Social Network Privacy Not So Private

Facebook and MySpace and other social networking sites have become a means of not only communicating with so-called “friends,” but they also allow for showing off and “going wild” in ways that often come back to bite…even when you think your site is private.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Ashley Payne, a teacher in an Arizona school said that she was forced to resign after photos and a comment posted on her Facebook page were forwarded to the superintendent of schools in her county.  And she said she had the highest level of privacy controls on her site.  The photos in question showed her in pubs and beer gardens while on summer vacation.  In a comment on her Facebook page, she announced that she was headed to play a game called “Crazy Bitch Bingo.”

According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the bottom line is that “the state code addresses on and off-campus behavior, including inappropriate relationships with students and anything that violates the mores of the community.”

I’m good with that, because teachers have a profound influence on young minds, and being role models seems an obvious obligation.  Not enough teachers think about the consequences of their conduct, not just in terms of their own employment, but in terms of the well-being of the children for whom they are responsible.  Posting extremely inappropriate sexual content and nudity on the web as well as posting photos of teachers yucking it up with booze is a breach of professional conduct.

For teachers, this is obvious.  However, each and every one of you must understand that anybody with knowledge can hack into your private site and edit as well as download and reproduce material elsewhere.  Don’t write or post pictures you would not want to see on the front page of The New York Times, unless, of course, you’re into being infamous.  The word “friend” is simply a term for someone with access to your site.  Don’t imagine that they necessarily have the honor of a real-life friend.  Anything you write or post might be used against you.

Now that this is all said, how about your just inviting real friends over for dinner and meaningful conversation?