This Just In: Teachers not allowed to have a life outside of school.

How’s this for being totally unfair:

A Brownsville high school teacher has been suspended for 30 days without pay after she appeared in a picture someone else posted on Facebook that included a male stripper at a bridal shower.

[…] Board member Stella Broadwater says the suspension is appropriate because the photo became public, but member Sandra Chan says it was too harsh because the teacher had no control over the photo being posted.

via Teacher suspended over stripper photo – Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

It’d be one thing if the teacher had printed out this picture and passed it around to her students, but to be suspended because someone else posted the picture on Facebook is pretty stupid. Granted I’ve not seen the picture in question, but I’m not sure it should matter much. Short of staying home and never doing anything outside of work, I’m not sure how she had any control over the posting of the pic.

This also reflects one of the problems with Facebook’s move towards removing the privacy options that it has traditionally made available to its users. As these barriers come down you’ll be reading about more and more news items like this as pictures that were once thought to be limited to family and friends become viewable by the public at large.

There are already a number of sites popping up to chronicle embarrassing Facebook postings including from the folks who brought us I Can Has Cheezeburger? I mean, do you really want wall updates like this one viewable by the whole world?

Funny Facebook Wall Posting

It’s embarrassing enough that your mom knows you’re brushing up on AMAZING SEX, but what happens when a potential employer is able to do a Google search and has this come up? At least the folks remove last names and blur pics. Google isn’t going to do that.

OK, I’ve gotten off on a tangent here so allow me to wrap this up. The point I’m trying to make is that, sure, the idiot in the above screenshot probably shouldn’t have posted something like that if he didn’t want folks (including his mom) to know about it, but the teacher that got suspended didn’t post the picture that got her in trouble and that’s not fair. Which is basically my point.

21 thoughts on “This Just In: Teachers not allowed to have a life outside of school.

  1. There’s also a kind of disturbing trend of teachers and students friending each other on Facebook. That seems like you’re begging for trouble of this sort… Hell, I don’t even friend my coworkers!

    Then again, my coworkers are halfwits and morons.

  2. I am on facebook which I like because it helps me keep in contact with people I don’t see very often. For instance, one of my friends is a Brit currently doing volunteer work at an orphanage in Cambodia.
    However, if I post a picture I always tag the people in them and always take the pictures down upon request.

  3. There is something wrong with the timestamps. I comment I just posted says it was done 4 hours ago

  4. As someone from (originally at least) that very area of PA, I am surprised that they made the move to suspend her. I now live in good ol’ NC and would expect that level of overreaction from the bible belt I currently reside in, not the used to be coal mining, bar on every corner, beer drinking Steeler fans I know and miss. What is happening in this country? I have a friend who, 18 years ago at the age of 13, started having sex with a 26 year old woman. They got found out and HE got in trouble, and sent away to juvenile, while she got not even a fine and went back to her life as a wife and mother. My how things have changed in western PA.

  5. she appeared in a picture someone else posted on Facebook that included a male stripper at a bridal shower.

    So, what were she and the stripper doing in that photo? Inquiring minds want to know!

    And how come I never get invited to bridal showers with male strippers? Just because I’m a man? How sexist! 😉

    HMMM. First time I submitted this it showed entered about 1 year ago. Went to another entry and when I returned, it had corrected to about 4 minutes ago. Very interesting!

  6. Pingback: Unblogged Bits for Sunday, 24 January 2010 | ***Dave Does the Blog

  7. The privacy options still exist and if anything there are more ways to make something private than there were before. People are just too lazy to learn how to use them.

  8. People shouldn’t have to learn how to use them. That was the whole point of Facebook is that it started off closed and you determined how open it was. Now it’s starting off open and you have to opt-out of that. That’s a reversal of what they promised in the beginning and the reason they have so many users.

  9. If it started out closed no one would bother to learn how to open it up, people would get frustrated and leave. Those that did learn how to open it up would still probably do the same stupid crap they are now. Nothing is idiot proof and starting with closed privacy settings is not going to change that.

  10. Theo, you’re missing the point.

    If a platform starts off as closed and then reverses the privacy settings, each and every user is potentially faced with a Herculean task of securing their data, always assuming they understand the ramifications of the policy change and have the technical know-how to get things right.

    I have a facebook account, but I treat it as a read-only resource and haven’t entered any personal information other than my name.

  11. What Elwed said.

    There’s an interesting article about how for some people Facebook has managed a “technological lock-in” that makes it indispensable to said people. This allows them a certain amount of ability to annoy their users without losing them:

    Tech-savvy Ravasio, a 21-year-old UCLA student designing her undergraduate degree around the Internet’s impact on society and communication, is irked by changes privately owned Facebook has made.

    But for now, she says, Facebook is keeping her allegiance because of a concept called “technological lock-in.” In other words, the site has become an essential part of her life.

    “I think Facebook is the most valuable Internet commodity in existence, more so than Google, because they are positioning themselves to be our online identity via Facebook connect,” Ravasio said.

    “It’s your real name, it’s your real friends, and assuming they manage to navigate the privacy quagmire, they’re poised to become your universal login,” she said. “I would almost argue that Facebook is the new mobile phone. It’s the new thing you need to keep in touch, almost a requirement of modern social life.”

    That said, even for the hardcore users FB could go too far:

    Ravasio says that, technological lock-in aside, Facebook could potentially lose her if it keeps annoying her, as it did when it abruptly changed a default privacy setting so that members’ pictures were public.

    “All these (Internet) companies saying they’ll figure out how to monetize later seem to be forgetting that ‘monetizing’ has historically always meant a degradation of user experience quality,” she said.

    That last paragraph is an excellent point. I’m at the point myself where I’m debating killing my FB account in part due to the privacy changes and in part because I’m sick-to-death of all the apps that automatically make status updates in user’s profiles. I really don’t give a shit if you found a lost white kitten in Farmville.

  12. You can kill filter those notifications permanently too, just like you can ignore people that post annoying things constantly without dropping them as friends.

    I’m with the “too stupid to use Facebook settings = too stupid to use Facebook” crowd. If it’s essential TO YOUR JOB AND PROFESSIONALISM then either learn it right or ditch it. On the other hand, I think I’d kick my friend’s ass if they posted a picture of me and it got me fired. What the hell were THEY thinking?

  13. On the other hand, I think I’d kick my friend’s ass if they posted a picture of me and it got me fired.

    There’s the problem: your “friends” have the power, unless you become more savvy than you may have time or inclination. And who wants friends like that?


  14. MM, yes you can kill filter the app notifications so long as you don’t mind doing it on an app-by-app basis. There’s at least one friend in my list who has yet to meet a FB app they weren’t willing to play with which means every other day I have to go kill file a half-dozen new apps from showing up in my time line. I ended up going the second route you mention and basically told FB to ignore all updates from that person, which now means I won’t see any updates from them at all including ones I might be interested in.

    If you ask me, that’s a ridiculous dichotomy.

    And what Leguru said. It doesn’t matter how good you happen to be at setting up FB privacy settings if your friends aren’t as savvy or as cognizant of the possible privacy issues of letting pics be visible to everybody.

    You could be the best driver on the road, but if everyone else around you is an idiot then sooner or later you’re going to get into an accident.

  15. I don’t see that as a problem with Facebook, I see it as a problem with someone’s friends and grownups not knowing reasonable boundaries to step over with other adults using technology. I wouldn’t tell any true stories online using a friend’s real name that I think might come around to bite them in the ass, just like I wouldn’t publish a tell all biography and put it in bookstores that identified them positively.

    …And if such a book about ME showed up in the bookstore, I wouldn’t blame the bookstore about the screwed up Naked Mook picture on the cover that someone snapped of me drunk off my ass in my twenties with a fifty dollar bill rolled up in preparation for snorting the coke on the visible coffee table ending up there – it would be all about the person I trusted breaking that trust. Also, it would be about kicking myself for allowing such a picture to be taken in the first place.

    Even if the environment is theoretically “private” somewhere on the internet, unless there’s a legally binding, someone goes to prison, reason for it staying as such, I think everyone’s an idiot for thinking that anything they say or do is someone sacrosanct when it goes out on the wires. Even if it’s completely harmless, your information is out there if you’re not careful not just in your own activities but in your allowances to acquaintances and trafficking yourself.

  16. I’d be totally in agreement with you if it weren’t for the fact that Facebook got to where it is by promising to be exactly that sort of environment. They pulled a bait and switch and they keep pulling it again and again. That is Facebook’s fault because it was their decision.

    It would be different if they hadn’t built themselves up by promoting the idea that your account was very private unless you took the time to open it up and now it’s the reverse of that. They waited until they’d got technological lock-in on as many people as they could and then they reversed their position on the issue.

    These days Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of FB, has been creating a stir by claiming privacy is dead. He used that argument to defend the changes from a basically closed system that you have to open up to an open system you have to close. His argument is basically that with the advent of blogs and the like more people are comfortable sharing the minutiae of their lives with the world. While that may be true of some people, I certainly fall into that category, I think it’s overstepping a bit to assume that’s the case with everyone.


    It (FB) is NOT. You should never, ever, ever, ever friend your co-workers or boss(es). If you want a professional network, try LinkedIn. Or make anything public that you wouldn’t want the next recruiter who scans your application to see. For personal shit, use whatever social thing is in fashion.

  18. Of course you shouldn’t…. but if you do don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you in the ass. If it’s essential for your professionalism and your job don’t walk around in your back yard naked without building and maintaining a fence; and don’t blame the people who you thought were selling you a privacy fence for putting in chain link if it suits them. Even if they’ve been putting up privacy fences that they’re well known for – if you don’t have a legal promise from someone about your privacy then it’s up to you to police and maintain it.

    I’m open to the idea of legislation increasing privacy obligations, but right now arguing about that is sort of like going “Interstates shouldn’t have speed limits, so why the hell are people driving so slow?” as you race down the left lane.

    And I know that once you put in stronger privacy obligations you’re going to have more hassles too – companies are going to want more and stronger private information to make sure they’re legally affirmed as not liable by you before they allow you to use their products. Children probably won’t be able to legally use things at all, because they won’t be legally allowed to affirm their consent. That’s already somewhat of an issue, but it could get a lot more troublesome.

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