I think there’s enough ambiguity in what happened/who was speaking to refrain from reporting the comment–EXCEPT for the fact that the poster–who maybe works at the store??–was then raising the spectre of shooting people in response to whatever the incident was. IF the poster was the one threatening gun violence, AND the poster works at the store, THEN I would consider sending it to their employer. But I think other commenters’ recommendation to send it to the PD if they feel it’s actually a threat makes more sense here.

              2. geopanda*

                It depends on if there are missing quotation marks. I read it as defending the “trailer trash”, so not bigoted, but if there are missing quotes or as you note, an awkward paraphrase, that changes the meaning.

        4. Zillah*

          This comment is gross and glosses over the main concern that most people have brought up: gun violence.

        5. Lunita*

          Your comment about “crazies” is disrespectful-just because people have a different opinion than yours doesn’t make them “crazies.” Which is rather derogatory toward those with mental illness as well.

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      The court of public opinion is rarely right a does more harm then good.

      ProJared, “Charlottesville professor” people get this stuff wrong all the time.

      Even the OPs example – bigotry against the poor? No. Sounds to me like the poster identifies with the “white trash” who was being yelled at and responded in kind. I personally felt that the op was policing the poor for not defending themselves more civally. As so.rone who grew up in a poor trailor park these empty death threats are very common expression of anger.

      But hey, one screen shot and no context is all we need for strong opinions right?

      1. Jadelyn*

        Just because “empty” death threats are common, are you saying that makes them okay? Especially in the current climate where we have a mass shooting every couple weeks, I’m not willing to bet my life on it being an “empty” threat.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I should’ve been more specific – one every couple weeks that’s big enough to make national news. There are many more that never get media attention.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          I don’t think it’s ok to try and get a member of a marginalized community fired because they made an empty threat no.

          But that is in essence my issue with the social media mobs, they don’t even deserve the term justice, because they often act swiftly claiming to be the rightous ones while often steamrolling the vulnerable or being willingly ignorant of context to make themselves feel better

          These actions are the “epuaration sauvage” of the modern age and I am strongly opposed.

          1. Zillah*

            But the situation the OP wrote in about is neither trying anyone in the court of public opinion nor whipping up a social media mob.

              1. bonkerballs*

                Sure it is. When you contact someone’s employer because they behaved badly, what are you looking for other than for that person to be fired?

          2. Jadelyn*

            But the point is that there is no way to know whether it’s an EMPTY threat or not. If I knew, with 100% certainty because I had telepathically bonded with the person and verified it myself, that it was an empty threat, I’d probably just call them an asshole publicly in comments on their post and move on.

            But in the current climate, THAT CANNOT BE ASSUMED. And as I said, I’m not willing to risk my life and the lives of everyone that person encounters on a guess that it’s probably just an empty threat.

            You also keep saying that OP was “trying to get them fired” and judging the OP’s actions based on that presumed motivation, but that’s a complete assumption on your part. Unless you know the OP sent it to the employer and said “please fire this person”, you’re assuming motives not supported by evidence. OP said they told the employer “it’s not a good look for your company”, for which there are employer responses ranging from asking the employee to take the post down and think twice about stuff like that in the future, to a formal write-up, to firing. It’s not inherently and automatically torches and pitchforks, “Fire this person now!” That’s a story you’re telling yourself about it, not incontrovertible fact.

            1. Phoenix Programmer*

              That is the result and I tention when you go to someone’s employer. While else would you report to the employer?

              Also, as I stated below, these “treat all words seriously” policies are doing nothing to help and in fact at victimizing the most vulnerable.

              1. Eillah*

                You keep making these vaguely inflammatory, condescending statements without supplying reasons or proof.

                1. Phoenix Programmer*

                  Proof = school shootings aren’t down. Arresting of minors under terrorism charges are up. I can give examples, don’t have a national metadata on the arrests? Just news clippings. Same with the way we can say that racism is more prevlant I the US. now. It’s anecdotal.

              2. Jadelyn*

                So that they’re aware of a potential issue and can handle it however they see fit? Just because you can’t think of any other reasons to contact someone’s employer, doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

                1. Phoenix Programmer*

                  Since I’m not the one advocating contacting an employer and risking them getting fired, why should I come up alternative outcomes for that action?

                  If you have alternatives you hope to achieve by all means lay them out.

                  But don’t claim firing isn’t the goal, in response to a post about hitting bigots in the wallet, and them try and make me responsible for coming up with reasons other then firing that it’s ok to doxx.

                2. Jadelyn*

                  I…literally already did that. But to reiterate: to make the employer aware of a potential problem. So that they can deal with it. HOW they deal with it is up to them. There are things they can do that fall under “dealing with it” that are not just firing the person. I don’t know how much clearer I can be about this.

                  You’re just being combative for no reason at this point. And it’s not “doxxing” if they’ve got their employer listed right there on their public profile, ffs.

            2. Sacred Ground*

              Even if a threat is genuinely empty it’s still a threat and has to be treated as such in the moment.

              Last year somebody walked into a shopping mall near me, dressed in body armor and carrying a replica rifle. His intention was to scare the people in a specific store, his motive personal. Half the city’s police were on the scene in minutes and he was arrested immediately.

              He faced a federal charge of making a terrorist threat. His defense was that he never intended to carry it out. His threat was genuinely empty and the fact that his weapon was fake was hard factual evidence that he never intended to carry out the threat and never even had the means to do so.

              It didn’t matter. The threat itself was the crime, regardless of his intent or ability to carry it out, the intent to scare people (terrorize them) was real. He was convicted and is now in federal prison for at least a decade.

        2. Phoenix Programmer*

          I’m also glad you brought up shootings.

          Let’s look at school shootings. Are they down? No. Are zero tolerance social media/terrorism threat policies widespread and common? Yes.

          Now if we look at the children who are getting suspended/labeled as terrorists at these schools for SM posts are they disproportionately poor or poc or otherwise marginalized? Yes

          So what good is a system that disproportionately hurts the marginalized, doesn’t address the core causes of the violence, and let’s the truly guilty rich aristocrats and special interest groups continue to profit off of the violent system while scapegoating the poor and ruining the future of children before they can even get a start?

          But hey, it feels good to get some random fired because you think they are a bigot and they made an empty threat.

          1. Joielle*

            Wait, what? This has absolutely nothing to do with marginalized kids getting suspended from school. I agree that’s an issue, but what we’re talking about here is adults saying bigoted stuff on Facebook. Reasonable minds can disagree about whether this present case was enough to go to the person’s employer, but don’t jump to a different topic because you don’t have a coherent point on this one.

            1. Phoenix Programmer*

              Same mechanism and thought process, different population.

              Point is treating every post and comment as 100% credible, reportable, and punishable doesn’t make us safer, often hurts the most marginalized.

              Making snap judgements with one out of context comment, photo, or even 3rd hand account and determining your judgement =truth and justice that must be enacted is the problem.

              1. Joielle*

                Ok, but that’s an issue for the employer (in this case) or school administrators (in the case you bring up) – not the OP.

                “Reportable” doesn’t need to meet the same standard as “punishable,” but luckily, OP is not the one meting out punishment on the basis of one Facebook post. They’re not saying their judgment is “truth and justice that must be enacted” – just that they’ve noticed something concerning and want to point it out to someone who might notice a pattern if one exists. Personally, I’d rather err on that side than the other. The question isn’t “does this person deserve to be fired,” but “should OP have said something to the employer or ignored it.”

          2. pancakes*

            “Are zero tolerance social media/terrorism threat policies widespread and common? Yes.”

            No. How is it that you think there’s “zero tolerance” for threats on social media when there are so many people on so many social media platforms subjected to threats that aren’t taken seriously by the platform owners or the police? Women journalists in particular have been given many, many, many examples of threats they’ve received that weren’t even deleted by the platform after being reported. I saw a tweet yesterday, a guy had four examples of menacing Facebook posts that included his wife & kid’s name and the address of their synagogue, and he wasn’t able to get any of those deleted on his 1st attempt, nor on appeal.

      2. VictorianCowgirl*

        It certainly can be enough for a strong opinion if it’s worded very clearly.
        One screen shot of someone threatening to shoot the president would be taken with very strong opinions indeed.

        1. geopanda*

          Because there are special laws about threats against the president. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

      3. NothingIsLittle*

        I think the problem here is that the post is both vague and paraphrased. Because you “grew up in a poor trailer park” where this is a familiar scene, you’re more likely to read it that way and write it off. Someone who’s grown up in an environment where those threats are serious (or even where they’ve never been threatened) is going to respond very differently because the possibility of the threat not being serious hasn’t crossed their mind. You’re being uncharitable without admitting that it’s totally possible for you to be the one who misread the post, since we don’t have the original post or its context. Your last line was uncalled for.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          Yep I’m being uncharitable with little context and making bold conclusions about someone’s character with no due diligence.

          I guess my next step should be to try and get this poster fired for being bigoted against the poor.

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            My point was that you don’t make your argument credible by stooping to that level, instead, I question your judgment before the content of your defense. If that’s how you’d like to behave, you’re absolutely entitled to it, but it just means that you’re more likely to be written off as a lunatic than taken seriously. I’m sorry your panties are in bunch over it.

            1. Phoenix Programmer*

              Name calling aside, your argument that I can’t know the OPs intent and may have misread due to a lack of context, as an argument against my point that sm is vague and lacking context therefore should not be sent to employers is interesting!

              1. NothingIsLittle*

                I think you’ve misinterpreted my post. I didn’t say that you were a lunatic but that the comment in question made you come across that way. I’ve read your comments elsewhere and several of the ones I’ve read seem well reasoned, especially the ones referencing the data on treating every threat as viable. However, many of those comments seem condescending or vaguely hostile. So, my point was not that the comment was vague and therefore you shouldn’t pass judgment on its poster, but that the comment was vague and you shouldn’t pass judgment on the people who interpreted it differently from you which is what you did implicitly when you chose to use language that condescended to others (hint: what I meant by stooping to that level). I meant that you were being uncharitable to the other people on this thread, which I should have made clearer in my response. It didn’t endear you to anyone and lead several people, as evidenced by the thread, to take your argument less seriously. I was trying to point out that you were hurting your own argument by the way you chose to present it.

                Perhaps I should have been clearer that I though including the other side of the argument in your post would make you come across as less hostile, but I’m beginning to suspect that you don’t care at all about how you come across and would rather straw-man other people’s arguments when you don’t have facts to back you up, as you’ve chosen to do here. Again, as I said, you’ve made the choice to do that and you’re entitled to that choice, I just wasn’t sure if it was purposeful.

      4. pancakes*

        What is meant to be the take-away here for those of us who didn’t grow up in trailer parks? It seems like it’s meant to be “don’t be so quick to get upset if one of us threatens to kill you because that’s just how we talk, we probably don’t mean to follow through.” I don’t think it’s at all reasonable or realistic to expect people to feel at ease with that mindset.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          The point is if it don’t involve you, and you don’t have the facts, don’t jump up and call an employer because you think the person was being bigoted.

          If you personally get threatened that is a very different situation.

          It’s not even clear here of the threat poster was reacting because they identified that way or not. And the op turned around and called them bigoted, it’s really not clear. If you don’t have the facts don’t get involved.

          1. pancakes*

            By this standard, the classmates of the kid arrested yesterday in North Carolina would have been out of line in reporting him, since none had all the facts. The facts are still emerging because the investigation isn’t complete yet, of course, but it’s reported that he had multiple guns in his dorm room, had watched videos on how to carry out a mass shooting, and that he admitted to police he’d been planning a shooting for months. Maybe those facts will change as we learn more, maybe not, but if no one took action without all the facts, no one would take action at all. I’m not following as to why you think that’s ideal.

            It seems like you’re backing away from what you said earlier about people who grew up in trailer parks commonly expressing their anger in the form of threatening violence, but I’m not sure. How can I reliably identify whether someone grew up in a trailer park or not? How can I as a bystander to a threat or as the recipient of a threat identify whether someone really means it, by your standards? How would I have a sense of how frequently they threaten violence or whether they’ve ever followed through?

    5. VictorianCowgirl*

      Bigotry vs violence threats aside, I am in absolute and complete agreement with you.
      Society circling the wagons around violent people – as people have done in this comment section – is a big part of what allows the problem to continue.

      1. Kitty*

        I think the comments have strayed far, FAR away from the original question and the original text. We have no idea what the original poster thinks about poor people, if they are violent, all that. Commenters are sticking their values onto an unclear situation on both sides, because that’s what we tend to do now when we comment online about anything.

        1. Zillah*

          I mean… but we know that they made a fairly specific violent comment in an environment where there have been multiple highly publicized mass shootings in public areas in the past few months – and each time, we’ve heard about things like violent comments that no one gave enough credence to.

          Does that mean that they’re violent? No. But I don’t need to know that someone is violent to be concerned for my safety when they start talking about shooting people.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            Honest question – how does getting them fired help you feel safer? What issue does it address or roadblock does it add to enacting violence?

            1. Joielle*

              I dunno, how does doing nothing help you feel safer? There aren’t a lot of good options here, but “ignore it” is clearly a bad choice, so what do you propose?

              1. Phoenix Programmer*

                Ignore it is the right choice for someone you don’t know.

                Address and educate is the right choice for people you know or in person when you have the full context.

                Treating choosing to ignore social media of strangers and not doxx them as the same as standing idly by while witnessing an issue is ridiculous.

                I’ve stood up and educated a coworker making transhpobic comments. We were able to start a dialogue, and over time I got a hater educated and corrected. He was, unsurprisingly, simply misinformed.

                If I saw a post of some stranger emailing their employer does nothing.

            2. Zillah*

              Kitty said that we had no idea if the person in the letter is violent, and I pointed out that we don’t need to know someone will do us harm before we get concerned for our safety.

              1. Kitty*

                Well I think we’re arguing about language now. I don’t KNOW all kinds of things, but I can have an informed opinion based on context. I’m saying there isn’t enough context in this particular case to make a reasonable assumption about safety one way or the other. You can be concerned for your safety for any reason you like, but I think there’s a strong argument to be made that it’s not merited here, and that the writer jumped the gun when they reported to the employer. No pun intended.

                I’m also saying that people have these kinds of knee-jerk reactions all the time, and I don’t think it’s a good idea especially if you are reacting to something from strong emotion.

                1. Zillah*

                  Ahh, thanks for clarifying.

                  I do agree with you re: informed opinions in general; I think where I differ is really based on the specific situation. I do think that regional mannerisms might be relevant here, but for me, really poor judgment is required to type out a comment about shooting someone in a store a few days after a high profile mass shooting in a store – poor enough that I do think it’s reasonable to say “this person is more likely to do this scary thing.”

                  I personally probably would have judged it insignificant enough not to contact someone but significant enough that I’d avoid the area for awhile for my own peace of mind. But I get reacting more strongly than that.

    6. MommyMD*

      I would not report passing bigotry comments. You’d be reporting 24/7. Being a bigot is stupid but not illegal unless illegal actions are taken.

      But violent comments, shooting comments? I’d report my own family.

  3. Detective Amy Santiago*

    It would definitely depend on what kind of work they did. If I saw a post like that by someone who worked in a public capacity of some kind, especially for a charity, that was easily connected to their employer, I would be more inclined to report. Especially if it was a public comment/post that could be seen by anyone.

    1. ACDC*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I probably would have reported it through the social media platform, potentially reported it to the police, and wouldn’t have gone to the employer unless this person worked in public service or something similar.

    2. VERYAnonymous*

      very much this. Obviously, these statements are worrisome. But they would be slightly less worrisome if made by someone who works away from the public. If it was someone who needed to serve the public in some way and faces them in their work? Absolutely worth pointing out to their employer.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Or something like a schoolteacher. As a parent of elementary age kids, that would be a concerning level of anger/self-control issues in a public venue.

      1. MommyMD*

        It’s doubtful someone identifying with “white trash” is a teacher. But I get your point.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Excellent point – I was on the side of “mind my own business” until I read your comment. That could definitely be a game changer.

    5. The Beagle has Landed*

      I came here to say just this. I read this as the poster being an employee. If I were the person’s employer, I would want to know as it might be part of a pattern. If I hear about it once and haven’t seen any indication that the person is unstable and could act on that threat, I might not do anything except have a conversation to find out what is going on. If there are other markers or reports, I would take this very seriously and not gamble with any lives.

      1. Joielle*

        Agreed. The OP doesn’t know anything about this person aside from their concerning comment. It could be nothing, or it could be part of a pattern. If we’re going to err on one side or the other, I’d rather err on the side of giving the info to someone who’s in a position to know more. If the employer does nothing, then fine! But if I’m the employer, I’d rather know than not know.

  4. Fortitude Jones*

    I agree, Alison. This was a bit of an overreaction on the OP’s part. I get it – the El Paso shooting was fresh and OP was concerned – but there are a lot of keyboard gangsters out there that talk a good game, but wouldn’t really do anything in real life. This post seemed like general venting that was a) isolated and b) not really aimed towards any particular person or group, so I would have just shaken my head at the fact that she felt the need to publicize this vent and carried on with my day.

    1. Jennifer*

      The sad thing is 15 years ago I would have been horrified by a comment like that. Now it’s just business as usual. I hate how desensitized we all are becoming to ugly things like this. I agree with you, it’s just that the whole thing is just so sad.

      1. Antilles*

        Having been on the Internet since the days of 14.4 modems, I can assure you that such comments were completely commonplace on the Internet 15 years ago, 20 years ago, 25 years ago.
        The only thing that’s different now is that people are willing to attach their names to it via social media, whereas in 2004, the prevailing theory was that people were being awful online because Normal Person+Anonymity+Audience = Total (Bleep)wad. Turns out that the “anonymity” part of that wasn’t necessary, people are willing to be horrible even on a public Facebook page with their name, photo, job, and company linked to it.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          yeah, this has been really interesting to watch over the years. I personally want to research whether there’s a correlation with road rage.

        2. LawBee*

          Agreed. It was always “normal”. Just a) less anonymity by choice, and b) MORE PEOPLE on the internet.

        3. Quinalla*

          Agreed, the internet has always had these folks, but yes the biggest difference is they are doing and saying these things without any anonymity. I think there are various reasons for that like the culture shifting away from anonymity online and folks in power using bigoted language in public with little to no consequence among others, but this really isn’t new. It may feel new to some folks though as the internet is so much more connected now that comments like this make it into more mainstream areas of the internet much faster. It’s always been in gamer hangouts, etc.

    2. DDS*

      But some people really do this, as we have seen multiple times. Contacting the employer was not the right thing to do. But law enforcement is constantly saying “see something, say something.” A university shooting was very likely just stopped in North Carolina because a classmate heard comments and reported them. Law enforcement found weapons and evidence the student was researching mass shooting. Shaking your head and carrying on is not okay anymore.

      1. Wednesday of this week*

        I have to agree. I don’t think laypeople can determine what is or is not a credible threat. I certainly wouldn’t want that decision, and all potential ramifications, relying on my judgment as I scrolled through Facebook. Err on the side of passing the info on to someone who is qualified to interpret it.

      2. Purrsnikitty*

        I tried looking up that North Carolina example you gave and I’m coming empty. Do you have a link to an article please?

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Then if OP was really concerned, she should have sent the post to the local police department to look into. The employer’s going to do what exactly here?

        1. Zillah*

          This is certainly good advice, but I also think that “should” can be tricky – people don’t always know the best course of action to take, especially when they’re confronted with an unfamiliar situation.

      4. Clorinda*

        Most mass shooters leave a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of violent communication. That doesn’t mean every breadcrumb leads to a potential mass shooter. But how are we to know the difference? I’d err on the side of reporting, probably, but to a police tip line, not the employer.

        1. cmcinnyc*

          Agree. The “only joking” defense got so old it died, and has been buried. You no longer get to joke about shooting people in the US of A.

        2. Isabel Kunkle*

          Yeah, this. I remember news reports about the Dayton guy’s friend who helped him buy the gun and body armor but then claimed he had no idea what was going to happen, like, YOU KNEW HE WANTED A GUN AND BODY ARMOR, FUCKSTICK. CALL SOMEONE.

      5. Quinalla*

        Agreed, reporting this to the police is the right thing to do. I think reporting to facebook is better than nothing, but I have little faith in what happens to facebook reports based on past experience :/

    3. Adalind*

      I hate to agree, but I feel the same. If the comment really didn’t sit well with me, reporting it to the person’s employer would never have crossed my mind. I would have reported to FB police and flagged it for the admin of the FB group to see (which I have done maybe once or twice ever).

  5. Jungkook*

    I wonder what exactly was going through the OP’s head when they decided the best organization to report the post to was the individual’s employer…?

    1. Roscoe*

      Exactly. If OP was really worried, they would’ve gone to the police. The employer could fire them. But then you have an angry out of work person who probably thinks the store reported them. How does she expect that to go

    2. Yvette*

      I wonder also. If you truly feel something poses a violent public threat, you report it to those that deal with public violence.

      1. fposte*

        But the concern here was a violent threat, which is usually a report to the police, not to the manager.

    3. Ramanon*

      OP might live in Texas- if I called the Dallas PD and said that someone was threatening gun violence at my local store, they’d probably just say that hopefully that person shoots more immigrants than the El Paso shooter and hang up on me.

        1. Ramanon*

          Sorry, let me rephrase: I would certainly not trust my local PD to react appropriately to a gun threat because all I’ve heard about El Paso where I live is exactly what I stated above.

            1. Brian*

              Maybe you should complain to the Allen PD, who didn’t take the El Paso shooter’s mother and her concerns seriously.

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            I’m in behind the pine curtain in East Texas, and I haven’t heard anything like what you are describing.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          This doesn’t come across as a stereotype, but rather as Ramanon’s lived experience.

          Police racism is, unfortunately, a lived experience that is not limited to TX, but if that’s where Ramanon is, it’s really fair for them to give the example they know.

          1. LJay*

            I know that having someone at the head doesn’t instantly fix the culture, but the chief of police for Dallas, as well as the last two Dallas sheriffs have been women of color.

            And this didn’t come across a lived experience to me, but hyperbole. She didn’t say, “I tried to report something to Dallas PD and this is what they responded with,” of “I’ve had bad experiences with the local police in the past that have made me weary of contacting them for any reason,” or even, “given that there was a very high profile incidence of an off-duty white cop shooting a black man in his own home here recently I’m not inclined to trust police behavior on gun violence in this area,” she basically said, “I imagine that if I called them, this is what they would say and do” when what she is imagining is highly inflammatory and would likely result in media attention and calls for the cop’s dismissal if it actually did happen.

        3. RussianInTexas*

          Yes, I live in a large city in Texas and this been not my experience either. At least last 2 Chiefs of police in Houston are people of color. HPD refuses to even ask people for their immigration status unless specifically mandated by federal law.

      1. LJay*

        Do you actually live in Dallas or are you just generalizing all of Texas with a broad brush here?

        Though I agree that without actual credible threat information, the police in most of the major cities I lived in would not do much.

        “I have a gun and am headed to the Walmart on Marketplace in Irving” would get attention. “Grr that person was an asshole, if they did that to me I’d shoot them,” would get shrugged off.

      2. Anon consultant*

        Yes, that’s EXACTLY what the Dallas PD would say. Are you kidding me right now? You’re painting Texas and the Dallas PD with a very broad and incredibly biased brush. Do you even recall the Dallas PD officers killed in 2016? Take a big step back.

    4. ooo*

      In response to the replies above: One wrinkle is that a lot of us aren’t comfortable reporting stuff to the police now either. Obviously, if somebody posted a very specific and detailed threat, I’d do so. But if I weren’t sure? I’m much less prone to call the cops on somebody than I would have been a few years ago, because I’m a lot less trusting that law enforcement and the justice system are going to respond proportionally to the offense.

      1. Jadelyn*

        T H I S

        I’m at the point where involving law enforcement is the absolute last resort in any situation. I’m genuinely amazed at how many people in comments here apparently trust cops and would want to involve them in something, ever.

        1. Kitty*

          I’ve worked with several good cops so I can’t agree with you. I’m not fond of comments that generalize about everybody in a group.

          1. Zillah*

            The point being made isn’t that all cops are bad – it’s that too many mishandle situations because of lack of training, malice, or both to take the risk.

            1. Jadelyn*

              This. There are presumably some good cops out there, as there are good and bad folks in every group – but statistically speaking, the odds of fatal escalation shoot way up as soon as you involve law enforcement in a situation. It’s not a moral position to say “It’s risky to involve cops, because the odds are frighteningly high of someone getting unnecessarily killed if you do.” It’s taking a look at the odds and choosing the safest course of action.

          2. Jadelyn*

            Good for you, I guess? But your experiences are not at all universal, many of us have reason to feel otherwise about it, and going all #notallcops #bluelivesmatter on it isn’t going to change most people’s minds.

            1. Kitty*

              I disagree, but glad we can have a sort of non-snarky conversation about this Jadelyn. Good for us, I guess?

              1. Jadelyn*

                Hey, you’re the one who decided that #notallcops was advancing the conversation here. And really, can we call this a conversation when you’re not addressing the actual points Zillah and I have made?

                1. Kitty*

                  Glad you took the time to chime in, Geopanda! Was worried I wouldn’t hear from you on this. <3

                  Ok let's go for it. What would you or Zillah do if your child was kidnapped? If your business was vandalized? If you noticed a violent #hatecrime happening on the street in front of your house?

                  I am sure you and everyone has reasons for everything, and including jumping on the hashtags to beat down a commenter who disagrees with you. But the reality is that a lot of good people have dedicated their lives to helping people like you, within the constraints of a broken police system. Many of them are actively fighting to fix that system! They deserve respect, not comparisons to incels and b.s. simplifications y'all are trying to pull here with your internet outrage.

                  Let's see if Allison lets this one through. :) Time for my weekend.

          3. Crivens!*

            It’s not like when I call 911 I can say “and please only send a good cop who won’t murder someone for having darker skin than they do”.

          4. A*

            Yup. This is a good example of one of the primary reasons I left law enforcement. I never expected to be thanked – but ultimately I couldn’t stomach the fact that I was literally risking my life at work, only to come home and be tormented by the public. As in, slushies thrown at my cruiser when I’m on the way home, being called a pig, being told my life’s work is BS, I sold my soul, I must hate anyone that isn’t a white male etc. etc. etc.

            After losing several of my immediate team mates to a drive by shooting, I phased out. I was fully on board with the risk – but not in combination with the hate. And what’s sad is that I joined specifically to try and create change from the inside out. I will never blame someone for being mistrustful of law enforcement in this day and age, but most officers really do care. I fully support the movement to increase accountability in law enforcement and weed out the bad apples (which I will be the first to admit definitely exist), but not when it extends to everyone/most in the field.

            Unless of course it’s coming from first hand experience on the inside. But I have yet to meet anyone in that field of work who feels the majority of officers are ill intended, or prone to brutality or bigotry.

            1. ooo*

              I absolutely believe that most officers care. And having had some professional contact with police, I think one thing that doesn’t get touched on enough is how much of an officer’s job consists of dealing with giant assholes — not necessarily dangerous people, but the ones who are disturbing other people or fucked-up on something or just being dicks. You can correct me if I’m wrong about that; it’s what I was told by a couple of longtime police, who said the result is that you come home from work just pissed off and down on the world. I often wonder how much that contributes to problems with police violence, and I think we need to talk more as a society about ways to ameliorate that.

              That said, it’s also clear that the big problems in law enforcement — racism and accountability — are systemic, which makes it really hard to feel good even about police who care. Because as hard as it must be to do in practice, there has to be more vocal and visible pushback from within police departments against police culture as it stands today. You see stuff like the tweet yesterday from the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association — and there seem to be SO MANY police union tweets like this, it’s nuts — and get the sense that police overall are not interested in being subjected to serious oversight: https://twitter.com/SBANYPD/status/1166693523871191040

            2. soon 2be former fed*

              Bad apples would be easier to weed out if there was no blue wall of silence. Cops know who the bad cops are.

            3. Jadelyn*

              For the record, law enforcement doesn’t even make the top 10 list of jobs where you’re risking your life. As of 2018, it tied with power line maintenance workers for 14th.

              Re bad apples…you know where that comes from? The full saying is “one bad apple spoils the bunch”. So there may be only a few bad apples…but what you’re seeing is the effects of those bad apples spoiling it for everyone. That’s who you ought to resent, not the people who are safer when they assume the worst of all cops and for whom extending benefit of the doubt could be fatal.

              1. Zillah*

                Yeah. I’m very sorry for your loss, and I’m not saying there aren’t asshole privileged kids who trust the police acting out just because they can, but a lot of the hostility and fear comes from…

                Like, even if we’re going to be irrationally optimistic and say 95% of cops are well-trained to handle difficult situations and aren’t bigoted in any way, those 5% of cops don’t make up 5% of the interactions vulnerable people have with law enforcement. They make up a lot more, because those bad apples are targeting those vulnerable groups.

                1. pancakes*

                  Another thing is that nearly all US police departments are very, very secretive about disciplinary complaints and whether any action was taken or not, and when the press or an advocacy group does get its hands on disciplinary records, there are invariably cops with long, long records of questionable, violent, or deadly interactions with civilians. Why fight transparency around this so hard if the officers are mostly being trained properly, doing their jobs properly, and are disciplined properly when they don’t? We can all see why.

            4. Anita Brayke*

              I’m so sorry that happened to you. I believe the vast majority of officers are good; and there are some bad seeds, like in any profession. Thank you for caring about humanity enough to do that job. I’m so sorry you lost your friends and coworkers. Hugs.

          5. Penny Parker*

            The problem is that the good police get fired for standing up to corruption, and the rest of the police protect the abusive police by standing for the “thin blue line”. In my opinion this means ANY police officer is probably a bad cop because even if they are not the one abusing the citizens they are at a minimum protecting those who ARE abusive. If police start arresting those who are abusive and kill people then I will support them, but they do not. As a child I was taught to judge them by their uniform, and I continue to do so even though now I see them all as either evil or else willing to protect the evil their fellow officers commit!

        2. A*

          I worked in law enforcement for a while, and I completely agree with (and support) the movement for greater accountability in the field – and 100% recognize that police brutality and corresponding issues are real and a threat to our society. However I also know from personal first hand experience, that the majority of officers really do care and want to help. The bad apples NEED to be rooted out, but they are the minority. Do I trust law enforcement in every situation for every person? No. Do I trust that they will assess the situation if I submit a non-emergency tip about a social media post? Yes.

          I’m sorry you are so mistrustful of cops, and certainly can’t blame you, but I also don’t think you should be surprised that others do trust them. We all have different experiences and exposures. Generalizing any particular group of people is not my jam. I hope we get to the point one day where none of this has to be debated, because for the most part we all want the same thing.

          1. soon 2be former fed*

            See my above comment. If good cops don’t want to be painted withe same brush as bad cops, stop covering for them.

          2. Penny Parker*

            “We all have different experiences and exposures.” — Correct. And some of those who are cop-defenders need to STOP defending the murdering thugs. How many police officers did you catch misbehaving, and how many fellow officers did YOU report for abusing the citizens? If you are not a part of the solution then you are most truly a part of the problem!

        3. geopanda*

          Same. Especially for something like this. The police laugh off actual crimes, where I live. They won’t do anything about this.

          I grew up thinking the police were akin to Gods. Not true.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, I’m surprised that a lot of people here think going to the police is LESS harmful than going to the person’s employer. The employer is in a better position to know if there are any other red flags.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      “Hey company, you have an employee who isn’t able to manage their anger responsibly, by inference owns a gun, and directly threatened to use it on someone in disproportionate response to a verbal confrontation.”

      It might be borderline but given the rise of workplace violence, I think it’s reasonable that it fell into OP’s “see something, say something” threshold. People who are angry but in control of themselves don’t immediately resort to gun threats. Let the employee explain to their employer that “no no, I was just joking about shooting someone for yelling.”

      Incidentally, I’m guessing my community is far more aware of the guy who threatened to pull a gun on speeding teenage drivers than the drivers themselves. The drivers are being reported to the police as they should be, no one should threaten to play vigilante just because they own a gun.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I don’t disagree with the “see something, say something” idea. The question is who are you saying something TO and why? There are people who’s job it is to deal with threats like this (police, FBI, Facebook moderators). The angry person’s employer is not on that list.

        If we’re just going to go all vigilante and notify everyone in the person’s orbit in the name of public safety then where does it end? Should we go through the person’s friend list and notify all of them? Find out what church they go to and notify the pastor? After all, all of those categories have been victims of violence as well.

        1. Zillah*

          No one said anything about notifying “everyone in a person’s orbit” – you’re describing a slippery slope that does not exist for the purposes of hyperbole.

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            No, I am making a point that there are appropriate people to notify about such things and inappropriate people. And that once you’re in the “inappropriate” camp there is no moral difference between notifying one and notifying the other. What evidence do we have that the person is more dangerous to their coworkers than they are to their church? Why would you choose one over the other? That’s why there are professionals whose job it is to handle exactly these sorts of things.

            1. Zillah*

              I don’t really have a whole lot of faith in the professionals whose job it is to handle these sorts of things. Some are competent and responsible human beings; many have not received appropriate training to deal with situations like this and/or they’re actively bigoted/malicious. That doesn’t mean an employer is any better, but I still think that it’s important to push back on the idea that law enforcement will handle these sorts of things appropriately.

              I think that an employer is a more appropriate party to notify than someone’s entire friends list.

      2. Jadelyn*

        This is where I come down on this. I actually think the OP’s response was reasonable. What if OP hadn’t said anything, and then a few days later the person actually did bring a gun to work and start shooting coworkers? I feel like the potential cost of not speaking up is much higher than the potential cost of speaking up.

        And while many people are saying OP should’ve reported it to the police, NOT the employer, that presupposes that the local PD will actually respond appropriately. Which is not something that can always be assumed. I trust my local PD about as far as I could throw them – including their building.

        1. Baru Cormorant*

          This is where I come down, and honestly I don’t understand the problem with reporting this to the employer or the police.

          If someone threatened to shoot people at work, I say tell the cops, tell their employer, if you know their mother tell her, tell everyone you know because this person is a threat. I don’t care if they’re “talking $hit,” that’s a threat and this is why we warn people. Yes often police don’t deal with situations appropriately, but they are also who you call when a violent crime is imminent.

          I think it speaks to the inured exhaustion with gun violence in America that people are more concerned about police brutality or protecting free speech than stopping a mass shooting.

            1. Baru Cormorant*

              Are you trolling, or do you not know what constitutionally-defined free speech is? It’s freedom to dissent from the government, not freedom to spout hate or threats on a company platform with no consequences.

              And if you still think that that is more important than stopping mass shootings, well, that is why the US is the only developed country with this problem.

            2. pancakes*

              You don’t think the 4th amendment has any bearing on the sort of law enforcement activities that come into play when police are investigating threats of violence? Or investigating anything at all, for that matter? Constitutional law professors would probably find this highly idiosyncratic theory very interesting.

      3. VictorianCowgirl*

        This post was a threat of gun violence, and that crosses the line of “what you do outside of work shouldn’t impact your job”.
        My only issue with OP’s actions were that the police weren’t also notified.

    6. PB*

      Like someone else mentioned, it’s a trend that has become common as a way to battle bigots who work in public service, etc but then like to spread hate in their free time

      But I also think as younger folks are growing up and into the internet, it’s honestly not hitting them quite yet that there’s no Authority you can go to in order to tell on someone; they’re used to living life on blast and having quick retribution using the tides of opinion. So they’re defaulting to telling people’s bosses as Parental Replacements.

      It’s very much the “who has authority over this person, that I can tell” kid-thinking

      1. Anax*

        Honestly, not sure I agree with that. I’ve seen a lot more young people engaging in callouts and PSAs – “hey, everyone, share this, Bob is a dangerous racist and here’s salacious details!”

        I’d be curious to see how those demographics break down.

        (Tumblr had a LOT of this, frequently spearheaded by teens – which had its own set of very messy issues, of course. A LOT of people were accused of being pedophiles, for things like “enjoying the canonical romance between two cartoon adults who happen to be short”, or “interacting in any way with minors, up to and including ‘reading their public blog’.”)

        1. Yorick*

          I think PB was saying that young people are doing the callouts – just that they’re not children anymore.

        2. Kitty*

          There’s a sort of related book that talks about this phenomenon called “So you’ve been publicly shamed.” It’s pretty good!

      2. Joielle*

        See, and to me, it just seems like people in older generations were more willing to give a pass to people behaving badly in public. Younger generations have figured out that you can’t sweep that kind of thing under the rug, cops can’t be trusted, so who’s left? The court of public opinion, or the person’s employer. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that people are facing consequences for their actions!

        1. A*

          I think the internet has a lot to do with that, not necessarily a change in generational moral compasses.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I think it’s a realm where we don’t worry as much about discomfort that would have mattered to us in a face to face situation. Which presumably is why the FB poster went to FB rather than saying anything to the person in the grocery store (okay, I don’t know that they didn’t say anything, but generally a rant is instead of, not in addition to).

            1. geopanda*

              > Which presumably is why the FB poster went to FB rather than saying anything to the person in the grocery store

              Or maybe that’s because, you know, they were at work and didn’t want to confront a customer. Good way to get fired.

    7. Caramel & Cheddar*

      So many police departments are absolutely ill equipped to deal with literally anything that starts out online. There are so many people who have gone to the police when they themselves have been threatened online and the police are like “What exactly is it that you’d like to us to do about it?” Faith that the police care about this stuff seems pretty optimistic most of the time.

      1. Genny*

        It’s not even a matter of caring. Oftentimes, the law hasn’t caught up to technological advances, so police don’t have any authority to act on something (or the authority they have is relegated to traditional law enforcement tools that may or may not necessarily be useful to an online threat).

      2. A*

        This is true, although I disagree with the last bit. At least in my personal first hand experience working in law enforcement, I and everyone I worked with cared – deeply. We also recognized the importance and severity of online threats. Unfortunately we did not have the staffing resources, or legal authority, to pursue them to the extent we thought we should be able to.

        The internet is still very, very new – and it will take a long time for legal precedent to exist to the point where law enforcement is even able to get involved prior to it escalating to physical behavior. This is a policy & legislation issue.

  6. Jennifer*

    I agree that it doesn’t rise to the level of something that needs to be reported to someone’s employer. This doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to be friends with IRL, but neither do most people on Facebook.

  7. Roscoe*

    I think that if you are actually worried about safety, or even if you aren’t worried but just want to be cautious, police are the people to report something to.

    Personally, the only time I’d actually report someone based on a social media post would be if its a situation where they are filming at work and mocking people or something. Like I read a story somewhere about a gym employee filming an overweight person on a machine and mocking them. That would be fair game. Or I saw something where a teacher took a picture of a kid (blurred face) and mocked them. Again, that is fair. Aside from that, I don’t.

    I just personally am of the mind that people can have horrible opinions and still be great at their job. And honestly, what does that really do. So you get a person who has a horrible opinion fired for having that opinion, and they just kind of double down on that opinion because now they are being punished for it.

    That said, I have no problem boycotting a business if the owner or management is posting bad things through the official business account, or if they are involving their business in one of their personal posts.

    1. Jennifer*

      +1 I think that the fact that she reported it to the employer instead of the cops shows she didn’t think it was a real threat. If she really thought this person was headed to the grocery store with a gun, she would have called the police AND probably the store if she knew which one they were referring to.

    2. VictorianCowgirl*

      I am utterly flummoxed that a threat of gun violence is not as dire in your opinion as someone making fun of someone else.

      1. Roscoe*

        It is dire. I said she should call the police, if she felt it was a real threat. The fact that instead of going to the police, she decided to send an email to the employer (which who knows who or when they will see it) shows that they weren’t concerened about the violence aspect.

      2. Arctic*

        The distinction being made is related to work or not. Reasonable minds can disagree on that. But it certainly wasn’t saying mocking someone is worse than gun violence.
        A genuine threat of violence should be reported to the police.

      3. Baru Cormorant*

        I am equally flummoxed. “One of your employees has threatened to bring a gun to work and shoot people.” How is this not worth telling the employer about.

    3. DashDash*

      I agree that calling someone out very publicly and it having that effect can cause a lot of shame for the person with abhorrent views, and shame tends to lead to worse behavior, but the idea isn’t that we can fix how they think; we CAN show them that it’s not ok to voice those opinions everywhere.

      I more wanted to ask you a bit about the idea that people can have horrible opinions and still be good at their job – would you be able to agree that, for a lot of jobs, that’s not the case? Even someone who is working to improve diversity in their field is prone to bias they aren’t aware of; wouldn’t someone who DEFINITELY has a bias they are not only aware of, but cling to and make judgments from it, not be able to be great at a job that requires listening to all races equally? Could a manager really be a great manager if they’re sexist, but do the rest of their job well? There are some places where “just don’t voice that stuff” might let them still be good in their jobs, but any job that requires a lot of interaction can’t be done well by someone who chooses how to interact with people based on what they look like.

      1. Roscoe*

        I think it absolutely depends on the job. But an asshole homophobe could still be a great brain surgeon. A raging sexist can still be a good defense lawyer. A racist can be a great construction worker. I’d also that even in management, you can look past your biases if you make the effort to do so. Am I saying a racist should be teaching in underprivileged neighborhoods? Absolutely not. But I think to just assume that if anyone has “bad” views that they clearly can’t be good at any job is also ridiculous.

        1. Jadelyn*

          An asshole homophobe can be a great brain surgeon…unless you’re the gay nurse who has to work with him, or the gay patient he provides substandard care to.

          A raging sexist can be a good defense lawyer…unless you’re a woman accused of a crime and he’s defending you, or you’re the female prosecutor who has to put up with him, or you’re a female judge he doesn’t respect.

          A racist can be a great construction worker…unless you’re his Latino coworker, or his Af-Am boss.

          The problem is that when people have awful beliefs, they tend to leak out even if the job the person is doing isn’t directly related to their biases.

          1. AMT*

            Yep. Even if a bigoted healthcare provider doesn’t say anything bigoted around me, I know that their bias has the potential to royally screw things up in a way that I might not even know about. I’d rather the hiring committee see the red flags and put them out of the running before they have that chance.

            1. fposte*

              I’d largely agree when it comes to the egregious homophobe, but I think making it about any degree of bias is both optimistic about how untouched we all are by bias and risky in light of the substantial reduction of health care providers that it would result in. I don’t want to be operated on by the asshole homophobe either, but if my alternative is a 200 mile ambulance ride, I might have a different opinion.

        2. Permanently Exhausted Pigeon*

          Maybe they can be great at particular tasks, but I’m skeptical about a whole job being unaffected by truly horrible opinions.

          Sure, the homophobic surgeon can be excellent at operating on brains, but they can still be a terrible healthcare provider. Medicine is tricky in the way that subconscious biases can lead to substandard care at best, and actively-held bigoted views can seriously harm patients.

          So yeah, maybe the surgeon has extra steady hands and superhuman precision, but if they hold sexist, racists, homophobic, etc beliefs (even subconsciously!)–if they believe that their female patients are hysterical and exaggerating their symptoms, or that black people have higher pain tolerances and don’t need as much medicine, or that queer people don’t deserve STD treatments because they brought it on themselves? Not a good surgeon, not a good doctor, not a good care provider.

          Even the most considerate physicians will need to continuously examine personal bias to avoid further perpetuating existing health disparities, and competent care or implicit bias trainings can be offered as professional development to help with that. But physicians with enough belief in those biases to be an asshole homophobe (or racist, or sexist, or whatever) publicly, like in a grocery store or even online, are not likely to self-select in or take those trainings seriously, and employers need to be made aware so they can decide what appropriate action may be in order to protect patients. Maybe they just need a firm discussion or the training to be mandated, but maybe they need to be removed from patient care and put in a research or education role, but the manager/employer/professional association is the only one that can put that puzzle together.

          Even with the construction example, racism doesn’t preclude a person from being good at building things, sure, but when that racism is expressed it could harm coworkers and client relationships, jeopardize project funding, etc.

          I’m struggling to come up with jobs that would be completely unaffected by bias–even removing careers with customer/client/patient interaction for things like idk..data entry? blinded bench research? stocking shelves? Team productivity, coworker safety, and equitable access can still come into play, so these people may still be excellent at specific tasks without actually being good at their job as a whole.

    4. AMT*

      I don’t agree with the idea that punishing bigotry makes people double down on their bigotry. That’s a perennial excuse to coddle bigots, who continue to feel comfortable spreading bigotry when it doesn’t lose them friends, jobs, or business. Social censure and real-world consequences fight create an important disincentive.

      1. Que Syrah Syrah*

        I used to think this way too, but honestly, when I really reflect on what I’ve seen happen in real life…I have never seen anyone respond to being punished for their bigotry with anything else other than doubling down. Shame does not work on humans. It just doesn’t. Most studies do show that it’s not a good motivator and it doesn’t change hearts and minds – it just makes people dig their heels in more. I honestly have started to wonder if it’s not biologically wired as a survival instinct and really can’t be overwritten.

        On the flip side, coddling bigotry and being “nice” doesn’t change hearts and minds. So…I honestly have no idea how we fix the problem. If neither calling out nor coddling works, does anything stand a chance of working, ever? Or do we just accept that as a species, we’re kind of effed? Ugh. I hate thinking about it.

        1. geopanda*

          I mean, I was shamed into not hating LGBT people. I grew up hating them for religious reasons (inb4 “no religion teaches that”, because you know that ain’t so) and went to college making statements that were openly hateful. My classmates called me a disgusting pig and wouldn’t talk to me because of how much I would bring it up. Eventually I realized that if I didn’t keep my mouth shut, I would be alone forever. I wouldn’t have been able to get a job after graduation if not for the shame.

          1. Que Syrah Syrah*

            You say here, “if I didn’t keep my mouth shut, I’d be alone forever.” I’m wondering – at the time, did you think to yourself, “wow, I must be wrong in my opinions, let me rethink my beliefs?” Or was it more, “I still think this way, but I just have to be quiet and make sure I don’t say anything?” and the evolution of your beliefs came later?

            And as an LGBT woman, I’m thrilled your heart and mind changed; that said, an anecdote isn’t data. And the data still does, unfortunately, show that shame isn’t a good motivator for humans. That’s why so many children who grew up in shame-based households come out of it far more hurt than helped.

  8. Stone Cold Bitch*

    It’s not really an issue for the employer, unless they work say in social outreach or with minorities. Would you reach out to an employer if a person said the same thing out loud in a public space?

    If anything it should be reported to the police.

    1. Llellayena*

      Yeah, I didn’t read that as being a problem for the employer (unless they’re working with those populations), but I’d definitely want to flag it to the local police. The consequences may come back to hit the person at work anyway as the police investigate the threat. Nothing like the police showing up at your work to question you about a threat of public violence to make your employer wary…

  9. Witchqueen*

    Yeah, man. Unless the post is about the company, you’re a public spokesperson or in a leadership position or the person works in a unique position with a specific demographic I suggest using a different way to flag the message than reaching out to an employer.

    Someone threatening gun violence is alarming, absolutely. But what action item is there to take from the company’s end? She wasn’t threatening a colleague or her workplace. The police would’ve been a better fit for that.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      But what action item is there to take from the company’s end? She wasn’t threatening a colleague or her workplace.


  10. Jedi Squirrel*

    On the other hand, if one of my employees were making these kinds of posts on Facebook and they had listed me as their employer, making it very easy to trace back to us, I would want to know about it. Companies have a reputation to upkeep, and I would not want the public thinking hire and continue to employee people like this. If it were my employee, I would, at the very least, have a serious talk with them about their behavior on social media and how it affects the company’s image.

    TL;DR: If you want to run your mouth on social media, don’t add your employer to your profile or run the risk of being disciplined for it.

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      Oh, yeah, if her employer found it on their own (or if it were a coworker reported it), it’d be a totally different story. But a stranger making an anonymous report just doesn’t seem right to me. It feels vindictive.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      My company actually has a social media policy that specifically spells this out and is very clear about what is considered cause for disciplinary action and/or termination (a threat of violence is one of them). It is reviewed and updated every year and employees receive it at on boarding as well as annually along with the dress code and a few other reminders.

    3. LJay*

      Yeah, this would most likely be determined to be against our social media policy and result in disciplinary action for an employee here (and I’d want to know about their poor judgement).

  11. Jennifer*

    I may have reported it to Facebook. I think she may have violated their terms and conditions. Not that they’d do anything about it anytime this century. But I think that would have been the right avenue.

    1. ArchivesGremlin*

      Nope, They don’t care. I’ve reported lots of things like this as well as hate speech, racism, and even personal threatening of an individual and they don’t give a flying potato about it.

      1. rayray*

        That’s interesting, because I know someone who had a picture of their young baby get flagged and taken down because she (the young baby) didn’t have a top on while playing in water.

        1. Jennifer*

          I have seen pictures on Instagram and Facebook get taken down for the dumbest reasons. And I’ve reported someone for calling a black woman a gorilla and they told me it was no biggie.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Interestingly, if a POC calls out racism against someone and someone reports that, they have a high likelihood of having their post calling it out removed. Even if they are relatively polite and formal about it – their own statements or use of analogies is somehow more offensive than the ones of the person they are calling out.

            This is a sidetrack, but only to explain why simply reporting to the platform might not be a useful avenue even if seems to be the correct one. A friend of mine who is very active on racial issues kept ending up in FB Jail and getting block after block. When he went into his ad-targeting info, he discovered they thought he was a black man – changing his info to showing himself to be a white guy meant his already protested and rejected claim of improper blocking was immediately resolved in his favor and he stopped ending up in FB Jail for saying stuff like “You’re a white person who clearly has no experience of this issue. Where do you get off lecturing a black woman, who has lived this her entire life, about what she’s going through?”

          2. LJay*

            Same. I reported one of the most bigoted pictures I’ve ever seen. (I don’t even want to describe it here, but on top of being bigoted it also involved bestiality).

            Got a message back that it did not violate Facebook’s community standards.

            On the other hand pictures might get removed if they show a hint of a nipple, even if it fully painted over with body paint, or breast-feeding, or showing someone’s mastectomy scars.

          3. a1*

            All initial reports are handled by algorithms and code. When it comes back as fine, look at the bottom of the response. There should be a place where you can rate the response. Click the frowny face, and then explain why. This may get it in front of a person for review. Repeat as needed. Also, the more different people that report a thing, the more likely it is to get noticed by a person, too. The initial response can take time, but it is well worth it. Once someone has been flagged once, they are then on FB’s radar and action is faster and can even be caught in the algorithm’s w/o being reported. It’s just the first time that can take a while.

            1. pancakes*

              That’s not entirely correct—a lot of decisions people think are made by algorithms are in fact made by contract workers in the Philippines & elsewhere. There’s been some interesting deep-dive reporting on this by tech magazines, and there’s a documentary out too, called The Cleaners. A search for fauxtomation moderation will bring up several articles about the way this is marketed.

        2. blackcat*

          Facebook cares a lot about female nudity and very little about hate speech and violence.

          Reporting to FB isn’t likely useful. If someone posts about a) having a gun and b) wanting to use it against people, report to the cops.

        3. Mimi Me*

          I had a photo of my son – fully clothed! – removed from Facebook because he was sitting (again, fully clothed!) on a toilet. Somebody reported it. However, those stories with graphic photos of abused children don’t violate Facebook rules. I know. I got the response after I reported it. I’ve also reported hate speech, racist posts, and blatant sexual pictures and they all are still up.

        4. CoffeeforLife*

          That’s because bare female breasts, even on infants, are something to be ashamed of and are not suitable for family platforms like FB :/s

          1. Future Homesteader*

            I knew your comment is sarcasm and it still caused me to roll my eyes so hard I now have a headache.

        5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          They remove photos all day long but they don’t remove hateful, dangerous comments basically ever.

          A celeb posted a joke post on election day about the age old “Hey other party, don’t forget the new rules, we vote today and you vote tomorrow.” I just screenshot it and shared it with my mom in a comment on facebook because we’re both fans and she doens’t IG. They ripped his original post down and my screenshot that I had shared, even though they weren’t linked and nobody on mine or my mom’s account would have reported it.

          There are tons of impersonator accounts still out there that take the real person months upon months if not years to get taken down.

        6. geopanda*

          I have had posts about birth control be removed for “sexually explicit content”. Meanwhile, posts threatening rape (against me and my sisters) stay up.

      2. Cruciatus*

        I just got reported and had my comment removed. There was an article about an LGBT exhibit at the local library and oh, boy. One guy used a slur for gay people using only 1 g, I told him if he was going to insult people, to at least spell [properly spelled slur] correctly. And other comments I posted obviously showed I did not agree with this guy–but my comment was reported and taken down for violating their community standards. I agree the word is heinous, and tried to appeal to them. I wasn’t calling anyone that, but if you’re going to be ignorant, at least be ignorant less ignorantly. But alas.

          1. blink14*

            Crucial to your story – both comments were likely taken down because it reads as an argument.

            1. Cruciatus*

              Hmm, well, arguing on Facebook is as American as apple pie though. So I’m not sure that’s the issue. I think someone saw me using that slur and thought I was pro-slur though I am not. I did call him a troglodyte in another post and that wasn’t taken down. Who knows.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          They were probably taken down by the administration of the page. They weren’t taken down by actual media platform [facebook/instagram/forum].

          Lots of places will delete this kind of stuff. They took it down because it was a chain and therefore wanted to squash it. Like on here if Alison deems something unfit or against her commenting rules, they get taken down.

          1. Cruciatus*

            No, Facebook contacted me, told me it wasn’t appropriate, asked if I wanted to appeal. I did. They came back and said, nope, not appropriate and that was that. I could still see my comment but others couldn’t. The whole thread wasn’t removed, just those 2 posts with that word in it (so a lot of the thread after that made no sense).

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        And yet I’ve had multiple friends get put in Facebook jail for making disparaging comments about white men.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Same. FB moderation only exists to shield the world from the horror of female-presenting nipples, and protect white men’s feelings.

          1. Zillah*

            Ditto. Saying “men are trash” has gotten women I know put in facebook jail, but a man saying “you’re a bitch” apparently doesn’t violate their standards.

    2. Temperance*

      Hilariously, though, if you say anything about men (as in, hypothetically speaking, respond to someone asking why all mass shooters are men), you will get your comment flagged and occasionally a soft ban for a week.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yep, they have to look neutral so that means appeasing all the bigots out there who get butthurt when people say anything negative about men, even if it’s true.

        1. Secret Identity*

          There is nothing negative about men that would be true. Silly girl.

          (in case it’s not clear, that was a joke. I hate that I feel the need to put a disclaimer out like this, though)

  12. ArchivesGremlin*

    For What it’s worth, FB’s reporting system is a giant giant joke. Screenshot, and contact local PD.

    1. a1*

      Just posted this above, but will repeat here since it’s a shorter thread and won’t get buried.

      All initial FB reports are handled by algorithms and code. When it comes back as fine, look at the bottom of the response. There should be a place where you can rate the response. Click the frowny face, and then explain why. This may get it in front of a person for review. Repeat as needed. Also, the more different people that report a thing, the more likely it is to get noticed by a person, too. The initial removal can take time, but it is well worth it. Once someone has been flagged, they are then on FB’s radar and action is faster and can even be caught in the algorithm’s w/o being reported. It’s just the first time that can take a while. Just like the first time FB puts you in a time out it will be short (like a day), but the next time will be a week, and then a month, then a ban. Doesn’t matter what the subsequent reasons are, once you’re in their cross-hairs things move faster.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        But even then, say FB wakes up and realizes the danger? At best they take the post down. A week later, when the thread is dead and everyone has seen it. They don’t contact police or law enforcement and alert them that there’s been a threat of violence. They don’t let the person’s friends, coworkers, or community know that this person made a threat. They don’t do anything else.

      2. animaniactoo*

        Sorry, but my experience with this is that following through on that rarely changes the response, and that the same implicit bias that is present in the algorithm is clearly present in the standards that the humans doing the review are following. My friend that I posted about above? Has managed to stay out of FB jail for close to a year after being a repeat offender ever since he changed his ad targeting info to indicate that he’s white, instead of black as they had him pegged based on his postings of racial issues. Somehow, that one simple click has meant that even when he gets reported, action isn’t taken against him.

        We all keep reporting though – because at some point, there will be a record of all these reports and the action (or lack thereof) that was taken in response.

        1. animaniactoo*


          Somewhere in the middle of this article is a statement from a FB PR person acknowledging that they have been having a problem getting it right when the conversation is about exposing or confronting racism, and when people from minority groups are “speaking truth to power” in conversations.

          Beyond that, I’ll leave the conversation here because it’s really just about the point that people go to other extremes because reporting to the *correct* avenue is often not worthwhile in terms of the response they get back.

  13. AnotherAlison*

    So, let’s say some jerk road rages on me on the highway and I happen follow him to his office so I know where he works. Would I report him to his work? No. Same in the OP’s example. Perhaps if it’s aggressive enough, report it to the authorities, but otherwise it seems like tattling to someone’s mom.

    Does it reflect poorly on the business? Then don’t do business with them. They do the hiring, screening, and managing, and I think it’s better to trust that they know what type of people work for them. DO consider it a reflection on the business. I think most people show their true colors at work.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think this is a good analogy. There have been times I really wish I’d gotten someone’s license plate and would have called the cops–but I wouldn’t have followed them to work so I could go in and say “Your employee in that black SUV is a horrible driver! They ran me off the road, along with the car behind me!”

      I mean, I’d like these people to “suffer” but there are channels and proportionate responses.

    2. Anon123*

      You report it to their employer because workplace shootings are common. This person is easily angered and threatened violence over something minor. It’s not about protecting their public image, it’s about protecting their employees.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        That’s why you would report it to the police. You just want to pass it on to their employer to evaluate whether it’s a credible threat? Who are you reporting to, perhaps an entry level HR, customer service, or marketing person?

      2. Jadelyn*

        This. If one of my coworkers was prone to threatening gun violence over minor annoyances, I’d like to know for my own safety, kthx.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          The thing is, you probably work with people like this already, they’re just smart enough to keep their threats/vents offline.

          1. Jadelyn*

            And this is an argument for letting the vocal ones get away with it…how, exactly? If anything, it makes it more important that the vocal ones face consequences, lest you wind up with those other, smarter coworkers seeing there would be no consequences for openly threatening people like that and joining the chorus.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Where in the post did I say let anyone off the hook? I’ve specifically said in this comment section that if OP was genuinely concerned, she should have sent the screenshot to the police. An employer is going to do what here exactly?

    3. Moray*

      If someone posted on Facebook “I swear, if you ever tried that with me, I would kill you by running you over with my car when you left the building,” then yeah, I think I would report it.

    4. LJay*

      But, if he road raged on me on the highway on the way to work and he happens to be in a company vehicle I am definitely reporting him to his company.

      I think that’s where the line falls to me. If you have to dig and dox someone to find out where they work the social media post is probably not the company’s business. If, on the other hand, it says right in their profile or even in the little line on top of the comment (I’ve seen this setup on some newspapers that use Facebook as their commenting platform) “accountant at Great Local Company” then it moves it way more into the employer’s realm to me. All press is definitely not good press, and not wanting their name to be tied to threats of violence or similar is a legitimate concern for the company, the same as not wanting someone driving their vehicle to act like a jerk.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        It’s not really doxing if you look at their profile and it says Joe Smith works for MegaCorp, Inc. They put the info in a public place for all to see.

    5. VictorianCowgirl*

      Road rage is not the same thing as threatening a specific person with gun violence. This is a false equivalency.

  14. Shark Whisperer*

    Honestly, I would report a violent threat to the police, not their employer. I understand that the police most likely would not do anything, but it is good for the police to have a record of this person making violent threats in case something else happens in the future. Reporting the post to their employer just seems vindictive, not like you are actually trying to do something productive.

    In general, I think the only times your should report a social media post to someone’s employer is if it directly relates to their job. I think a police officer or teacher making racist posts would count, but an accountant making racist posts probably wouldn’t (in my view, at least)

  15. Mama Bear*

    People run off at the keyboard all the time, but sometimes it’s not just words. If I was rattled I probably would have called the non-emergency line to discuss it.

  16. NothingIsLittle*

    Based on how the post has been paraphrased, it sounds like something that could and should be brought to the attention of the store in question (if a specific one is mentioned), but I don’t think it makes sense to bring it to the attention of the employer. They should absolutely be banned from whatever store they’re talking about, though.

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, send it to the store- the cashier sounds at least as bad as the poster. Screaming at customers is a non-starter. ESPECIALLY if you are also calling them names.

      1. LawBee*

        it doesn’t say it was a store employee. just “to the jerk at the grocery store”. It’s more likely it was a customer.

        1. Observer*

          You’re right.

          I still think it should go to the store – they need to develop a response to this kind of thing. It shouldn’t be necessary, but unfortunately, it is.

    2. Milton’s Red Swingline*

      You think they actually would ban the jerk yelling at the trailer trash? The jerk who has this person so annoyed they would shoot them if they yelled at her? Or would you just ban all the ”trailer trash” looking people and people that could be mistaken as such? So that yelling jerks would be safe?

      1. Meh*

        I believe NothingIsLittle means they would ban the trigger-happy Facebook poster (if they banned anyone).

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          Yeah, I meant that they should ban the person who threatened to shoot up the store, haha. I figure that the store at least ought to decide for themselves to let someone who’s threatened violence against them shop there (though to be fair, I’ve known some stores that wouldn’t ban anyone at all).

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        Wow, that’s incredibly hostile. I’ll grant that my comment was vague, but why on earth would you assume I wanted to “ban all the trailer trash looking people?” That’s a huge reach and I have no idea how you came to that conclusion.

        1. Milton’s Red Swingline*

          So an asshole yelling at people is OK? Yelling at people so bad they feel like they would need to shoot them?

          Hostile? You need to screw your head around properly. The hostile person is the cause, the person wanting to shoot is the effect. You need to deal with the cause and not the symptoms.

  17. Audrey Puffins*

    I’m in the UK so am coming at this from that perspective, but honestly, it’s always worth reporting a credible threat. People don’t always react to them as well they should, which is why women are still killed in domestic violence cases even after going to the police multiple times, but not reporting a credible threat DEFINITELY won’t get anything done.

    In this case, I think the OP was moved by a reasonable impulse, but maybe didn’t go about it the ideal way. To be credible, a threat should probably have more tangibly identifiable potential victims than this comment specified; “I’m going to kill my boss” or “I’m going to shoot up my school” are more concerning than “I have had so many awful customers today that now I just want to kill all rude people”. And if it’s a credible threat, then you should probably go to the police rather than the person’s employer. If they’re genuinely going to go on a rampage, what’s the employer going to do to stop that?

    But in fairness, if the OP was able to identify the person’s employer that easily and reported it as “this is a really bad look for your company”, then… well, she’s not wrong! Maybe she shouldn’t have told the employer, but that still doesn’t make it a good look for the company! Just as we were always told to behave on school trips because we were “ambassadors for the school”, if you’re going to be easily linked to your place of employment on the internet, then whether you like it or not, you’re representative of the company. Doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not, you made the choice to put that information online *and* be an awful person online.

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      Yes thank you for this reasonable comment and for not letting the poster off the hook.
      I’m alarmed at the wagon circling around the poster on this comment section.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I feel this a thing where there is no definite right answer. You would feel horrible if the police sent a SWAT team and then the poster turned out to not be planning a shooting after all, and you would feel even worse if they did carry out a shooting and you hadn’t reported them even though you could have. It’s a judgement about how much you trust the police and how credible you find the threat, and sometimes people will get it wrong.

      As for contacting the employer, I agree with you. It’s a kindness to the employer to tell them a person affiliated with them are posting threats on facebook. Maybe it’s unfair to the poster, maybe not.

  18. Drax*

    I think with the timing I doubt you were the first person to have reported it.

    I’ve always been told this and firmly believe it that if you link your name and your employer on social media, anything you post you shouldn’t be shocked if your employer sees it. Once you link the two you have turned your personal pages into an extension of your professional life.

    Now, if you don’t link your employer or use a different name and someone reports mild bad behavior, I do think that is too far. But social media isn’t private, and there has been a ton of falling outs over things said on social media so you shouldn’t post anything in a public way you wouldn’t want your bosses to see if it can be linked back to you. Set your settings to private if you feel the need to say things like that.

  19. Anonforthis*

    I’ve reported someone to their employer. In a FB mom group (why are the crazies always in the FB mom groups?) a woman posted about walking in on a close family friend having “relations” with a young teenager (think 13, not 17) and wondering how she should talk to him about this “so he didn’t get in trouble”.

    She’s a teacher, and a mandated reporter. The teen was a student at her school. I absolutely emailed her school district with a screenshot.

    Going anon/keeping details vague, for obvious reasons.

    1. Anonforthis*

      Which is to say there are definitely times when it makes sense to go to the employer (and to the local authorities, which were copied on my email though I’m not sure if I went to the right local authorities) but I’m not sure the LW’s situation was one of those.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        I think it’s safe to say that your situation is both one in which the employer has a vested interest and extreme enough to justify reporting. Glad you cc’d the authorities because that’s frightening and wildly illegal.

        However, based on the paraphrase we got, I fall on the side of OP’s situation not needing to be forwarded to the poster’s employer.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I think there are a couple problems here. First is the criminal act witnessed. The other is the witness’s decision to choose NOT to make a report despite her role as a mandated reporter. That should give a lot of people pause, especially her employer. Have there been other abuse issues she’s seen and not reported? It appears she was protecting this particular kid (or so she thought) – have there been kids who her actions failed to protect?

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            I read ‘a family friend’ as an adult not a kid. If it was a kid, you’d usually say, ‘my kid’s friend’.

            1. Anonforthis*

              Yes, it’s as you say – an adult presumably in his 30s or 40s based on the mom-group-poster’s age and comment, having relations with a teen.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          Totally agree. You had every right to alert her employer that she was aiding and abetting a child predator. That’s absolutely disgusting and she should not be allowed around children.

    2. Observer*

      Yeah, this is ABSOLUTELY an issue to report to the employer – they are failing to do one of the most basic parts of their job. And we already KNOW that someone is being harmed.

      Very different situation.

  20. vanessa*

    You may have gone a bit far in this case, but you should absolutely report it to their employer if they had done something truly heinous, like call you a bedbug

  21. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    I feel like companies should have rules outlined in their handbooks for social media. “If you list us as your employer on social media, you become a representative of the company and must behave as such. Comments that could negatively impact the perception of the company will be met with disciplinary actions, such as written warnings, suspension, or termination. Even if you do not have our company listed as your employer and make posts that indicate a disconnect from the company’s mission and purpose, they may be met with disciplinary actions, such as written warnings, suspension, or termination.”

    Something to give people a moment’s pause before linking to their company’s facebook page or listing it in the first place.

    I am not a fan of torpedoeing someone’s life for 1 angry post. But my guess is this person, if their posts were gone through, would exhibit bias in other places. Does that mean they shouldn’t have a livelihood? Of course not. But maybe, just maybe, getting in trouble for it will make them keep their hatred to themselves instead of inflicting it on others.

    Do I think this was likely a poor decision? Yes. I think reporting it to facebook was the way to go.

    1. softcastle*

      Can confirm, we have this at our company. The second you identify yourself as an employee of our company, take photos of our workplace, or post illegal/leaking/inappropriate stuff using work hardware, you’re liable to get fired. It’s a good policy to have, when it’s followed (we have one employee in particular who breaks this rule a lot but we’re all too afraid of snitching to report it, as it doesn’t really affect our day-to-day workflow or our lives at all).

      1. animaniactoo*

        Ditto at my company. Also relates to talking about the company itself in any non-positive way. I immediately erased my place of employment from anywhere other than linkedIn and have doubled down on referring to it (and what I do) in a much more anonymous way since. Because my name is unique (only 1 of me in the whole U.S.) and what my company does is unique enough that it would not be hard to figure out what company I’m talking about and who I am even if I am posting anonymously.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Ditto at my employer. If you identify yourself as employed by them, you are ‘a public face of the company’ and need to stay squeaky clean. There’s a whole section on social media use in the handbook. I do not id my employer except on Linked In.

    2. Bee Eye Ill*

      Most companies have something in effect about how you represent them outside of work. It may not specifically mention social media, but it is implied.

      As a general rule, you should never “friend” your co-workers and definitely not your boss on social media. Keep all that stuff separate because you never know who might try to backstab you. I learned that one the hard way.

      1. Milton’s Red Swingline*

        I am on a course for a building site safety certificate, and some of the lads were telling exactly this. I was going ballistic on them ”keep work separate”…

  22. Jo*

    I have a coworker that I wish someone would report to our boss! I’ve tried, but I get ignored. A third party might get listened to.

  23. kretin*

    “you will be my gunshot victim” isn’t a credible enough threat to report to the police AND the employer?? in a time where we are having at least one, sometimes multiple mass shootings per day, sometimes in stores??? i don’t want to fear monger, but reporting it to police & the job seems like the most rational and logical thing to do here. i’m shocked by this answer.

    1. rayray*

      I guess the point is, what exactly would the employer do about it besides letting them go? I think the point is that there are other authorities that need to deal with violent threats like this.

      1. kretin*

        the employer can also protect its other employees/customers/store by having the information that this person is potentially a threat and taking the appropriate measures

        1. LJay*

          What measures do you want them to take?

          The grocery store isn’t this guy’s employer, so there’s not anything the employer can do to protect the store or the customers in the store.

    2. ooo*

      Eh, it’s a generalized “you.” It’s a stupid thing to say, but it reads to me like an amplified version of, like, “Anybody talks to me that way, I’ll punch ’em in the nose.” It’s way, way more common for people to talk shit with no intention of doing anything than it is to follow through on threats like that. I’m not saying the commenter isn’t an insensitive idiot, just that I don’t think it’s useful to treat what is likely hyperbole as legitimate. We can never know for sure how serious someone is, but we can apply our knowledge of context and faculty of discrimination to weed out the bullshit and focus on the more clearly dangerous stuff.

    3. animaniactoo*

      A lot of people speak hyperbolically, particularly on social media platforms. I think it becomes credible when the threat is much more direct.

      “If that lil jerk down at the Sleazy Cornerstore gives me the evil eye one more time when I need to return something, I swear I am going to kill them. I have a [specific type of weapon], I’m all ready to go” contains enough first person reference and detailed planning to rise to the level of concern.

      “Hey, unnamed person at [not named store], if somebody spoke to ME that way, I would make them my gunshot victim” is not a first person issue – it’s secondhand imagining, and is extremely likely to be hyperbole. Unless you happen to know a lot more about the person and know that they do have a nasty temper and this could be more than just them shooting off their mouth.

      Yes, it’s harder to know when to filter this kind of stuff lately, but if we don’t acknowledge the amount of hyperbole that exists and the greater context we are frequently going to over-react to someone who may simply be having a bad moment/day/etc. and that ramps all of this up – and the flipside is that a lot of reporting will get dismissed as [eyeroll] “Some oversensitive person took stuff too seriously again”. It is to our own benefit to work to filter so that what we report is more likely to actually be a credible issue.

      1. a1*

        Yes to all of this. People get very hyperbolic, especially on the internet. And not just about violence. I also like your points about specific and direct vs more general/second-hand.

    4. VictorianCowgirl*

      I am shocked as well, especially by the way the commenters are defending and purposefully interpreting the post in the least harmful way.

      I’m not sure why they feel the need to defend and dismiss gun violence in this day and age, but this is how the cycle of violence continues. We are seeing it in action here.

      1. LJay*

        Because if everyone reports everything, even things that are pretty clearly hypothetical and non-credible, then it becomes a little boy who cried wolf situation, and the authorities are more likely to dismiss the actual threats and also may be so overwhelmed that they don’t even see the credible threats until it is too late to do something about it.

        1. Mr. Tyzik*

          So that would justify “see something, say nothing”? Police officers in general take these reports seriously because of the fallout that would occur if they didn’t and something happened.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Man, can you imagine how much dross the police would have to wade through if EVERY threat of violence on just Facebook was reported to them? It would be impossible.

          It would not improve public safety and would be a massive waste of public resources.

        3. Baru Cormorant*

          I don’t get how this doesn’t seem like a credible threat. Why not let the authorities decide if it’s credible instead of saying “eh ‘I’ll shoot you’ isn’t specific enough.”

          Normally we are so in favor of reporting things to managers just to “keep them in the loop,” but an actual safety issue is not worth reporting to the police because “people threaten to shoot up stores all the time”… and then they actually do.

          This comment thread is so demoralizing and makes me so relieved I don’t live in the US if people are this exhausted by being outraged at gun violence.

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        I’m reading it in the least harmful way because it’s been paraphrased by someone who has a vested interest in me thinking the post was extreme. If the post had said, word for word, what the OP paraphrased, I’d have a different response, but, given the lense we’re receiving it through, I’m disinclined to believe the post verbatim threatened literal gun violence.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t follow this logic at all. The letter writer said they regret having contacted the person’s employer because in hindsight it didn’t seem like the right decision, so I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that they have a vested interest in making you think the post was extreme. And whether they did or didn’t have that interest, it doesn’t follow that reading the post with a slant towards the other direction is necessarily the best way to ascertain what it actually meant. You’re talking about this like it’s a matter of balancing the bubble in a level but that’s not how language, narrative, and intent work.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        Agreed. If it turns out to be a hyperbole, then maybe the person will learn not to make hyperbolic threats.

        People are shot every day. Saying “I’m going to shoot this person” is not hyperbole when it happens Every. Day. in the US.

    5. Mr. Tyzik*

      I agree. I would have contacted the police AND the employer.

      The police, because this was a threat of gun violence and needs to be taken seriously, regardless of whether the poster is a gun owner.

      The employer, because the poster represents the company and this does not reflect well on the company (not surprisingly). Also, the reaction is over the top, and if this is the way that the poster reacts to stimuli, the company needs to know so it can protect its employees from potential violence.

      I worked years ago with a concealed carry coworker who was creepy and had boundary issues. Many, including me, watched him closely from fear. He had bragged about bringing a small gun to work with him; no one knew if he really did until he shot himself on property after his shift. This was in the 90s when anonymity ruled the internet. If anyone had found a credible threat attributed to him, I would hope they would report it. It might have gotten him some help.

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m kind of with you. That “gunshot victim” language makes me think they are deliberately referencing the Wal-Mart shooting and similar ones and I’m not sure how that’s less worth reporting than bigotry.

  24. TotesMaGoats*

    I’m leaning towards contacting the police and flagging FB instead of the employer. I would also tell the store because they seem to have an employee who treats customers horribly which should be addressed by the store.

    Much like FB flagging, we don’t know that contacting the employer will do anything. More than that, you can put any employer you want on FB and it’s not true. It seems it was in this case though.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      Yes, I think the management/work issue and the safety-threat issue are separate.

      The violent threat should get flagged to the police. They have their own criteria for assessing things like this. If the poster already has a record of real-life violence or illegal weapons charges, it’s going to get taken more seriously than if they’re a law-abiding person with a big mouth. The cops have access to that info, the public may not.

      It sounds like there’s a good deal of chaos and disruption at that store, as well as angry/ragey customers. Even if this didn’t rise to the level of a credible threat, the store needs to know about the management problems.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Why would anyone lie about their employer on FB? And if they did, and you contact them, the reply will be “this is a mistake, they don’t work for us.” Oh well.

      Facebook reporting doesn’t do anything. At best, fB will take the post down. They won’t contact law enforcement, they won’t alert the community. Most likely you’ll get a response that it doesn’t violate their community standards.

      OP should have forwarded it on to the police, but I see nothing wrong with passing it on to the employer as well.

  25. Falling Diphthong*

    I’m a very mild-mannered person. But I think “I would shoot someone who did that” “I could kill him” “I would smash his face” are almost always metaphorical descriptions meaning “I feel irritated right now.”

    There was a whole discussion on the intern-refuses-to-work-on-VIP-tour about whether a desire to face punch someone was a turn of phrase that meant nothing or a literal threat of violence that should freak out your coworkers. Conclusion was it was intended as the former but work is not the place to use your colorful turns of phrase in this way.

    And this woman wasn’t at work. She was in what she thought of as a casual local venue where people might blow off steam about the annoying local annoyances they encounter. (Thinking of you, person who parked me in yesterday by parking in the middle of an aisle even though there were literally dozens of open parking spots, including one next to me that I used to wiggle out around your car.) I find it surprising to conclude that she was sincerely stating her intention to shoot someone who made an annoying scene in public–much less everyone in the store at the time, which is nowhere in her post. This is not someone posting lengthy Facebook rants about how they hate group X and someone needs to remove group X and okay now they are heading out to take care of the group X infestation–it’s someone who was annoyed that their day got held up while someone else made a scene.

    I think it’s fair game to forward off “Me at the Nazi rally” posts, or dick pics, that come with a link to the poster’s employer. But someone using a turn of phrase you don’t like is just not the hill to post on. That’s what blocking features are for. (And as your last paragraph intimates, the police would have been the logical call if you actually thought she was threatening to go shoot up a grocery store. Alerting her employer is trying to punish her for her public speech, not stop a mass shooting.)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      But I think “I would shoot someone who did that” “I could kill him” “I would smash his face” are almost always metaphorical descriptions meaning “I feel irritated right now.”

      Except when they aren’t. Which we have seen numerous times in the past few years.

    2. Mia*

      “You would be my gunshot victim” is so much more specific than “god I would’ve killed that guy” or something else in that realm. Something with that level of specificity sounds way more like a legitimate threat than someone expressing general frustration.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely. I mean, there’s always some joker who thinks it’s hilarious to respond to the ‘Do you have any sharp items in your luggage’ question at the airport with ‘No, just that bomb I made last night’ – and off they go to have a nice chat with the police. I’m sure the security staff realistically know there’s a 99% chance this idiot is just an idiot, but you can’t take that chance. And I think if someone says ‘Do X and you would be my gunshot victim’, you also have to take that seriously. I’d think about reporting it to the police before the idea of informing their employer crossed my mind.

      2. bonkerballs*

        “You would be my gunshot victim” isn’t what was said, though. OP said they’re paraphrasing, so it’s hard to say either way.

  26. mobuy*

    Do we really want a world in which our employer gets to control our speech, thoughts, and actions? If we make a mistake or have a bad day or vent in what seems like the anonymity of the internet, do we want that to affect our very livelihood?

    I vote no.

    Report people to the platform. If it’s a credible threat (which this post was not), report it to the police. Otherwise, let people make mistakes. I’m so glad that I haven’t made any mistakes that someone else has decided need policing in this manner. We are not the USSR or China or Cuba. It is not our job to police language and behavior at all times. Back off.

    1. Roscoe*

      I totally agree with your first paragraph. however, unfortunately as witnessed here, so many people are all “there needs to be consequences” and want those consequences to be their employer. I just can’t get behind the idea though that if you have “bad” views on things that you shouldn’t be able to have a job.

      20 years ago plenty of pretty progressive people weren’t in favor of gay marriage. However, if someone says that now, they’d get branded homophobic and people would want them fired from their job. (FYI, I’m in favor of gay marriage before anyone tries to say anything). But opinions change over time, and some people it takes longer than others to change.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        So, okay. I’ve reported a transphobic shitstain at my hair salon to her management. (She did not, sadly, get fired, though she did get disciplined.) Why? Because I’m not even trans, but I have friends who are, and I don’t want to sit there while I get my hair dyed and listen to TERFy Smurf talk about ZOMG bathrooms and the rest of it. And furthermore, I don’t want to spend my money on her.

        Do her horrible beliefs affect her job directly? Nope. But they do tangentially–and, in the case of social media, if you don’t have the self-control to friendslock a FB rant so your co-workers/employers/etc don’t see it, I’m reasonably sure you don’t have the self control to keep from running your mouth in front of clients and co-workers.

        Do I give a damn whether she changes or dies mad about it? No. I don’t want to listen to her nonsense when I get my hair done, I don’t want unsuspecting people who might be trans themselves to encounter it when they go in, and I don’t want to pay for this wretched excuse for a human to have cable. (I’m all for UBIs and universal health care and so forth, even for the most vile, but when it comes to my choices as a consumer, that’s different.)

        I’m not spending my money and time trying to help bigots develop humanity. It behooves companies to be aware of that, and most are–so what their employees can’t or won’t keep out of customers’ awareness is relevant.

        1. mobuy*

          Okay, but is this something you overheard while getting your hair done? Totally different than researching where someone that you don’t know works based on one social media post.

          1. Isabel Kunkle*

            It is, but see comment about how, if someone doesn’t have the sense to keep from posting bigoted things on a social media profile that names their employer (and I agree with the people below who say it’s not “researching” if all you have to do is click the name), they probably don’t have the sense to keep their mouths shut at work, either.

            I’d feel differently (except about the threat of shooting people) if the LW had seen a friendslocked post and then written to the person’s employer, or even if the poster hadn’t listed the employer in their profile.

            It’s 2019, we all know that social media isn’t a little diary with a heart locket under your pillow, and we all know ways to at least make it *more* private if we want, so I’ve got no sympathy.

          2. pancakes*

            If someone’s employer is named in their user profile, “researching their employer” isn’t any more difficult or time-consuming than looking around a hair salon and identifying the person who seems to be the manager, or asking to have a word with them.

    2. LKW*

      Well that’s dependent on the nature of the issue and the employer. What if you are spouting using highly inflammatory language to describe minorities and you happen to be a law enforcement officer? Or a teacher? What if you manage mortgages for the local privately owned bank? What if you are in your work uniform and work for a cola company? If you were a business owner or operator, wouldn’t you want to know if your employees were aligned with your company values ? It’s not to say that an employer controls speech, but rather that the employer determines who’s doing right for the company (which is why perpetrators of sexual harassment or other toxic behaviors keep their jobs – they make the company money and the company decides they care more about the money than their values).

      1. Emi.*

        But the effect *is* that the employer controls speech, even if that’s not the reporter’s intention. I get that we all want to draw lines in the moral sand, but giving capital (more) more control over workers’ speech is a bad way to go about it.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          ooh – the actual philosophical question!
          Living in society is a constant debate / battle between social control vs individual freedom. Employment is one form of social control, and yeah, capital does have a lot more leverage than individuals right now, but capital is not the only relevant aspect of an employer.

          Capital’s concentration means that companies affect more people – if your x-ist outburst causes a boycott of your employer, then a lot more employees may be affected than just you. Does your right to work for a company and say what you want equal or surpass 20 other people who are fired because there’s less work for them to do?

          I actually like my employer’s solution – ‘If you put our name on your profile, here are the restrictions’, spelled out in the employee handbook with annual required training. It’s a compromise that lets me say what I want and insulates them (somewhat) from what I say.

          Society as a whole is still figuring this out.

          1. Emi.*

            I mean, I think the people boycotting the company would be in the wrong too, at least in a situation like this where the person’s job doesn’t seem to have anything to do with their bad tweets or whatever. It’s a concerted attempt to use capital’s power for political purposes, which is harmful even when it doesn’t originate with capital.

      2. Steggy Saurus*

        What if? What if? What if? We can “what if” anything to death. Short of actually breaking the law (and some of those scenarios have been mentioned above), I really don’t think it’s my business or the business of anyone else to tattle to employers.

        We have to remember that pendulums swing both ways. Right now, it’s largely right-wing views that people are reporting to employers. 40 years ago, the same types might have reported someone’s attendance at a gay pride parade. Neither is the employer’s business.

        Cancel culture needs to be cancelled.

          1. Steggy Saurus*

            Actions based on bigotry do. Words do not. Also, I think if you asked the hypothetical people who might have reported someone at a pride parade, they would have begged to differ.

            1. Zillah*

              1) Words absolutely do hurt people, and people who think bigoted things act on them.

              2) There is no objective, tangible evidence that going to a pride parade (or, for that matter, consenting adults having sex) harms people. There is objective, tangible evidence that bigotry does.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I want to live in a world where I can go to [a concert, a movie, church, the grocery store] without being afraid that I’m going to be shot by some violent, entitled person.

      1. mobuy*

        I want to live in a world where people are not entitled enough to judge whether I should have a job or not, based on seeing one tweet of mine. But then, I disapprove of the heckler’s veto also.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I think Det S’s desire to live without fear of her life kinda wins over your desire to live without social / economic consequences for your own words and actions.

          Do you really not see the difference in those two? Do you really equate your right to say anything without consequence (where those consequences would be purely economic) to her right to live without fear of actual death? I mean… you used the term entitled, I am not sure you are using it correctly.

          1. mobuy*

            Of course I see the difference. However, this OP was not talking about people being killed, and the discussion has certainly moved on from guns to ANYTHING that people don’t like. It’s about doxxing, and tattling to someone who controls a person’s livelihood. Besides, if someone has a gun and really is going to shoot someone, what is the employer going to do? No, if it’s violence that you fear, report it to the police, not the person’s employer.

            If you think I should be fired because I said something that you don’t like, then yes, you are entitled. You think that you should control who has a job based on their views. I’m pretty sure I used that word correctly.

      2. Roscoe*

        And what do you expect a random employer to do about that? If its a valid threat, absolutely go to the cops. But the employer can’t do anything to stop a shooting, except go to the cops as well. No one wants a world where mass shootings are happening, the argument is if going to the employer is the right way to go. I say its not

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      My employer imposes consequences for public speech that can be easily affiliated with them (ie, a fb post where employer is listed in the profile). This is clearly spelled out in the employee handbook, but the mitigation they request is that you not affiliate yourself with them on social media.

      It’s not ‘control my thoughts and speech’, it’s ‘don’t drag us into it.’ Companies absolutely have the right to request that.

      ‘vent in the anonymity of the internet’: the internet is not anonymous. Never post (or email, or text) anything that you don’t want your employer (or grandmom, or parole officer) knowing. This should be the #1 rule of the internet – it’s certainly what I’m trying to impress on my kid. If ya gotta vent: type it out and then hit cancel, or post to yourself. Write it down and then burn the paper.

      Freedom of expression does not mean freedom from consequences. Society is still trying to figure out those consequences – move carefully until you know what is likely to happen.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I always tell people if they want to vent, get a diary. Not an online diary, but an actual, physical journal that they can write this stuff down in and stick under the mattress where no one else will ever have to see it. Venting online is the dumbest thing you can do in today’s society, and people who have poor impulse control definitely shouldn’t have social media accounts.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      I agree that this particular thing wasn’t something that necessarily should be flagged to the employer. But on the other hand, if you want “the anonymity of the internet,” maybe don’t mouth off on a profile that bears your real name, photograph, and job? There are plenty of places online to vent anonymously.

      If you don’t want your words to come bite you in the butt, don’t claim them. If you claim them, accept that people are going to form their opinions of you accordingly – including employers.

      Facebook and other real-name platforms are part of the public square, and affect your public reputation. Throwing tantrums and talking ugly in public is a legitimate thing for people to take into account when they decide if they want to work with you.

    6. krysb*

      We had a case where someone called and reported an employee (no clue which one) for responding to a tragic Facebook post with a laughing face. The employee did so accidentally, but even if s/he did so purposefully, do people really expect us to fire someone over something like that?

      1. CMart*

        At a certain level I’m not even sure “reporting to someone’s employer” is even about getting them fired. I suspect a lot of the time it’s simply a desire to pull their mask off and reveal their “true nature” to others around them.

        I know I’ve had a difficult time in my own life witnessing certain people who have been horrible to me getting to be happy and have fun with friends and family who seemingly don’t know that they’ve said/done horrible things. It feels unfair, and it rankles that they get the privilege of having people in their lives who think they’re great. It would be incredibly satisfying to be able to convince people around them that they are not actually a great person.

        And I think that is really the impulse behind a lot of this “going to the employer”. They don’t expect or necessarily want them to be fired. They want their boss and colleagues to know they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        1. mobuy*

          “It would be incredibly satisfying to be able to convince people around them that they are not actually a great person.”

          Honestly, that makes you…not a great person. That’s fine, revenge can be sweet. However, let’s not pretend that telling people “That person was mean to me!” is anything but petty crap.

          1. Isabel Kunkle*

            Disagree, if the convincing is a matter of honestly presenting facts.

            If someone I think is a friend was bigoted, threatening, abusive or harassing to someone else, I want to know. That person is not the person I think they are, and I don’t want to hang around with bigots/abusers/harassers/people who threaten others. (And no, frankly, those people don’t deserve to be happy.)

            If a friend of mine cheated on their college SO or failed to come to a birthday party or once said something nasty about a second person’s fashion sense, then I’m not going to care when I hear it, I’ll just think worse of the person who tells me for expecting me to care.

            I’m not advocating revealing super-secret personal information, but telling mutual friends that you’re uncomfortable being around people who are friends with Bob because Bob said some horrible things about gay people or that Alice really emotionally abused you when you were dating is not “petty crap,” it’s preventing missing stairs.

    7. Anon9*

      What in the world are you talking about? If my employee was running around talking on public forums about how they want to shoot X or how much they hate group Y, I would tell them they can either stop affiliating the business with that (because, putting aside human rights and dignity, group X or Y buys just as much cereal or milk or cars as anyone else regardless of how you feel) or you can just plainly stop working for the business. You are not entitled to a job from me.

      You say ‘back off’, I say ‘bite your tongue every once in a while.’ No where in the world do you get to speak wildly with impunity. Get a diary or a journal. Have you ever said something in private, nothing offensive to a group but perhaps to an individual, that you didn’t mean but was hurtful? Did it not have consequences in your relationship that went beyond the initial period of anger? Sometimes it’s best to control your anger rather than tell others to ‘deal with it’.

    8. Jackalope*

      Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. It means freedom from specific legal actions taken by the government. Employment in most US jobs is at-will and employers can respond to things you say in a public forum and absolutely use that to make decisions about your employment.

    9. Meh*

      Are you kidding? In today’s (US) climate of extreme violence? If employees are making threats to others, vague or not, in the workplace or not, and if they are behaving erratically, lose their temper easily, shouting angrily on calls or to people in person, have a lot of additional stressors in their personal life that could compound everything, where any one incident could end up being the “critical episode” police say precedes violent outbursts & shootings – then YES the employer needs to know so they can intervene ASAP to hopefully prevent yet one more episode of workplace violence.

    10. Baru Cormorant*

      There is a difference between “your employee is racist/bigoted/a bad person” and “your employee has threatened violence.”

      You know what China doesn’t have? Gun violence.

  27. Amber Rose*

    A boss is not a parent, and I’m frustrated at the idea that employers are somehow responsible for dealing out penalties for every misstep a person makes as though they were looking after children rather than working with other adults.

    If you’re worried about people’s safety, that’s a job for the cops. If someone is mouthing off on a website, that’s a job for the owners or moderators of the website. The only time someone’s workplace should ever be involved in anything is if the person is directly involving them, either by referencing them or acting out while working.

    1. NotAgain*

      Hmmm, yes, the cops. Fine people who will protect the community except when they can’t be bothered or you aren’t white. Definitely the people to contact. Yes.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If you actually, sincerely believe someone is threatening violence, yes, the cops are the people to contact.

        If you thought their metaphor a touch uncomfortable but don’t think it literally threatened anyone, you report it to the platform or the group moderator. Or you avoid that group, or block that user. Poor metaphor choice is not something for your fellow citizen’s employer to protect you from.

        What’s your alternative to the police for a sincere threat of violence, get up a local vigilante group and go string the Facebook poster up from a tree before they hurt anyone?

        1. kretin*

          reporting them to their employer is a step BELOW a vigilante group stringing them up. the police is a historically racist, discriminatory, and frequently useless organization and community policing with social/economic consequences that non-police are in control of can often present more effective and immediate solutions that are also less extreme. (see: police killing civilians, seizing property, ransacking homes.) being scrutinized for being fired is way LESS of a consequence than for being arrested for a violent threat, even if you are released without charge.

        2. londonedit*

          In the UK there’s been a lot in the news over the last few years about how the police are taking allegations of hate speech very seriously – I think this is absolutely the sort of thing that they’d investigate as part of that (even if it was just a quick visit to the person’s house to say ‘Hey, it’s really not a good idea to mouth off online about shooting people’).

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Sounds good, but it is definitely not the case in the US. I think the sheer volume of vents like the one in the post make it hard for them to react.

          2. Milton’s Red Swingline*

            ”Allegations” exactly. Of totally silly things. And in the UK some cupid stunt gets ’offended’ and complains it causes a huge response. I would rather complain about the complainers as I am offended by cupid stunts, and as I weigh 18 stone my complaint is heavier.

      2. Amber Rose*

        That kind of attitude isn’t helpful unless you are somehow thinking vigilante justice is going to solve anything.

        1. NotAgain*

          I think it’s very helpful to understand that the police are not actually here to protect you and are not actually required to do so.

          1. Amber Rose*

            That’s even less of a helpful attitude. Us VS them is probably the most useless, potentially harmful attitude you can have.

            But whatever. Agree to disagree and all that.

            1. NotAgain*

              “Us VS them is probably the most useless, potentially harmful attitude you can have.”
              Yes, this is exactly what your local law enforcement officers believe: That it is Us vs. Them and you, Amber Rose, are, personally, one of the Them. And, as we hear on a regular basis, it is indeed a harmful attitude for police to have.

      3. LJay*

        And the person who handles outside emails for the company this guy works for is the person to contact? What are they going to do about the threat itself? They’re probably used to dealing with sales or customer service inquiries, not threats of violence on other properties. And there’s no guarantee that they are going to do any more or less or be any more or less bigoted than the police.

    2. LKW*

      Yes, the cops – it’s worked so well when people have reported potential shooters to the cops. Cops deal with crimes committed, they rarely prevent them.

      1. Amber Rose*

        And reporting to someone to their boss works better? You want to get a potential shooter fired so they… rampage sooner? Put the boss, someone with no training whatsoever, in danger?

        This is the job that cops are supposed to do. Even if they don’t do it, just shrugging and pretending like they don’t exist is not the answer.

      2. LJay*

        And people’s bosses and customer service or sales people that respond to email sent to the company website are going to do what, exactly?

        At most, they’ll fire the guy and call the cops. (Just firing doesn’t remove the potential threat to the store).

        Or they may just ignore and delete.

  28. Jerk Store*

    I did this several years ago. My area has a lot of immigrants from a Muslim country, and their was an article on our local newspaper’s website about how a local employer considered a hijab a uniform violation and fire anyone who would not take them off.

    The newspaper website comment section required you to comment with your Facebook login, so your full name, profile pic, and job title/employer showed up if you listed that on Facebook. One woman went off on this super-racist diatribe about how all [that country’s] immigrants were dirty, bad drivers, etc.

    I would have ignored it, but she listed her job as a receptionist for a local fire department, so I felt like her employer should be aware that they had someone working in a public-facing position was vocally prejudiced about members of the community she is serving. Especially given that Facebook does not require you to enter your employer on your profile.

    1. Observer*

      This is very different from what the OP describes though. I think that it’s important to be a little discriminating in how we react to stuff. If we treat EVERYTHING as level 10, it winds up being meaningless.

      One of the reasons why so many of the tracking databases that various branches of the government uses are so useless is because of this- they scoop us SOOO much information that you can’t really find the useful bits since nothing is reasonably ranked.

  29. PB*

    I wouldn’t report it to their employer unless it was directly related to their work (for example they work at a Wal-Mart, or in the police/security). Employers aren’t someone’s mom and this blurs a TON of boundaries.

  30. Wrongfully Accused Via FB*

    Please be 110% sure the person you are reporting to their employer is the person who made the comments.

    I need to tell this story, in the hopes it will make the doxx crowd out there stop and think.

    I have a fairly obscure name, and someone with the same name posted something overtly racist on a group I am also a part of on FB. While this person and I have similar names (mine is spelled slightly different, we live in the same metropolitan area and only know of each other through this large (100K people “fan” group). This person was banned from the group by the admins.

    Two weeks later I’m hauled into my boss’ office for a meeting and asked why I am posting such things on FB. Apparently someone in the group had sent the post to our HR department and to the CEO. I assured them it wasn’t me and offered to log into my FB at that point to prove it. I told the story of the person with a similar name and was told “an investigation would be done.”

    The next two weeks, my life was under a microscope. I had three meetings with HR and directors of various levels. I thought about deleting all of my social media, even though the comments from my dad who passed last year are some of my most important things right now.

    I was borderline suicidal because I felt NO ONE would believe me. Finally, after two and half weeks of hell, I was told the investigation was complete. I was denied access to know what this “investigation” consisted of or if anything was put in my file. I was just told it was “over.” I asked for the original complaint because I wanted to know what my legals options were and was told it was “confidential.”

    Now I am paranoid at work. One of the HR assistants has a gossipy mouth. I’m sure others have heard of it. I’m terrified because I was accused of something I absolutely did not do.

    So please, before you decide that emailing someone’s company is the best way to get them shamed for their awful social media…make sure you have the right person.

    1. I suck*

      I’m sorry that happened to you. This reminds me of the professor who was doxxed when people assumed he was one of the tiki torch holding protesters in Charlottesville. Even though he provided solid proof that he was across the coast when it happened and didn’t hold those views. That is terrible.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. In the end this isn’t the person who reported the behavior’s poor choice, your HR/CEO are cruddy and treated you completely wrong during their “investigation”. You should always conduct these things with respect to all parties and follow the “innocent until proven guilty” line of thinking. It’s gross that they caused you so much stress by being so cagey about it, when the first reason to investigate further and not just take some random strangers report as the utmost truth is because of mistaken identities.

    3. Mazzy*

      This sucks. I remember someone who was not at Charlottesville was also doxxed and harassed because he had to same name as someone who was there

    4. Lilysparrow*

      I even recall a couple of instances when the actual news media published information about mass shooters, and were identifying a totally unrelated person with the same or a similar name.

      Didn’t that happen right after Aurora? And another one – in California, I think?

      1. Brett*

        One thing I learned working public safety is that it is also an extremely common tactic to purposely pose as people on Facebook in an attempt to get them fired. At least for our employees it was probably around 90:10 for malicious fake accounts versus actual employees posting concerning content.

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      And sadly your experience is very common. Justin Smolet, ProJared, Charlotssvile Professor. All wrongly accused and tried in the court of social media before there were facts.

      1. Zillah*

        What happened to Wrongfully Accused Via FB is terrible, and I have lots of sympathy for them. It is not the same thing, however, as the situations that you’re talking about, and I’m not sure why you’re conflating them.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          They are microcosm impacts of the same behaviors.

          The source is that we feel entitled to decide someone’s worth and morality based off of one out of context post with little or no facts.

          If wrongly accused FB were a famous person, then this would have blown up to the same level as the ones I mention. There would have been people on pro fire and innocent until provien guilty because that is how this always goes.

          It’s why I am vehemently Anti doxxing and anti going to employers or the media on this sort of thing.

          It accomplishes nothing. It frequently gets it wrong, and often the doxxing victims are marginalized to boot!

          1. Zillah*

            You’re presenting a lot of “this is sometimes the case” as “this is always the case,” and it’s really problematic.

            Some people who complain to someone’s employer are doing it because they’re judging the person’s worth/morality, but it’s a pretty radical interpretation to say that they always do. Trying to get someone fired for calling you a bedbug probably falls under the category of what you’re talking about, but it’s also possible for people to just want to flag something concerning and let people with more information make the call.

            Similarly, while you can certainly disagree with both practices and even think that they come from the same source, that doesn’t make them the same thing, and it’s really problematic to present them as though they are. Whether or not this would have blown up in the scenario you’re talking about, it’s a hypothetical, because it didn’t.

            1. Phoenix Programmer*

              Ok I think I get you now.

              Your saying some people are reporting to employers out of a heightened obligation to get the coment on record in case it is, or becomes, a pattern out of a sense of public safety obligation. Is that about right?

              Which is a separate set of morals/judgement then employee shaming or sm lambasting someone because their actions are perceived bigoted.

              1. Zillah*

                Yep, exactly.

                There are a lot of things that clearly fall under “I’m trying to get this person disciplined/fired out of spite” – complaining about them calling you a bedbug on twitter, for example, or rudeness to a waiter in a restaurant.

                But there are also things – to use some super extreme examples, an ICE officer saying “the El Paso shooter had the right idea” or a nurse laughing about denying black patients appropriate medication – where I think someone might report out of a genuine concern for public safety, and when the lives/safety of people in vulnerable situations who often lack a voice are at stake, I could understand erring on the side of caution.

                And while I wouldn’t have contacted the employer in this situation and agree that the police are a better option, I don’t think it’s so unreasonable to see someone invoking gun violence specifically as a similar potential red flag in this current climate and react strongly to it. There’s a lot of genuine trauma around mass shootings and the fear of them at this point. I absolutely agree that most people who make comments like this have no intention of actually following through, but most people who carry out mass shootings do make comments like this first – and someone who writes something like that down and posts it in a public place anyway would concern me. Not, like, “this person will definitely shoot people,” but significantly higher than the average person.

    6. StaceyIzMe*

      In your case, a consultation with an attorney might have been warranted. I don’t know that it would have resolved the issue insofar as your employer was concerned. But- you have a right to be informed of matters that impact you so directly. It shouldn’t have taken multiple meetings, multiple weeks, a partridge and a pear tree to resolve something so plainly verifiable. Your employer is kind of a hot mess in this respect, in my view.

      In any case, the followup- a shame spiral is so very understandable given the circumstances that you were forced to endure. But you CAN choose to set aside the opinions of gossipy HR folks and nameless strangers. I think that it might even be a case of “you must” set it aside in the name of self-care. If you have a good relationship with a trusted mentor or an executive with some clout, you might try processing the tale in that space and see if they’d be willing to share your story as a cautionary tale. I’m truly sorry that this happened to you.

      1. pancakes*

        They were informed of the investigation by their employer, though. They weren’t given a copy of their file, and their right to that varies by state law.


        It’s a terrible situation to be accused of something one hasn’t done, of course, but it isn’t necessary, sensible, or logical to plunge into paranoia that the investigators wouldn’t be able to ascertain there were two people with similar but not identical names in the same group. I think it would be pretty unusual, too, for an employer to wrap up that sort of investigation in less than a week. A stressful week or two for sure, but going full-on paranoid about it winding up the wrong way isn’t necessary or advisable.

  31. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    With threats of violence, I think everyone who may be their victim should know, which includes their employer.

    1. NotAgain*

      That’s the thing, someone threatening gun violence is just as likely to start with their coworkers or family or an elementary school.

    2. LJay*

      I mean, with threats of violence nowadays that means anyone the person comes into contact with.

      The people at the Walmart a major city away. The people at the concert in a tourist city they’re renting a hotel room at. The people at the movie theater they go to. The people that work at the school that their mother works at. The people at the local food festival they are going to attend. The people at the yoga studio their love interest attends. The people at a night club they’ve been to once before. The church that their family attends. The people that work at their local newspaper.

    3. Phoenix Programmer*

      Here’s the thing, you have been an avid reader so I think you know about my situation.

      You think everyone needs to be warned about my nephew? He says things like that all the time. Sure he is 11 so he has some time, but even at 15 we are talking only 4 years of stability and trying to catch up. He’s non-violent but grew up in violence. Death threats are normal to him. While we try to teach him otherwise, he doesn’t yet have the emotional capacity to understand the seriousness of the words. His emotional intelligence is stunted. I seriously worry about him being a victim to this sort of thinking.

      I get where it comes from, I really do, but it’s also not lost on me that often the victims are people like my nephew amd the end result is the US is still extremely dangerous.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        As someone who was impacted by mass violence, yes this is something that needs to be addressed. These are the kids who everyone brushes off and they go “Oh he’s harmless”, until it turns out they’re not harmless at all and nobody saw it coming, no plans were in place for awful things that would unfold because “that would never happen, nobody here would ever do that!”

        I know because I was one of those people who thought that someone was harmless and just joking when they made similar comments as a kid. They are now in jail for the rest of their life and we have dead and forever wounded individuals in the community.

        I don’t think anyone needs to be fired here, I think everyone should just be on notice that it’s within them to think this way and therefore to at least have an active shooter plan because their chances are now much higher with this kind of individual around them. It’s precautionary not to oust them and drive them deeper into their darkness.

        I have compassion for your nephew and I think that given he’s been brought into safety and away from violence, he has a fighting chance to catch up emotionally. But yeah, people who are raised in violence, are more likely to be violent themselves.

        Abused individuals are higher risk to become abusers. It’s awful and another reason for mental health services to be readily available to us all.

      2. Isabel Kunkle*

        After the last ten years?

        Yes. Yes, I think we do. Since he’s a juvenile, jobs obviously aren’t an issue, but I think people need to keep him under a close eye and not let him get his hands on firearms or explosives or, frankly, cars.

        “Oh he’d never do anything, this is just about his tragic tragic past, you can’t judge…” is what all the family members say beforehand.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          Are you seriously saying that children raised in abusive situations shouldn’t be allowed to have cars? That’s some messed up “sins of the father” crap there.

          What hypocrisy. Out one side of the mouth you all proclaim to be tolerant and pro civil rights, but you think kids born to bad families should be watched like hawks amd punished forever?
          That is BS. They aren’t even the ones doing most of the shootings. Look at Las Vegas.

          1. Isabel Kunkle*

            I think people with a history of making death threats, which is not all children raised in abusive situations, shouldn’t, no. And I think people with a history of making death threats should indeed face a fair amount of scrutiny, for a fairly long time, for their actions, because I don’t want to be killed by the exception to “he’s such a nice kid really he just had a bad life”.

            I’m sorry for people, especially kids, who’ve gone through abuse. But, as per the previous post about Minerva, I don’t really care about the reasons for the behavior, I care about the behavior. If the behavior is “treats his SO badly” or “has a history with militant racist groups” or, yep, “makes death threats,” then it doesn’t matter why it’s happening.

            Your desire not to have your nephew’s feelings hurt does not matter more than my, or his classmates’, or random pedestrians’ desire not to die if you’re wrong about him, as biased family members often are.

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              Not even responding to the “blah blah so much for the tolerant left” arguments, for the record.

          2. Baru Cormorant*

            It’s not about being born to a bad family. Not everyone who suffers abuse is abusive.

            It’s about the behaviors that indicate that they themselves might be violent or abusive. Death threats, instability, violent past, low emotional intelligence so he can’t tell when people want him to stop? Those are behaviors. And yes he should be watched until he is no longer performing those behaviors.

            You can love and care for your nephew and still realize that he poses a threat to others until he gets his behavior under control.

          3. pancakes*

            I just want to point out that Las Vegas is one shooting among many, not “most of the shootings.” No, I’m not saying kids from abusive backgrounds shouldn’t be allowed to drive or etc.

  32. I suck*

    I think it was perfectly appropriate. You dont’ say that kind of stuff in public and expect to not have consequences.

    Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. People who spout this kind of dangerous garbage seem to forget that last bit.

  33. Anon123*

    I actually agree with the OP. The person threatened gun violence. Work is a huge stressor for many people, and there have been a lot of people who targeted their workplaces in the past. While this particular post wasn’t about her workplace, wouldn’t everyone be worried to work with a coworker posting anything like this? I would want to know.

  34. LL*

    I was a social media manager for two years and over the last year we started to get a lot more of these “your employee is behaving badly on Facebook” types of complaints. I’d always pass them on to HR, and if there was any hint of violence, to security, and I know for something similar to this our security team actually did investigate. There were definitely times when I felt bad about passing it on because it was just someone mad because our employee disagreed with them. I have no idea what the outcome was in any case out of the dozens I reported (we have over 100,000 employees globally), but I do know that this trend made me very depressed and was my absolute least favorite part of the job. It’s just draining to have to deal with that and sometimes people write these complaints like there isn’t a person manning the account or like you are the person who offended them. Having vitriol heaped on you when you weren’t part of the problem sucks.
    I have since left this job and my life is all sunshine and rainbows now, comparatively.

  35. aka Duchess*

    Honestly with the “you’ll be my gunshot victim” nonsense – i would have contacted the police. Wouldn’t have thought to contact the employer. Maybe I would have if i knew the person worked with kids, or for the community (police/EMS) or something like that.
    Comments like this aren’t funny. Less and less people are taking them as a joke and the only way people will learn to stop making disgusting comments like this is to report them.

  36. Some Nerd*

    A lot of commenters here seem fairly blasé about the post being made in a public forum with the employer publically visible on the person’s profile.

    If I was the employer, I would absolutely want to know if something of this nature could be credibly linked back. It’s a reputational issue for the employer, and therefore worthy of their notice imho.

    1. Roscoe*

      For me its because it takes work to go to their profile and find their employer. IF their name was “Roscoe I work at Target”, I’d agree. But once you start going through the trouble of looking for their employer, that is when it becomes a problem to me.

        1. Roscoe*

          Fine. Effort then. Whatever word you like. My point is, you had to go looking for their employer. Once you have to go digging for info, whether it takes one click or an hour, its probably further than you should be going

            1. Roscoe*

              I really feel like you are arguing semantics at this point.

              You are going to look for information that you normally wouldn’t be looking for, if not for a reason to tattle on them. You had no reason to click on their name except to find their employer. Digging, snooping, effort, whatever you want to call it doesn’t really matter

              What is your line for when its digging or not?

            2. all about eevee*

              One click to find out the employer and then another to Google the employer, and another to find a phone number and so on.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Please explain how it’s “doxxing” to click on the name someone is using on Facebook. Doxxing would be someone connecting my username here to my RL identity.

            1. Phoenix Programmer*

              I’ve heard it used to refer to digging up people’s employers too. Then finding the address to complain to the employer etc.

              It’s is not technically the same as doxxing their ip though you are correct.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I have the same instinctive response as Roscoe, that someone is ‘looking it up’, but intellectually I have to side with Det. S – one click on their FB profile is not ‘digging’. Now, if they take your name and punch it into linked in, then it’s ‘digging’.

        1. Audrey Puffins*

          Yep. If you can find the info out just by clicking and following the breadcrumb trail, then that’s not digging. As soon as you have to fire up the keyboard, you’re in too deep.

  37. Delta Delta*

    Echoing what others have said; it probably depends on the person’s employer. There was a police officer in my local area who made disparaging remarks on social media a few years ago. Someone forwarded it to his chief, and it served as a basis for his resignation. His remarks were directly related to his work and very unkind. That seemed like an appropriate time to alert an employer.

  38. Observer*

    OP- who was the one who used the term “trailer trash”? Was that what the poster said, or are they referring to what the cashier said?

    I ask because the poster was angry and the cashier for yelling and seemed to be putting themselves in the victim’s place.

    Still not ok to threaten to shoot someone, but changes the bigotry piece.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, I’m thinking the way you are–that it was likely not the FB poster referring to people as trailer trash but was instead the FB poster’s reaction to somebody screaming that.

      1. Milton’s Red Swingline*

        Yeah, this read to me the OP is more defending the ”jerk who yelled” rather than the person being upset about the yelling and saying ”if you yell at me…”

        1. fposte*

          So you think the “don’t scream at trailer trash” was being said sarcastically–don’t scream at them, shoot them? Interesting possibility.

          Either way, somebody needs to brush up the clarity of their FB comments.

          1. Lehigh*

            I *think* Milton’s Red Swingline is using “OP” to refer to the letter writer. So, the letter writer is defending the jerk who yelled, by reporting the person who got upset about it.

            1. Milton’s Red Swingline*

              Yup. This.

              Jerk: ”Yall trailer trash in this store!”
              Her (on facebook): ” If you Jerk yell at me I’m going to cap your ass!”
              OP: ( snowflake meltdown) I report Her to her boss and keep myself anonymous so Her won’t come strangle me with my intestines when I sleep after Her loses her job because Her got upset of and vented Her displeasure of Jerk.

      1. Close Bracket*

        “To the jerk at the grocery store, don’t scream at …

        We don’t know that the jerk in question was a cashier, if that’s what you are getting at. We do know that there was a screamer and that the FB poster was addressing the screamer.

      2. Observer*

        You’re right – I don’t know that and I shouldn’t have made that assumption. But my point still stands.

        It sounds like the screamer, whoever they were, was the one who was complaining about trailer trash.

        1. Milton’s Red Swingline*

          And the OP was saying if you (the screaming jerk) will scream at me, I would… act in a socially inappropriate manner (exept in USA).

  39. DaniCalifornia*

    I think this is becoming a harder thing nowadays because some family/friends/coworkers of those that commit atrocities might have seen similar posts and feel bad about not saying something after. I think the key is knowing where the line is, who the anger is directed at, the degree of how you know or know of the person, and who to report concerns to.

    I agree that it was probably too much to report the post OP saw to an employer. Reporting to Facebook or the community page’s admins would have sufficed. I would say that the line for me might be if a friend on my feed was posting manifesto like rants and I was concerned about strange behavior then I’d ask a family member/mutual friend to check on them if they didn’t respond to questions of “Hey is everything okay?” If the rants threatened any kind of violence towards themselves or others then report to police in their jurisdiction. If it’s a forum or page and I didn’t know the person I’d be reporting to Facebook or the page’s admin. My exception for people on forums/pages might be if they repeatedly were called out on hateful comments, continued to do so, and worked in a place with influence or power over a disadvantaged community.

  40. Emi.*

    I would not report this to the employer, no. If you think it’s a serious threat then it’s a police matter, but snitch-tagging people’s bosses is vindictive, rather than just (let alone safety-oriented). Caveat: if the person worked at the grocery store in question, I would alert the store along with the police because then it concerns them. But otherwise there’s no point except to threaten someone’s livelihood (and probably healthcare access).

    1. Baru Cormorant*

      If they threaten to kill people (which is an action) then it’s OK for them to lose their livelihood and healthcare access. After all, that’s what will happen to their victims.

  41. Smithy*

    I see a lot of people are saying that reporting on Facebook and reporting to the PD is a more appropriate avenue than the employer….however I’m not sure if I’d say that reporting someone – especially a strange – to the police is somehow less extreme. Depending on the local police department, whether the person posting belongs to a vulnerable community – the potential for legal impact could be extreme.

    With an employer, this may just be a mark in their HR file or a stern reprimand. If it’s a family owned business, it may be a case of “hey Donny, what are you doing – that was dumb”. I don’t think that firing is necessarily any more imminent than the police assessing the post in a measured and appropriate manner.

    What I will say is that if a situation similar to the OP’s happens again – choosing to privately contact the employer vs going public on social media and saying “Hey Company – this is how your employees are behaving on social media – what about it??” doesn’t necessarily put an employee or employer under as much heat.

    I don’t know where I would necessarily draw the line regarding going to someone’s employer or the police department – but unfortunately, I do believe that reporting to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram doesn’t do much.

    1. Emi.*

      My take is that if it’s not serious enough to be worth reporting to the police and their considerable power, you should just block them and move on.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yeah going to the police seems to be a bit much. I know that is some people’s default whenever there’s a problem but they should think of the potential repercussions. If it’s not serious enough for their employer it’s not serious enough for the cops.

    3. Mazzy*

      I agree, and when I lived in the city, the police didn’t seem to care about minor crimes (someone vandalized my building or car, for example). I’m not even sure they’d take this complaint unless they were really bored

      1. LJay*

        Yeah honestly they haven’t cared much about major ones, either.

        My house was broken into in one city, and my car was stolen in another. Both times, they came out and took a report.

        Both times, they made it pretty clear that there wouldn’t really be an investigation and that I would never see my stuff again, and that the police report existed pretty much solely for me to give to my insurance companies.

        And in a smaller city when I was illegally evicted and the landlord took and threw away all my stuff I was told that it was solely a civil matter and they wouldn’t be taking a report.

        I just don’t know what the employer is supposed to do with this information other than potentially discipline the employee with it. And that discipline won’t lessen the chance of this guy actually shooting some one, if that’s what you’re actually concerned about. All it’s going to do is serve as a way to teach this guy a lesson.

        If you’re concerned that it is an actual credible threat then the cops should be contacted as well, even if they’re not likely to do anything about it.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      OTOH, if the person is known to the police for a history of domestic violence (major common theme among mass shooters), or other escalating violent behavior, or has been busted before for illegal weapons, or inappropriate behavior with legal weapons, the police should take this seriously.

      At least where I live, the police department is swamped. They don’t have the time or manpower to SWAT people for random Facebook comments unless it’s part of a larger, serious situation that indicates real danger.

  42. mf*

    I wouldn’t have reported this person to their employer mostly because that’s probably not an effective way to stop an act of violence. If the employer fires them, then that could even escalate a planned act of violence. Probably best to report this kind of thing to the police, since they are better equipped to decide if this threat carries weight.

    Bigotry and racism is a different story. If a person is fired for racist posts, there is a chance that they may learn something from that. So in that case, I’d definitely report it to their employer.

  43. government worker*

    Interesting that this question comes up in the same week where Bret Stephens embarrassed himself by emailing a tenured professor and cc’ing his provost for calling him a bed bug.

    LW, you know you overreacted. Learn from this, mind your own and don’t do this again.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think that’s different, though. Not saying the LW didn’t overreact, just that the two situations are not quite analogous. A threat of gun violence is a far, far cry from calling someone a stupid name. Bret Stephens was absolutely ridiculous, and I can’t imagine anyone thinking differently. This situation is less cut-and-dried.

      1. government worker*

        I didn’t mean to imply that I thought the situation was directly analogous. I am saying that this week there was a huge story where someone contacted someone else’s boss about an internet remark and this week there’s a question about contacting someone’s employer about an internet remark.

        But then again, I actually don’t think the two situations are as different as you’re making them out to be. The comment the LW reported sounds like it was a self-referential redneck remark; it was a bit a la Jeff Foxworthy. It was in poor taste but I don’t believe it was a credible threat (it’s clear to me the LW didn’t think so either, as she contacted the person’s employer, not the police). It’s punitive “look what I found” nonsense and it should really stop.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          Any threat is a credible threat.
          Gun violence is worse than name calling.
          I think this is enough AskAManager for me.

          1. government worker*

            Any threat is a
            Credible threat; gun violence
            Worse than name calling

            There, now you have a haiku :)

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          In the US, a lot of people are socialized to see this particular “I’d shoot ’em” as ‘not credible’ – we swim in an ocean of violent references, so it takes a *big* wave to get our attention.

          That doesn’t make it not credible.

          It’s like all those sexist / racist comments played off with ‘it’s just a joke.’ We are *finally* starting to break through that to get people to understand, it’s not really a joke.

          It’s a test.

          It’s a test to see who will go along with you. Who will let you be racist / sexist. Who might join you in applying those -ists to other people.

          So, while I wouldn’t have sent that particular comment to an employer, I totally would have called them out and blocked them, and I can understand how someone with El Paso fresh on their mind would take the next step. If someone had made a comment like that around me within six months of Sandy Hook (my kid was in 1st grade), I might have done the same.

          1. NotAgain*

            “It’s a test.

            It’s a test to see who will go along with you. Who will let you be racist / sexist. Who might join you in applying those -ists to other people. ”

  44. Althea*

    I’m kind of surprised people think the police should know but not the employer. I’m thinking both are reasonable to report. If the person had said, “If the women at that store were rude to me, I’d rape them” would that not be something to report to the store? Is there some reason bigotry or misogyny ought to be reported, but not threats? Or are people saying it’s up to the police to determine if further action is warranted?

    I’d say it’s fine to report to both. I’m no expert to know whether someone is serious about a threat, but adult people should know better than to threaten violence. It’s not the person reporting it that “lost” them a job; it’s the person doing the reprehensible action that lost themselves the job.

    I support people being free to act as they wish outside their work hours, but I think threats are a clear exception to that freedom. Threats begin to impinge on the freedom of others by instilling fear, and that’s not okay.

    1. LJay*

      But in this case the store isn’t the employer.

      So you’re not warning the store about something that might happen on their grounds that they could take action to prevent. (By, say, banning this individual from the store, upping their security presence, etc).

      You’re warning the office building down the street about something they are completely not involved in other than that their name is on their employee’s profile page. They can’t do anything to protect the people in the store other than calling the cops themselves.

      1. Althea*

        You’re right, I’m confusing the store with the employer in my comment.

        I think it’s fair to alert the employer or the store or both, though. I’m perfectly okay with the position that threatening violence is not okay and that people around this person should be alerted if possible. If they are really joking, then they should learn not to joke like that; if they are serious in some way, it’s better that someone attempt to take action.

        1. fposte*

          I think it can make sense to alert the store in the moment–“Some of your customers are being harassed by another customer, and do you have security or should I call the cops?”–and I think FB poster should have done that rather than going home and posting about violence.

          But after the fact I’m not sure there’s much point in contacting the store. Even if they could match up a name to the person yelling, they’re not likely to ban them just based on a customer report, and it’s hard to make a ban stick if you only know who somebody is when they’re paying you.

  45. Kristine*

    Eh, I probably would have reported it. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Don’t threaten people with gun violence and you’ll be fine!

  46. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

    I think ranting about shooting up a Walmart days after someone shot up a Walmart displays really terrible judgement, at a minimum.

    Where I am (Canada) I would assume the person was a keyboard warrior and probably let it go. Depending on the employer (if they were a teacher or someone working with at risk populations, for instance) this might change.

    If I lived in the US? Both the police and the employer would be notified by me. There are more mass shootings that day’s of the year down there – and I would legit be concerned if someone had such poor judgement. Who knows what other fuckery they would get up to.

  47. Lehigh*

    Wait…so, she posted about being pissed that a jerk at the grocery store had been screaming at “trailer trash,” and that if she were the “trailer trash” being screamed at she probably would have shot someone? Is that what I’m reading?

    I don’t see a reason to report that to anyone. IDK, I know we have a lot of gun violence in this country, but “I could’ve killed him,” or “I would have shot him,” are still really common hyperbole. And for screaming at someone about being “trailer trash,” which is a good reason to be upset. (Not to literally shoot someone, obviously!)

    1. Anon123*

      I’m not sure where in the country you live, but threatening someone with gun violence is not a normal thing where I live, and I would absolutely be worried if my coworker posted anything like this on social media.

      1. Lehigh*

        I don’t really consider, “If you had done that to me, I would have shot you” to be a real threat. Actually threatening (such as, “I’m going to shoot you”) I would take much more seriously. I live in Pennsylvania, though. IDK if it’s different in other areas.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I’d have the same reaction (not serious threat), US South, liberal city in a conservative state.

          But if I lived in El Paso, or if someone had said it just after Sandy Hook, I would probably be taking it more seriously. I think that piece of the context matters.

    2. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

      This wasn’t heat of the moment ranting though – this was someone going home, logging into social media and deciding to post nonsense.

      Those are deliberate choices.

      1. Lehigh*

        Yeah, it was afterwards. It sounds like the person didn’t speak up in the moment, and went home steamed that they had just listened to someone having a screaming classist fit, and then went online to vent their feelings.

    3. Lehigh*

      Also, for those who are disturbed by it, do you happen to know a lot of people who self-identify or whom others would identify as trailer trash? I don’t per se, but from what I know of self-identified “rednecks,” which I imagine is quite a similar group, I think there may be some miscommunication between classes going on.

  48. blackcat*

    The only time I’d report something like this to an employer is if it happened while the person was working or seemed directly related to the job. Ex: one cashier says to another “Do X again and I’ll shoot you!”
    Or someone posts, “One day, I’m going to bring my gun to work to deal with customers who do X.”
    Otherwise, the only place to report threats is to the cops.

  49. CatCat*

    Be careful also on drawing conclusions from things that are not a person’s comments. I mention this because I once joined a FB group for a view that I vehemently disagree with. My purpose was to try and understand the thinking of the people who held this view so I could thinking of appropriate responses out there in the world (at the time, it was a hot topic of public discourse).

    Someone I otherwise a friendly acquaintance with got really upset that I was a member of the FB group and thought I shared the group’s views. Fortunately, she used her words and asked me directly about it. But damn, had she chosen instead to go around repeating the conclusion she had reached, it could have done serious harm to my reputation in my circle.

  50. Anita Brayke*

    I don’t know for sure, but I think a death threat (as this was) is kind of a big deal. Just my $0.02.

    1. Milton’s Red Swingline*

      It wasn’t a death threat though… could be gatting hit by random buckshot… or vaporized by an artillery piece.

  51. Anonymous in the South*

    I am against reporting these type of things to employers. It’s often said on this site that what you do when you are off (within reason) is your business, not your employers. Such as the man that wanted to take vacation time to play with his team in a video game tournament, but was denied because his boss didn’t think it was a “good enough” reason. IF that person really wanted to do something, they could have asked for a manager and reported it while they were at the store.

    I think I have posted before about a coworker who had their Twitter account hacked and didn’t notice because they made it years ago and did not use it very much. The hacker made several inappropriate comments on a post (Tweet?) that a woman about put up about her vagina and other inappropriate comments on other posts. Those got reported to our HR and that person was fired without even being give the opportunity to defend themselves. They had electronic communication to show as soon as they realized what had happened they reported it to Twitter and got the account blocked/deleted, but again, they were not given the opportunity to defend themselves. (The firing happened 10 days after the reports) People on social media got upset so this persona had to be fired to make them happy.

    If everything thing that upset someone got reported to our jobs, we would all be unemployed.

  52. fortheloveofspreadsheets*

    I think either could be okay. I would feel compelled to report it, but I would feel uncomfortable reporting this to my local police department. The benefit of reporting it to an employer is they have context on the person’s behavior to know whether involving the authorities might be necessary.

    At the very least the org then has the opportunity to tell the employee to disassociate themselves from their employer online.

  53. Shawn*

    I agree that we need to call bigots out on EVERYTHING. We have been silent too long and I feel it has led us to where we are now. If we don’t speak up, who will? That being said, I’m not sure if I would have let her employer know or not. I think I’d have to have more history on this woman. Has it happened before? Is she showing other violent tendencies? If yes to those questions then yeah, I may have done the same. Either way, a screen shot and a report to the local police were most definitely warranted. Heck, I might even be tempted to share the screen shot with the grocery store so they are aware. It’s time the bigots step out from behind their white hoods and have their faces shown.

    1. Mazzy*

      I don’t think using the term trailer trash had any of the connotation you’re using in the last sentence, since no specific demographic is targeted (though it’s most often white people, but that doesn’t matter since the term is both about class and lifestyle). Also, where have you been that we’ve been silent for so loony? I see a media reaming the president for comments. I saw the CEO of a large publicly traded pizza change resign due to a comment he made. I’ve seen quite a few rallies in my nearest city, now but also going back decades.

    2. Brian*

      Yes, I agree. Hate speech and speech implying violence have become normalized into today’s world.

      1. NotAgain*

        They’ve been normalized in this country since before we were a country. The push-back against violent speech against women and other minority groups is the part that’s new.

        1. fposte*

          It’s also part of figurative speech and hyperbole in general, not just a particular violent tendency. I think specific phrases can get normalized more than others (it took me a while to get used to “DIAF,” I’ll admit) , but it’s also going to be tough to remove such an ingrained area of figurative speech from our daily use.

  54. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    This is sort of a tangent, but I’m surprised that people put their employer on their FB profile; it seems like asking for trouble, especially nowadays. My FB profile has nothing but my name, a couple of dates, and one relative. Anyone who needs to know anything else either already knows it or can ask me themselves.

    1. I suck*

      Same, I’m always surprised that people are able to track down employers. I wish someone would contact Pearson Spector Litt looking for me.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Groups, events. I’m in a worldwide group and have friends all over the country, or at least in the 500 mile radius. FB is a way to keep in touch. I post almost nothing on my own feed and my profile photo is one of my grandcats.

      2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        I’m on it less and less often. Mostly I use it for Messenger and for some groups I follow.

      3. NotAgain*

        I check in every couple of months for the group pages I like and that’s it. It’s just not worth it.

      4. Watry*

        I don’t want to be. But I’ve got a few people I’m not super close to anymore, but I’d still regret not knowing what’s going on in their lives. Also, we don’t get cell service in our work building, so having Messenger means I can get messages that aren’t urgent enough for a phone call, but that they want me to see before I leave. Max time from sending a text while I’m at work to me actually receiving it: 3 days.

    2. Roscoe*

      Yeah, I kind of stopped putting my employer on after my last job. People are such busy bodies these days, its not worth it.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My FB profile has my real job title because, two years ago, I found out while creating a Tinder account that it uses whatever job title you have listed on your Facebook. Mine was “CEO of Rats and Cats, LLC” which was what showed on my Tinder profile, and was awkward. (Now that I don’t plan to go back on it, I should probably change my title back). I do not however list the employer on my profile. I was always terrified of doing that.

      That said, I remember reading a letter on here about someone who’d gotten into an argument in a FB comment session, and the person she’d argued with had looked her up on LinkedIn (she did not have the employer listed on FB), and reported her to her current employer, that she had listed on LinkedIn (as we all do)! Almost makes one wonder if it’s time to stop using our real names on FB, too.

  55. Gdub*

    My question for Alison is this: What would you do if you got this report about one of your employees?

    1. big X*

      What is your suggestion then? I would absolutely want a racist or bigot ousted, especially if they are in a sensitive role like a school official/counselor, medical professional, prosecutor/public defender/judge or anything else that can severely impact the life of another human who has done nothing wrong other than be born a way that someone else doesn’t seem to like.

      Why do they deserve to be protected from consequence? This is the same logic that gets (typically rich & white) men off from all sorts of charges – “Oh, but what about his future? It was just a little mistake! Surely, you can get over it?”

  56. Happy Pineapple*

    I believe threats of violence or overt bigotry posted to public forums are fair play to share with anyone who might be troubled or affected by it. I’ve taken screenshots of strangers’ public Facebook comments and sent them to their publicly listed employers on three occasions, and I’m confident it was the right choice. The first two were people saying disgustingly hateful/violent things about a particular race while also likely working with that population in their jobs. The other was a daycare provider who said she’d physically abuse any children that she thought might not be heterosexual.

  57. I suck*

    I really think a lot of the time it’s situational. There was a video on FB of an elderly woman being punched in the face by someone, and most of the commenters were aghast. Except for one woman who said the old woman deserved it for standing too close to the person and that she would have done the same. Scary thing was, the woman who made the comment was a nurse herself and mentioned working with old people. I feel like this was the perfect example of when it would’ve been appropriate to report htem to the employer. Someone who says they work with older people, and are in FAVOR of an elderly person being assaulted, will definitely make me wonder if they’re committing elder abuse. I wish it had occurred to me to report.

  58. goducks*

    I disagree with Alison’s last paragraph: “But I do think there are things where it’s reasonable to do that — for example, overt racism or other bigotry from someone who works with disadvantaged populations or someone making what sounds like a genuine threat of workplace violence.”
    I think bigotry is a problem for any employer, any time. Everyone works in a workplace where they interact with people who are from historically disadvantaged populations. Workplaces have a duty to ensure the safety and freedom from discrimination of all their staff. If a person is expressing bigoted opinions on social media, there’s no way that their opinions aren’t coloring their interactions in the workplace. It’s a big deal, even if they don’t work serving disadvantaged populations.

    1. government worker*

      What do you disagree with? She’s saying bigotry is an instance where it should always be reported to the employer.

      1. goducks*

        The sentence seems to say it’s only worth reporting when the person works with disadvantaged persons (perhaps a doctor/teacher/social worker, I’m guessing). I’m saying it’s always reportable. There is no place for bigotry in a workplace.

  59. Jennifer*

    +1 I think that the fact that she reported it to the employer instead of the cops shows she didn’t think it was a real threat. If she really thought this person was headed to the grocery store with a gun, she would have called the police AND probably the store if she knew which one they were referring to.

  60. Anon for this one*

    Yeah, I’ve been on the social media manager end of this – and most of the stuff that people send to companies on social media about their employees is complete crap. “Someone disagreed with my opinion and called me a dirty word/your employee called me out for my bigotry and I DON’T LIKE THAT!” crap. I’m obligated to forward that stuff on to HR, because if my manager sees that I didn’t I could possibly get in trouble, but when I send it to my contact I usually say “I’m so sorry to bug you with this.”

    That being said, and this seems to be kind of an unpopular opinion, I feel like this one is more of a tangible threat. It’s not vague “I’d have been violent!” stuff, it’s actually a tangible threat of violence. Would I have reported this myself? No, probably not… but having had a loved one perish in a mass shooting that caused national outrage, I get the ‘why’ behind reporting it. And I do feel like if you’re going to report someone’s violent rhetoric to their employer, you also need to tell the police.

    One report I got was one of our higher ranking employees, on a public Facebook post, telling a person of Jewish faith/descent during an argument that “it looks like [the Nazis] missed you!” when she stated her ancestors had been in a concentration camp. I would say that one was my first non-crap report… but I’m sure there are lots of people out there who wouldn’t have reported it and just let it roll off their back, and that’s not for me to judge! Everyone’s tolerance for peoples’ comments is different, and it’s not for me to say it’s not okay for someone to be offended by something.

    1. HRAwry*

      There was a time at a previous employer that I was inundated with reports like this and depending on the severity we would have to launch an investigation. More often than not, the comments weren’t great but we still have to follow our processes.

      The thing is though it’s all contextual and there is a difference between a rude comment and threats of violence, racism etc… but it normally fell on the line of, “this comment was inappropriate.”


    How did you find out their employer? Were they posting from their employer’s FaceBook ID? Or did you cyberstalk them? If you cyberstalked them, how rude!

    1. Joielle*

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the sense that you’re not that familiar with how Facebook works. If someone has their employer listed as public information on Facebook, all you have to do to find that info is click on their name (which is right next to the comment they made).

      “Cyberstalking” doesn’t have a generally-agreed-upon definition, but it has to do with harassing someone electronically (e.g. sending them threatening messages), not just finding information about them. (If anything, that might be considered doxxing – but that’s well beyond what happened here, which is just looking at readily-available public information.)

    2. Cranky Neighbot*

      Sometimes you find out without even looking at a person’s profile, depending on where they’ve commented and what their privacy settings allow to show. But if you check someone’s profile and they’ve chosen to

      1. list their employer
      2. make that publicly visible instead of friends-only or private

      That’s hardly cyberstalking.

  62. John*

    My question to the LW is this: Why is this something you’re reporting to the employer, and what action or response are you expecting from the employer?

    In my experience, the answers to those questions tend to guide whether or not this is a good idea. If you’re genuinely concerned about harm and the person may be putting people in harm’s way at their job, then yeah maybe report. If you’re looking to punish someone for making a joke that’s in bad taste… maybe there are more compassionate interventions to make before trying to ruin someone’s career over a bad moment in social media.

  63. Jaguar*

    I often wonder, when people contact someone’s employer because of something that person posted online, how much the person is motivated to fix the problem (violence, racism, whatever) and how much the person is motivated by having power over that person. Like, do you want the person to grow out of their character flaws or do you want them to be punished? I can’t help think it’s the latter in basically all cases, and I find it pretty disgusting.

  64. big X*

    The post writer seems to be self-identifying as ‘trailer trash’ so I don’t think they are ‘disparaging the poor.’ That said, how tacky. In general but especially with the timing being around two major shootings that happened within less than a day of each other. Personally, I can’t stand these Online Badasses – if they really cared, they would have gone to the store management because a cashier yelling at a customer is…wow.

    LW, you definitely did more than I would in going straight to the employer but the post writer made a conscious choice that someone would see it on a public page (not even their private profile) and that someone would object. LW objected, especially considering the timing of the post. The FBI has seen a 70% surge in tips in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso shootings so LW’s behavior isn’t completely unjustified.

  65. LawBee*

    I”m in the minority here, possibly, but I don’t see that (paraphrased) comment as any kind of legitimate threat. It reads to me as a dashed-off vent that was likely forgotten the moment the poster hit send. Super generic language about who was yelling – the poster here isn’t going to go home, grab a gun, and track down the jerk at the checkout lane and shoot him.

    I would have given it a solid eyeroll and moved on, and not reported it to anyone. IMO, it was the timing of it that struck LW so hard, understandably.

    1. Asenath*

      I think it was nothing more than a vent in support of the “trailer trash” and against the “jerk” (store employee?) who had shouted at the people. I wouldn’t have reported it to anyone. If I had been the person who saw the bad behaviour, maybe I would have said something in the moment or reported it to the store management. I might possibly have gone home and vented to someone I knew that I was so angry “I could have killed them” and neither I nor anyone I know would have taken that as a real threat. There is no way on earth that I would have reported it to the poster’s employer, since I see it as just a bit of an emotional rant and not a real threat.

  66. Amethystmoon*

    I would agree that the post should have been reported to FB to let the mods look at it. But, people do need to take responsibility for things they post on social media in the first place. If you don’t want your boss finding out something, don’t put it out there because odds are, they will find it some way or another.

  67. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

    If you were genuinely worried about safety, I’d contact the police. If not, you’re really just tattling. I worked in corporate marketing for a very large US retailer and we constantly got posts on social media about things our store employees did that were obnoxious in some way–many of them not at the store! As if the people monitoring a giant company’s social media were going to get someone fired because we expected all 500k of our employees to be gleaming examples of humanity.

    1. Cranky Neighbot*

      Agreed. I don’t think contacting their employer is necessarily wrong here, but if you’re genuinely concerned about violence, contact the police.

  68. LGC*

    I’m actually in agreement with that. (I mean, I’ve engaged in my own share of bad online behavior – every time I see Justine Sacco pop up online, I cringe a little for laughing at Has Justine Landed Yet – but I hope I’ve done a bit better in recent years.) Although employers have gotten a little bit more internet savvy in recent years, you’re still potentially costing someone a paycheck. (Even though that someone said something that’s reprehensible!)

    I feel like the bar might be a little lower if it’s a coworker, and the fact that they had their place of employment easily accessible is another point of concern.

    (And on my starting note because I feel like someone is going to say she deserved it: what she said was really terrible and racist. But I think at the same time, a large part (if not most) of the response was in anticipation of her finding out she was fired, which makes me uncomfortable now.)

      1. LGC*

        I mean, it was funny to me at the time! But also she lost her job over a (granted, really racist and offensive) tweet! But also, she was doing PR at the time, so really she of all people should have known better!

        I have really conflicting feelings about this.

  69. MyDogWantsToGoOutButI'mTyping*

    I’m just confused about why this was reported to an employer at all. It wasn’t posted by, or on behalf of, the company. It was a personal post, using a personal account, to a local community group. So for that reason, I’d call this a very inappropriate response, and I’m not sure what it might accomplish.

    That said, if this seemed like something worthy of follow-through, the police would be the correct route. I’d call the non-emergency line, let them know about it, ask if they want a link or screen shot, and go on with my life.

    If there’s a legitimate safety concern, let the authorities handle it.
    Otherwise, it’s just someone being offended by something they read on social media and randomly alerting the poster’s employer – so weird.

  70. Anon for this one*

    I think it’s absolutely reasonable to report someone’s online behaviour to an employer if it’s relevant to their work: a daycare worker posting favourably about child abuse, a social worker posting about how much he hates Black people, “If I have to work one more Saturday, I’m going to shoot up the place.” But I also see, more and more, people using employer reports as a way of avoiding dealing with something themselves, and it’s often people who live with tons of privilege. I’m a wealthy, educated white woman. If someone I know is posting “I’m not racist, but…” then my first port of call shouldn’t be to make her employer slap her hand, it should be to engage her and use all the persuasive tools at my disposal to try to shut that shit down. There are tons of hard-case bigots out there who will never change their mind, but there are reams of research and personal testimonies that show, time and time again, that a significant proportion of bigotry comes from people who are essentially fence-sitters, who are saying hateful things out of ignorance and laziness and because nobody ever tells them to their face that they disagree.

    To me, it’s the difference between saying “Whoa, that was super racist” to someone who tells a racist joke and going and getting someone else to talk to the person for you. If you’re the target of the joke, or if you otherwise have cause to feel unsafe, I get it, no problem. But if you’re sitting around with all the privilege in the world, it’s on you to use your grown-up voice and talk to the person about it. Odds are part of the reason they’re doing it is because they think everyone in their audience agrees with them, and you can make a change just by letting them know that’s not true. If you were at the movies with someone and they said something racist while wearing a t-shirt with the company logo on it, would you call their employer when you got home? If not, why would you do it for a Facebook post?

  71. Bookartist*

    Has no one here seen or read “Twelve Angry Men”?

    Juror No. 8, softly “You don’t really mean you’ll kill me, do you?”

    Sorry but LW is a Nosey Parker who took the hyperbolic rant of a keyboard warrior way too seriously. Now someone gets to not have a job anymore because some stranger was all wrapped up in their own head while browsing social media.

    1. Eillah*

      Considering there are multiple mass shootings in the USA every single day? It’s really not an overreaction.

      1. Classroom Diva*

        There are not “multiple mass shootings in the USA every single day” UNLESS you count robberies, bank heists, gang violence, lover’s quarrels, and such. While there ARE more actual mass shootings then there were in the past (when we had just as many guns, btw), there are not “many per day” (or even per year) unless you include things that really don’t belong in the category. (Other criminal acts of violence are often included by those who need/want to inflate the numbers for political or other reasons.

        It is simply not appropriate to treat a stranger shooting as many people as they can to get attention the same as you do a gang fighting another gang or a mistreated lover killing the object of their affection and then themselves. Police officers know this. We just got training on it in school–I’m a teacher. Such other violent things are not “mass shootings” but are included by some people with agendas.)

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          It’s not ‘multiple mass shootings every day,’ but it is ‘mass shootings daily’ in 2019. Hyperbole, but not an unreasonable stretch.

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            But where are you getting that data and what precisely is it measuring? I think Diva is referencing the CBS article which pulls data from the nonprofit “Gun Violence Archive.” They define a mass shooting as, “any incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter,” which would include things that aren’t relevant to the scope of this argument, like robberies and gang violence. I currently have not been able to find data that quantified mass shootings independent of those variables.

            The point I think Diva is trying to make is that it is only “mass shootings daily” when you include crimes that aren’t relevant to an argument about internet gun threats and that when you examine specifically mass shootings related to hate crimes or internet threats, the number is significantly decreased (which I can’t speak to, since I can’t find any data on it as of this post).

        2. Zillah*

          Fine: considering that mass shootings have become common enough that children are being traumatized by active shooter drills when they should be learning.

        3. SB*

          hi, the term “lover’s quarrels” is a really terrible and harmful way to describe intimate partner violence.

          1. Isabel Kunkle*


            While I’m here and avoiding laundry, describing the assholes who kill their partners–many of whom are abuse victims trying to get away, some of whom weren’t even involved with their murderer except in said murderer’s head–as “mistreated” is also nineteen different kinds of gross and wrong.

        4. Audrey Puffins*

          “As of July 31, 2019, 248 mass shootings have occurred in 2019 that fit the inclusion criteria of this article. This averages out to 1.2 shootings per day. In these shootings, 979 people were injured and 246 died (for a total of 1,325 victims).”

          Tbh, even one mass shooting a day is too many, but sure, get hung up on how 1.2 doesn’t mean multiple because reasons I guess.

    2. Anon9*

      We’ve read it but that’s a play – controlled by the playwright and written to prove a point that the latter believes in. The beginning of the play even gives a distinct description of all their personalities, representing the various (almost extreme) types of mindsets.

      When Juror No. 3 is lunging at No. 8, he could very well have harmed him to the point of death if the others were not holding him back, esp when you consider No. 3 is described as having a streak of sadism. When No. 8 points out that “you don’t really mean to do that,” he’s appealing to No. 3’s logic in a moment of emotion. No. 3 cannot admit he would actually kill him so he has to resign to No. 8’s point: saying something doesn’t mean you will do it. The latter point is true and we all know this but the problem with that scene for me (and this is why using a play as an example is off-base) that when it comes to No. 3 *as described*, I’d believe he, in a fit of rage, probably could kill someone.

      No. 8 is just doing what he can to prove a point to No. 3 himself, going as far as to intentionally provoke him into saying the same thing No. 3 is trying to crucify the suspect for. I don’t think we as an audience are supposed to believe that No. 3 isn’t capable of following through, but No. 3 is so entrenched in his hate for the suspect’s background that this was how No. 8 was supposed to prove it to No. 3 that he and the suspect may not be so different after all.

  72. Alton*

    I think my line is whether or not someone’s online behavior relates to their job and whether their employer would be the logical party to address it. For example, if the person making the flippant shooting comments were a police officer, I might be more inclined to report it since police carry guns and need to take the possibility of using them very seriously. I would feel unsafe around a police officer who openly talked about wanting to shoot people who annoyed them. But in most cases, I wouldn’t find it productive to report someone to their employer. I figure that if they’re dumb enough to list their employer on their profile and post inflammatory or unprofessional comments publicly, then it may catch up to them eventually. Unless it’s something that I really think their employer should address, I probably wouldn’t report them.

    In this case, I may have reported the comment to Facebook. If I felt it was a credible threat, I might have called the police non-emergency line.

  73. Classroom Diva*

    The post was a poor one. But, I believe you misread it OP (and many others too). The person was *defending* the “trailer trash”–not disparaging them. As a teacher, it is important for me to teach subtext, including inference. The poster was saying, “You’re a jerk! You think you can mistreat people just because YOU see them as trailer trash. I wish you’d try it with me (who presents, probably, as the opposite of trailer trash), and you would see what you’d get!”

    Just sayin’. We often assume a lot about someone without really (and I mean *really*) reading what they are actually saying. Words can take on the meaning WE give them, if we’re not very careful.

  74. StaceyIzMe*

    On the one hand, once a post or comment is “out there”, others may react or share the content as they deem fit. So, as a natural consequence, if you post something violent, inappropriate or egregious, it’s possible that your employer, spouse, faith group, alma mater or community group may distance themselves, sanction you or terminate the relationship (fire you, divorce you, disenroll you from membership). It’s painful, but it’s hard to say “hey! I said this bad thing but you shouldn’t react!”
    On the other hand, some really extreme versions of this have played out. Doxxing, the sharing of someone’s post or personal information and inciting violence or severe opprobrium (especially if the data is flawed- see Nick Sandman) is one example. Holding someone’s photos and threatening to publish them unless a bribe is paid. Cyber attacks on city and business entities whereby computers are frozen and records are rendered inaccessible until a ransom is paid. These are more extreme versions of acting on the posts or identity of someone else with extreme malice.
    On balance you can react to someone’s post and there’s no bar that requires you to fear imminent harm before you can report or share. I don’t think anyone posting in a publicly accessible forum can make much ado about that. But- it becomes unethical, even criminal, when the goal is to “take someone down” because you simply disagree with them (or want to profit from their misery).

  75. Zillah*

    I think that a broader threat of violence outside of the workplace – e.g., “I would drop someone who did that to me” or even “they can go die in a ditch” – isn’t something one should generally report to an employer.

    However, I also think that there are exceptions around sensitive topics, and right now, gun violence is one of those topics. People panic because they mistake a car backfiring for a gunshot, and little kids have active shooter drills in school. Comments that either actively invoke that fear or are “just” cavalier about it are scary; I would definitely start avoiding a store if I heard a customer talking about shooting people who annoyed them.

    Given that… I mean, I don’t think one has any moral obligation to say something to the employer, but I also don’t think the person who made the comment really has the grounds to complain about if someone does.

    1. Isabel Kunkle*

      Thank you, yeah. I’m not hugs-and-flowers in my rhetoric–I’ve used FOAD or DIAF a time or seventy, I’ve talked about wanting to stab people who play music on the subway without headphones, etc. But…in a place and time where there were daily, multiple-fatality incidents of arson or strangers being stabbed or, I dunno, death after fucking off, I would probably tone any and all of those waaaaay down.

      Like, my friends and I used to joke about “oh, I can totally hit [Vile Ex] with a car anytime,” but that has largely stopped after 2015-2016, both because more people might have trauma around that (same reason you don’t make as many “your mom” jokes once you get into your thirties and forties) and because, well, it might not come off as joking to a casual observer.

      And gun violence is not a new thing. If Poster Lady hasn’t learned to read the damn room by now, it’s time she learned.

  76. Duvie*

    The problem with only reporting “genuine” threats of violence is that most of us aren’t trained to differentiate real threats from hyperbole, and the consequences of being wrong can be catastrophic. There’s also no way to tell if this is a first and isolated threat, or another in a growing list of troubling statements. That said, I wouldn’t have reported this to her employer, but instead would have brought the post to the attention of the police.

  77. Bend & Snap*

    I actually did this recently—my first and only time. The person called me a disgusting, misogynistic name in a conversation about women on Facebook, and had his employer listed. Boom.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Actually, it sounds like what you did is pretty different. You had a personal vendetta against someone and decided to escalate by threatening their livelihood. Arguably an overreaction, but hey, your fight.

      What OP did was report on the behavior of a stranger without context or history. I actually think that’s a very different moral calculus.

      1. Observer*

        Someone called her a disgusting name and SHE’S the one with “a vendetta”? Interesting inversion.

  78. deesse877*

    I agree with other posters above that a decision about reporting online behavior should be based on the answers to three questions:
    1) Is a threat of violence credible?
    2) Is an expression of bigotry/racism/homophobia/etc likely to harm vulnerable people?
    3) If yes for (1), (2), or both, what person or institution is best placed to immediately investigate and halt dangerous behavior?

    The only thing I’d add is, it’s a good idea to define “vulnerable people” very broadly, and especially to remember that not everyone is immediately identifiable as not straight, not white, low-income, disabled, etc. In other words, don’t just imagine a confrontation when you picture the effects of bigotry; think also about what has a chilling effect, or inspires people to pass/closet themselves.

    1. Aquawoman*

      I don’t think the LW is or should be put into a position where they have to ascertain the credibility of the threats of violence. I also think threats of violence themselves, whether credible or not, are inherently harmful. It’s not good for anyone to live in a society where threats of violence are an acceptable way of expressing opinions to the point where we need to default to assuming that they’re not credible.

  79. Scion*

    I think I’d actually be more likely to report a threat of violence (which this was) than bigotry.

  80. Althea*

    Something that confuses me about Alison’s answer is that in the past she’s had the position that misogyny, racism, and bigotry cross a line, and that it should be reported to the employer even if the behavior was outside of work. But here a threat is treated differently and I’m not sure why. I’m trying to recall the posts that involve this, but I’m blanking.

    1. fposte*

      Not meaning to speak for Alison, but I think the question here is differentiating between a credible threat of violence and more common internet toughguyism. There’s no specific identifiable target for the threat, for one thing (the FB poster doesn’t even know who this person is, and my inference is that it’s about this person as an example but not the only example). Could you differentiate it from the occasional posts here about sexual harassment in the office when somebody says “Any man who tried that would me would [insert violence here]?”

      1. Althea*

        The recipient and observers of internet “toughguyism” don’t know whether or not a threat is real; that’s part of the reason they are frightening and unacceptable. It’s common for bigots and others to intimidate people, but when called out to say they’re only joking/not serious. It doesn’t make those “jokes” acceptable and is just one more form of exerting power and excusing it after the fact.

        I don’t think defending your body against certain types of harassment is comparable, if we are talking about a harasser getting physical and an answering physical response. It’s not okay to respond to harassing words with physical violence, though.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s a different point, though–whether it’s acceptable is a different question from whether it should be reported to somebody’s employer despite happening outside of work. Something can be unacceptable and, IMHO, still not be something it’s reasonable to bring an employer in to police.

          And I read the FB post as somebody seeking to *defend* people against prejudice and harassment (I think the OP misread it). I still don’t think it’s an acceptable post. Whether I would have reported it to that person’s employer would probably depend on the exact words and that person’s job, but not everything unacceptable has an effective corrective without its own risks.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My position in the past has been in support of employers who decide to fire people for bigotry, which is a different thing from contacting a stranger’s employer to report them over a bigoted remark.

      1. Althea*

        How does this jive? It’s okay to respond to the commentary with firing, but not okay for someone outside the company to report it? How do you expect the company to take an action if you don’t think there should be reports of the behavior from outside work time?

  81. Bertha*

    I was thinking about this, and while on the one hand I felt it was a little bit over the top, I started thinking about other situations where I’ve seen this happen and people will take a screenshot and then post it to the company’s page and then try to make it go “viral,” or write negative reviews on Yelp… I don’t think writing to the employer was the right thing to do, but at least you didn’t just try to spread it all over the internet like some folks do. Just sending it to the employer may not have really mattered at all – I think even AAM has had a post about someone saying that they were “reported” to their employer and nothing happened, but they were still concerned. I had a friend “reported” to her employer and nothing happened.

  82. Oxford Comma*

    I am unclear on who the employee is identifying with, but the reference to “you would be my gunshot victim” is what puts this in the tell the police category.

    It’s 2019 and I think it’s quite possible that the police may do nothing or laugh at this, which many of you have pointed out, but in theory, they are the people who should be handling this.

    1. Watry*

      Caveats: I am not actually an officer, your city/county/state/province/country may differ, etc.

      I work for a police department (I’m a civilian paper-pusher who deals with the public, please no one vent their feelings about PDs on me) and no, they totally wouldn’t do anything about this, because it wouldn’t be considered a valid threat, especially without a history. It’s hypothetical, they aren’t saying “I will shoot you” or anything along those lines, they’re saying “If X happened, I would shoot you”.

      1. Brian*

        Right and just like the Allen, Texas police department ignored the concerns of the El Paso shooter’s mother, I’m sure that practice will work out well. (just Google News search “Allen PD El Paso”)

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I’m bowing to your expertise without question. I’m just so tired. There are days when I hate the world and this is one of them. I remember a time when you could leave your house and not have to be worried about being shot by some crazed gunman.

  83. Brian*

    I’ve told this story before in the AAM comment but there is a BigLaw firm headquartered in Milwaukee who received a packet from an anti-hate activist group informing them that their office handyman (who had worked there 20 years) was posting in dark web message boards very hateful anti-semitic and racist things, and this activist group had been able to determine his identity from what he posted. The law firm ended up terminating the employee.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Looks like the anti hate group had a LOT more evidence to support their conclusion than the OP

      1. Brian*

        They did their own investigation and found he had accessed some of these sites from work computers. He had also made specific references to other employees in his postings that were documented by the activist group (ie: “I work with a bunch of lawyers.”)

      2. Zillah*

        … right, but both presented the information they had. It’s not like the employer wasn’t aware of the evidence and would’ve treated these two situations exactly the same.

  84. Engineer Girl*

    I find it terrifying that so many are willing to take retribution when they don’t have near enough facts. You don’t have context, degree, etc. The OP wasn’t there. And it was a single post, so we can’t see it in context with others. Is there a pattern? Talk about jumping to conclusions!!

    If you see a safety issue then report it to the police for investigation. You should always investigate before taking action.

    1. Aquawoman*

      Why do you assume it’s retribution? She thought something needed to be done and so she sent the information to an entity that would have an interest and ability to investigate. I think the police would probably have been a better call, but the employer is not outside the realm of possibility. Do you really think every company just instantaneously fires anyone who they get a complaint or report about?

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Well, not every company, but some do for some positions.

        There are job positions (especially some of the most vulnerable on the lowest rungs of the social ladder) where a manager would just as soon fire an employee at the first whiff of trouble rather than go through any sort of investigation or due process. Think warehouse workers and mailroom clerks. Often managers have no time for such things, and frankly little incentive. It’s much easier to hire one of the 10 people that will walk through the door the next day as a replacement.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I was falsely accused on my job after I made one of my reports redo his work. He was really misogynistic and didn’t want to work for a woman. They investigated and the findings were that I was the only person that had acted correctly and appropriately.

          It didn’t matter. I was now on HRs list.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        It’s retribution because the OP is taking a huge negative action because of something someone posted.
        They’re not trying to investigate (or refer for investigation). They went straight for action because’they didn’t like the post.

    2. Zillah*

      But I think the issue with waiting to see if there’s a pattern can sometimes stop you from spotting one.

      When I was a teenager, there was a guy on a message board I was on who just always kind of gave me the creeps. There wasn’t something really obvious, it was just a feeling. Everyone else seemed to like him, so I assumed I was being paranoid. When I finally tentatively mentioned it to someone else, they were like, “oh my god – you too??” After comparing notes and reaching out to other friends, we realized that the things that seemed a bit off in isolation were part of a pattern that was really problematic and toxic.

        1. Zillah*

          Yes, some 14-18 year old girls “took action” by lowkey cautioning people to stay away from him after years of him doing really inappropriate things because the people in charge weren’t interested when a few girls did try to say “hey, he’s making me feel uncomfortable” to them. We shouldn’t have needed to “investigate.” We should’ve just been able to tell the people in positions of authority when we started to feel very uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that they should take extreme action after one complaint, but it does mean that they should’ve been the ones looking for and taking actions based on an emerging pattern.

  85. Brett*

    One thing I learned in previous job in public safety is that it is incredibly common for people to pose as someone else on Facebook in order to try to get that person fired, arrested, or even swat raided. The real bigots use fake names and fake employers. When it is a real employer listed on someone posting bigotry or threats, it is often a fake account intentionally created for the express purpose of getting that person fired. When there are home addresses and phone numbers too, especially coupled with threats of violence, there is a good chance the account is a cloned fake intended to get that person arrested or worse. Cloning accounts, duplicating all of their public information into a new account is trivial (but you can look for subtle things like a lack of friends, no family members, and lower quality pictures). Employers easy targets because they are more likely to act first to protect reputation and have less investigative tools available to determine the truth compared to the police (that’s why fakers who want the police involved jump straight to active threats of imminent violence).

  86. Mine Own Telemachus*

    This will get buried, but:

    I’ve been the employee reported before. I’m politically very liberal and an out queer, and live in a congressional district represented by a person who many on the right do not like. After pointing out falsehoods in the posts of several very right wing personalities (they were saying things about my city that aren’t true and never have been), they accused me of being a ringleader of antifa, sending them death threats. I didn’t, obviously, but this still encouraged someone to reach out to my employer and inform them I should be fired. It made my life hell for a month.

    So I think the thing we need to be aware of here is that any tactic we use to provide public consequences to bigotry can and will be used by the bigots themselves to silence those they oppose.

    1. Aquawoman*

      I’m sorry that happened to you, but honestly, it’s the other way around. Bigots and misogynists were doxxing people for years (see: Anita Sarkasian) and progressives picked up on it, though with fewer violent death threats.

  87. blink14*

    Everybody says stupid and inappropriate things to varying degrees. Now, social media, and the internet in general, preserves these comments and often provides a venue to say something a person would never say out loud in public or directly to someone else. I think that’s created an uneasy place where it’s very difficult to interpret if what’s being said is just a hot headed moment, or if there is true direction behind it. Where and when is it appropriate to take action against statements made on social media, and when is there too much of an overreaction to something genuinely just thoughtless vs. violent?

    Given that this person is a total stranger, I would have reported it to the Facebook page admin first or flagged the post as inappropriate. Second step would be to report it to the store (if the actual name was mentioned), for safety of their employees. I also would have only focused on the violence aspect of the comment – that’s the most important part to both the store and the commenter’s employer.

    I do think you went too far, too quickly, but the intention was in the right direction.

  88. CBLib*

    I once reported a teacher to her principal and the school board because she was complaining about a non-English speaking parent for sending in a letter in Spanish. It was nasty and the comments that followed from her friends were even worse. She made no effort to shut them down. The disparagement of a parent who was making their best effort to communicate with her child’s teacher broke my heart. I know her employers addressed it because she later posted about it on Facebook.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t have a strong opinion on what the OP did. But what you are describing is very different. I have no doubt that you did the right thing. This teacher was totally failing her job and being a jerk about the children in her care. That is TOTALLY relevant to her job and her employer.

  89. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My dude, if we reported every off color or “bad” thing a person did online, I think there would be something on all of us! Just think about how far you want this to go.

    I have had a really stressful past week, and I need to work on my anxiety, so I am afraid I have been rude or short online and to customer service people.

    No racism or swearing at people, but saying about some reality TV people, “I might suck, but at least I’m not THEM!”, and showing annoyance and frustration without using ad hominem attacks when I was dealing with my car insurance and the Apple store (sighing, impatience, going “Really?” when told I had to wait two days for a phone fix).

    I have similar problems when I fly. Due to sensory issues and anxiety around touch, I cannot remain in a seat where the stranger next to me would not fit fully in theirs. Seems really rude and I worry about being filmed as some fatphobic jerk, though I am only looking out for my needs.

    Obviously ongoing racism or a credible threat to work itself is a problem one should alert employers to…but please just ignore mere rudeness or one-offs. You don’t know how someone is doing when they post.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      No one is talking about reporting every off-color comment a person makes– that’s quite a stretch! I can’t speak for the LW, obviously, but I seriously doubt that if the FB post was only complaining about a jerk in a grocery store, it wouldn’t even register. It’s the mention of “gunshot victim” that muddied these waters, for better or for worst.

      I hardly think anyone really cares about someone’s non-violent bad mood posts.

  90. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    No, I would not call the poster’s employer.

    By the way – employers – and potential employers – DO look at their employees’ social media postings.

    And many a job application hit the circular file after someone in HR saw a crazy post by a potential employee.

    I was raked over the coals in here once over saying this but it is true =

    “If you have a smart phone, play it smart before you post!”

  91. AngryOwl*

    In the US, we are surrounded by gun violence and have to deal with the very real terror of it every day. I have zero sympathy for anyone, in this day and age, who makes a public shooting threat (however “vague”), and what their consequences are. Don’t joke about shooting people, it’s not hard (and we have no way of knowing if it’s a joke).

    Outside of this specific case, I don’t have a lot of thoughts about general employer notifications. I likely wouldn’t do it, outside of instances where someone was disparaging a group they worked with or something like that.

  92. SaffyTaffy*

    I honestly just Do Not Care if people do this. I’d want to know if my employee said something like this, or most of the variations listed in these comments.

  93. Phoenix Programmer*

    You ask “what are the ethics”

    The questions I ask myself is:
    Will my action help the victim?
    Do I have all the relevant facts?
    Do I have enough context of the perp to pass judgement on their character?

    The answer with social media posts of strangers are overwhelmingly no.

    It’s why I don’t participate and am resolutely opposed to doxxing. Often the conclusions/context are wrong. I think the comments about who is the bigot and the not even mentioned “cashier” are great examples.

  94. Hiring Mgr*

    As others have said, if this was in any way considered a legitimate threat, wouldn’t it make more sense to call the police? I’m not sure what contacting the employer does to mitigate a threat of violence. That’s not to protect the person, I’m just not sure why the employer would be the one you get in touch with.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      I’m thinking that maybe the employer would have an employee assistance program and could refer the problematic employee for counseling.

  95. Jennifer Juniper*

    The threat to shoot someone worried me. I’m glad the OP reported it.

    Given the context, that sounded serious. Threatening violence is much, much more than a dumb mistake.

  96. Quill*

    I’d say that you did nothing *wrong* since the person was threatening (with intent to follow through or not) harm to another person.

    However, the police department would probably have been a more efficient place to report… even though someone who makes violent threats over minor issues could be someone to be concerned about in the workplace, so it’s not like your warning was necessarily useless either.

  97. LetsNotGoThere*

    I don’t think the OP did anything wrong in this particular case because of the threat of violence. Isn’t there often an uptick in violence (or suicides) when something big like a mass shooting (or school suicide) happens? So it’s possible events were spurring this person towards something. I would hope her employer would have enough experience with her to know if it’s likely “just talk,” or something they should forward on to the police. I think the police are much more likely to take the report seriously from a concerned employer than from a random stranger sending them a Facebook screenshot. At worst, the employee got fired. At best, people didn’t die. Thank you for erring on the side of caution.

  98. Bulldog*

    My only advice would be that if you report someone’s social media postings to their employer, you should make sure that your own social media presence is squeaky clean. (And spare me the BS of “I just wanted the company to know the postings were not a good reflection of them.” You wanted to get the person in trouble with their employer — which would at best result in a reprimand and at worst, firing. As others have rightly pointed out, if you felt truly threatened, you would have notified the police.) I don’t personally believe in karma, but from what I hear, she can be a real b****.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      You summed it up perfectly. 100% vindictive. People with guns who are a threat are dealt with by police, not their employer on Monday morning.

  99. anon4this*

    OP, you did the right thing. 5 years ago, maybe more, and you might want to reconsider. But not today. She’s a literate adult who knows the atmosphere around gun owners and gun violence, and in 2019, she deserves whatever fallout comes from her violent gun-specific threats. I only wish more people acted like you.

  100. Kelly*

    If reporting racism etc is the bar we are using, reporting an actual threat of shooting someone surely is valid as well.

  101. Permanently Exhausted Pigeon*

    As written, the post reads as a hyperbolic threat to me, so I probably wouldn’t report it at all, but if a person sincerely believes something is a credible treat of violence, it would make more sense to me to report to store/mall security, or maaaybe the police.

    I don’t think we have enough detail of who said exactly what though the paraphrase to also call it bigoted, but if an employee was being a jerk to poor customers, I do think it would have been ethical for the person witnessing the jerk and potentially discriminatory behavior flag to flag it for the store manager or security, without posting PSA-style threats to the void on social media.

    If a social media post is espousing hateful views or threatening towards a given group, reporting that to an employer could be ethical, but that reporting can be based around and complicated by bias as well, though, so it’s extremely important to critically analyze:

    1. Your own perception of the situation. Is the behaviour/statement itself illegal, threatening, or harmful, or am I perceiving it as threatening based on my own biases? Is that person erratic and potentially violent, or am I buying into angry black woman stereotypes?

    2. The ratio of harm relative to the risk of reporting. Is the action/statement/behaviour enough of a threat that risk of potential escalation is acceptable? AND Does reporting jeopardize the safety of marginalized groups, and if so, is it worth in terms of danger or urgency?
    My gay neighbors may be watching Drag Race loud enough to technically break noise ordinances, but I can ask them to turn it down rather than risking sending harassment or violence from law enforcement to their door. If they are literally drag racing in a school zone at dismissal time while texting, the danger and urgency levels are too high to risk not reporting.

    A theme I see popping up in these ethical discussions is the idea of a right to privacy between personal life and work, which I agree is important, but that privacy is less of an argument for public mediums and totally negated when there’s significant risk to the safety of others. Sure, I believe that what I believe in my own time is my business, but if I decide to threaten to shoot people in the grocery or post hate speech on social media, it seems fair that my company would question the ways those views can spill over into work or interactions with customers and coworkers, and take steps to minimize the risks. I won’t go so far as to say reporting social media posts that are biased or threatening is always necessary, but it’s not inherently unethical to do so.

  102. Newington*

    Are you flipping kidding? He threatened to shoot and kill a customer and you don’t think that’s reportable?

    I’m speechless.

    1. animaniactoo*

      I think you’ve misunderstood – there is no threat to a customer, and there is no evidence that the action that would trigger execution of the threat is likely to happen, based on the described circumstances.

      1. Newington*

        I mean, I’m sorry I got the details wrong, but the important bit is where they literally say they would shoot someone.

        “there is no evidence that the action that would trigger execution of the threat is likely to happen” – apart from, like, that it does happen, all the goddamn time.

        1. Em*

          Agreed. I am shocked by people’s casual disregard to threats of violence– since when is “haha I might shoot people who insult me!” a joke?! If that guy actually went out and shot someone, the media would be looking at this “joke” and asking why anyone didn’t do anything with that warning sign. I would absolutely report it than risk having people’s deaths on my conscience.

  103. MissDisplaced*

    I think this was a too over the top reaction!

    While it’s not ideal (or very nice) people ARE still entitled to freedom of speech, even if that means using rude euphemisms on occasion. Obviously, the poster was angry about something that had happened recently. But what you really want to look for before you decide to report someone for a social post is patterns. Do they make posts like that often? Are they threatening specific people or places? Are the posts often about the same topic or group of people? Are they filming other bad things they do? Do they post excessively about guns, violence or make comments about getting even, getting revenge or destroying things.

    I know people are upset and scared over the mass shootings, but one nasty FB post doesn’t equal shooter.

    1. Em*

      People are owed freedom of speech by the government, not their employer or their Facebook friends. If you say something awful, like making jokes about how you’ll shoot someone just because they insulted you, your employer is free to believe that speech is terrible and terminate you. Your Facebook friends are free to believe that this “joke” is a warning sign and give the employer a head’s up– if that guy went and actually shot someone, the media would be looking at that joke and asking “Why didn’t anyone do something?”

  104. Jessica Fletcher*

    I think it’s fine, and perhaps even safer, to report this to an employer. I would have to see it for myself, and see their profile, to know for sure if I would report it to police.

    Gun violence is terribly common these days. I wouldn’t feel safe working with someone who casually said they will shoot a cashier. You can’t say that. It’s not hyperbole. It’s a real thing that happens all the damn time. If I was an employer, I’d want to know if I had a loose cannon out there bragging about their quick temper, especially if they’re doing it on the clock and on a work device (which is why they want to know the time).

    Ten years ago, I would have agreed with Alison. But today, we have more mass shootings than days in a year. People are quick to express their anger with a gun. Every single time you see shootings in the news, there were warning signs. The perpetrators threatened violence before. They acted violent before. They made threats online.

    We do not live in a time where it’s safe to do nothing. People know by now that you can’t just say something like that, you can’t just write that online, and expect to get away with it. If you say you would shoot a cashier for being rude to you, I guess that means you actually will. Maybe you are illegally carrying a concealed weapon. Maybe you are illegally obtaining weapons. I don’t know. All I can do is take you at your word, that you intend to shoot this particular cashier if they are rude to you the way they were rude to someone else. I’m not keen to find out that you actually shot them, and I did nothing about it. I’d much rather you get in trouble at work, even fired, even if you’re so out of touch that you somehow thought it was a joke. Boo freaking hoo.

    I will say that I would think twice about making a police report if their profile was a person who, if they come into contact with police, they’re likely to face discrimination or violence from police. Then I’m only reporting a direct threat. This is the world I live in, so this is how I have to adapt.

    Oh, and Facebook reporting means nothing. Seriously, go on Google and read about it. Absolutely nothing will happen, even if someone makes an actual death threat. Facebook is extremely unlikely to remove it. They certainly won’t do anything more.

  105. Chairman Meow*

    I would never write something like that, but people like the OP are the reason I never post to social media ever (even if I do have accounts that I consume passively.) You never know who will try to use your posts to get you fired or in some sort of trouble.

    1. Chairman Meow*

      Also, am I reading this correctly? Was the Facebook poster telling off someone for treating poor people badly while…using classist language?

      I can understand the reference to “gunshot” being alarming, but it’s hard to tell whether it’s always worth reporting. People can be very flippant.

  106. CatMom*

    My rule of thumb for reporting something to someone’s employers is “things that employers really would want to know about but that the police wouldn’t deal with.” For example, openly expressing bigotry, or engaging in targeted harassment of another person (and before someone says that harassment is something the police would deal with, as the recipient of a number of both genitalia pictures and also anti-Semitic cartoons, let me tell you — no it is not).

    I don’t report things that are merely unsavory, and I also don’t report things that are illegal but harmless (like smoking marijuana).

  107. nora*