Monzo Debates: Social media and the workplace

Thanks to everyone who came out or tuned in to our Open Office event last night!

See below for a great photo from @icedcoffee :camera:

(Follow the rest of the social media action from the night here!)


The questions of what power employers should have over employees’ social media, and how employees can expect their social media presence to intersect/interact with their jobs, are thorny ones. We’ve never hosted the Open Office as a debate before, so let us know whether you think this format worked.

The discussion was dynamic and wide-ranging, but it’s an enormous topic, and there’s still so much more to say. We’d love to keep the conversation going and get even more perspectives on the forum.

The full stream:

Some highlights:

2:34@cookywook introduces the topic and explains why Monzo, a bank, is interested in debating social media at work

8:38 – Carl talks about why employers should care about employees’ social media

10:20 – Frances considers how a company’s size and status impacts the guidance it should give employees, and how a CEO will face more scrutiny than an intern

11:48 – … but also, Holly points out, an intern might one day become a CEO

14:23 – Jemima asks how enduring the repercussions really are for social media infractions, when, for example, Justine Sacco has basically gotten the same job back that she was fired from before

16:13 – Carl talks about how platforms have changed over time as well as their users

25:20 – advice from Carl’s mum: “legality isn’t a good enough argument to do something that’s morally grey.” Also, “Elon Musk should be held accountable for the ridiculous things he’s been saying on the internet.”

35:22 – does the common disclaimer “views my own” have any impact whatsoever? We ask Frances, a lawyer

We want to hear from you!

Some things I’m still thinking about are that I don’t think actually any such thing as a “private group” exists on the Internet; I’m also wondering whether the culture around social media mistakes of the past will change when in the not-too-distant future everyone in the workforce will have grown up online.

What do you all think?


One thing that will stay with me forever, is something a previous boss said…

“Never send an email, you wouldn’t want to end up on the front page of a national newspaper”.

I think you could replace “e-mail”, with “any social media” these days.

I often hear about people who have come under fire for things they may have tweeted (or put on MySpace) all those years ago - Likely when they were only young, and incredibly naive.

Yet, once it’s out there and saved in the big wide world of Google - It has the potential to come back and haunt you.

I think the next generation will be far more savvy, mainly, because the parents will have seen the horror stories.


Another great evening at the Monzo office — Superbly hosted by @cookywook and engaging conversation. I look forward to more debate-style panel discussions.


The point was made, though, that society’s viewpoint of what is and isn’t acceptable changes over time, and a comment made on Twitter 11 years ago (when I joined) and seen as perhaps edgy but not offensive at that time might, through a completely unconnected random event (Grenfell Tower, #metoo etc) become to be seen as astonishingly offensive with a retrospective viewpoint from where societal values stand today.


Even posting on Facebook comments regarding your workplace could in some cases lead to disciplinary action. Even if you don’t mention where you work, if your workplace is in your profile, it can be linked.

Yep, definitely an element of that.

But in an age where every little comment and photo is documented, it becomes incredibly hard to plan for the future with respect to these potential issues.

Perhaps there should be a 4 year statute of limitations on social media posts :joy:

Either that, or the next big social network that comes out will buck the trend of saving everything, and instead will automatically delete everything after a year (or a specified time frame).


I use the Daily Mail Method and run everything through a filter of ‘how would that disgusting piece of shit organisation spin this?’

(This comment passes that test.)


I echo the sentiments of those above, don’t put anything on social media you think wouldn’t be appropriate. Companies that are active on social media, with many members of their staff interacting often with users and the wider public would probably have to be more careful about what their employees say :thinking: like many members of Monzo are very active on here and Twitter and users frequently interact with them. If they suddenly made a racist remark for example it would directly conflict with Monzo’s image of tolerance and other people might rethink the brand image if they failed to reprimand/ was fine with statements like that.

Imo while what you say online might not relate to your job scope it reflects you as a person and a company should be allowed to discipline if they think this sort of behaviour doesn’t represent the company accurately. After all, they hired you assuming you’re a certain sort of individual that would fit their work environment and values and just because it’s online doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Jamie pointed out that a lot of things that have got people into trouble were tweets from awhile back when they might not have thought it was offensive, or what is and isn’t acceptable to say changes with time (eg “queer” was only reclaimed in the last century). I feel there are things that definitely have been offensive all along and only recently more people are gaining awareness of how serious words are and holding others to account. Maybe this gets perceived as “you can’t say anything without offending someone these days” but I think it’s good that people are more conscious about what they put online, since our online presence is gradually becoming a larger part of our public image.


I totally agree with @evangelskies on this one. I think greater accountability around things that have always been offensive (racism, misogyny) but which used to be more acceptable (or even in the mainstream) is a much bigger phenomenon than things that were once harmless accidentally coming to seem offensive.

It is just true though that everything is constantly shifting: societal values (as @j06 points out), the technologies themselves and what they present themselves as being for (as Carl pointed out in the debate), and individuals (obviously). I do have this hope that despite all those moving parts, we can move towards a future where everything is taken fairly and in context.

And FWIW that’s not a new problem – we’ve always had to debate what about people’s behaviour and beliefs in the past can be accepted a) relative to the values of the time and b) relative to the values of today. It’s just that now that we have social media and the Internet, we’re (for the most part voluntarily) creating massive archives of our own lives, and the kind of scrutiny that used to only be exercised on public figures can now, very easily, be exercised between ordinary citizens.