Since the rise of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, firing employees for inappropriate comments or photos online has become more common among companies. Yet one local man claims that not only is this wrong, but that he’s also willing to die in order to stop “social media firings” from continuing.
Brian Zulberti, a Delaware native, Villanova law school graduate and self-described “fulltime advocate” has been staging a hunger strike outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC since Sunday. Sitting in a lawn chair with an umbrella over him to protect him from the sun, Zulberti said he was fighting for his right to post whatever he wants to on social media without the fear of getting fired for it. According to Zulberti, it’s a matter of personal freedom and privacy.
“In the lifetimes of our children there’s going to be no privacy,” Zulberti said. “Everyone's neighbor, everyone's boss, we'll know everything about them. I like to call this the transition between the Information Age and the Total Information Age. In the Total Information Age, under most laws and most states today, employers can, with some caveats, fire you for almost anything. In the Total Information Age, if these employers know everything, that means they can fire us for literally anything. That’s an Orwellian nightmare, self-imposed, 1984 George Orwell-style, and not a world I want to live in. It’s a world I will gladly die to prevent.”
Zulberti told the Washington Post he was fired when he worked as a high school tennis coach for posting comments on a website about an opposing player. He also gained attention last year when he applied for jobs by sending a picture of himself in a sleeveless shirt flexing his muscles. He followed that up by posting a Facebook photo of himself shirtless while holding up a sign that read “Hire Me! No…as a lawyer, damn, not an escort…wait is it something I’m wearing?”
Yet while he found himself the subject of plenty of criticism and ridicule for his pictures, Zulberti says his experiences inspired him to fight for the cause of other people who have been fired for what they say or share online. He began posting nude pictures of himself on the Internet, launched a blog and YouTube channel and began going on a speaking tour across the country explaining his philosophy. The ongoing hunger strike is just the latest part of his campaign.
So when will the hunger strike stop? According to Zulberti, he’ll end it once he gets coverage from a “major national television network.” And it’s not online coverage that he’s talking about. Instead he says he wants “90 seconds of prime time, weeknight coverage.”
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Only time will tell if he’ll get the coverage he desires to spread his message or, as he claims he’s willing to do, die trying.