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Educator suspended when she refused to show her Facebook page (dailydot.com)
79 points by chrismealy 1251 days ago | 35 comments



Whenever I see a story like this I always think of this XKCD strip: http://xkcd.com/137/

I don't aim to offend people with things I post online, but I don't expect to make everyone happy either. If a future employer might not hire me because I express myself publicly, chances are I don't want to work there anyways. However, I find it sad to see this kind of thing in education. I know too many great teachers in public schools that have decided to leave due to crap like this, and I can't help feeling that things only get worse in their absence.

(edited for grammar)

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That's nice.

In the mean time, tomorrow is the 1st of the month, remember to pay rent, utility bills, and credit card bills.

The "someone who is a dick is probably not someone I'd want to work with anyways" thought is correct, but it is a thought that practically no one out there in the real world actually enjoys. One has to realize that the current state of the software industry affords us the luxury of choosing our jobs out of many opportunities, instead of simply taking whatever we can get. We are extraordinary outliers in this respect, and it remains to be seen how long we can make this last.

The majority of people in this country (and abroad!) do not have such luxuries - I'm all for regulation here, because it seems like this is not something that will regulate itself.

[edit] Side thought: what's wrong with people? You see something you don't like on Facebook, you talk to that person like a reasonable human being. This passive aggressiveness pisses me right the hell off. We've become a society of cowards and snitches, so afraid of confrontation that we will hide behind a 3rd party whenever anything that displeases us happens.

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I know many people who don't work in tech who also don't put up with this crap. It's not about whether you work in tech, it's about whether you work for yourself, or someone who isn't an asshole and more importantly whether you respect yourself. I know people who weld metal , cut trees, plant trees, landscape, etc, who would never put up with this kind of stuff.

Assuming the worst because she wouldn't give access is exactly the kind of reasoning that courts resolutely set their face against.

Necessity is the argument of tyrants and the creed of slaves. I for see this decision being overturned quite quickly.

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>> If a future employer might not hire me because I express myself publicly, chances are I don't want to work there anyways.

Not too long ago, one of my colleagues (senior dev) opined that he would never want to work for a company that expected him to wear a suit to an interview.

He (currently) has the luxury of expecting potential employers to bend over backwards to cater to his needs. If this industry ever retreats from the current boom, I suspect a lot of this bravado will retreat in tandem.

It would behoove us to exhibit a certain level of understanding and solidarity towards those not currently employed in a privileged industry.

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Yeah, show your supervisor your Facebook. Bring in all your journals too. Maybe that incriminating picture that's in your drawer that your ex-lover took of you one night as well. Why not? What's the difference? Give them the key to your house so they can raid your bedroom just in case they need to look around. Ugh.

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Sounds like an episode of House.

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I really hope she sues and we get a legal decision on this one way or another.

That said, it doesn't really matter to me.

1) I don't want to work anywhere that requires me to friend my boss or give up my password.

2) I don't want to work anywhere that doesn't like me for who I actually am, and I'm sure as shit not going to hide who I actually am so I can be a slave for someone.

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I agree. And luckily, we have the luxury of setting requirements for our prospective employers.

Some people do not have this luxury. And that is why you should care.

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I don't say anything on facebook I wouldn't attach to my resume. Facebook will go into serious decline when the rest of the world figures out that it's not really that private. I really long for the days of private friends only mailing lists.

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Except even they're not necessarily really private, as JWZ's story about Really Bad Attitude demonstrates: http://www.jwz.org/gruntle/rbarip.html

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When Facebook made photos public by default, a lot of people also started turning their settings to full private mode, so by trying to force people to become more public, they achieved the opposite. The more either Facebook itself or others try to make people's private lives public, the more people will try to go the other direction.

People like to make things about their lives public as long as it remains their choice - when they are forced into becoming more public, they will look for alternatives.

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Good point : Now I understand why Facebook is suddenly on the pro-privacy side of the password argument. Fortunately, for them, Facebook itself has access to everything on your Facebook pages.

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I don't get that whole Facebook thing, there is stuff that is work related and stuff that is not. Why is this even an issue? If they assume anything, they should let the police investigate it.

Why don't do they ask for the phone number from her ex-boyfriend or her Xbox live access? This is equally absurd, the employer has no right whatsoever to intrude the personal life of one of his employees.

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Isn't this exactly what Facebook said they would take legal action to prevent? Looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

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I am a high school teacher, and we have had to deal with cyber bullying on numerous occasions. It's not that difficult to deal with. If someone is bullied and wants something done, they can always show their page. This stuff can be addressed effectively without ever demanding anyone's password.

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Ah, so all that was needed was for the school board to sit at the shoulder of the complaining parent, as the complaining parent voluntarily showed the school board the parent's Facebook, and the offending post that the parent saw via the parent's Facebook.

I don't believe the school board should have been involved in that either, but that would have been somewhat "better" than firing the teacher.

Better still, the school board should have said "It's Facebook, nothing to do with us."

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Yes, sometimes we do need to address behavior from outside of school that bleeds over into school activities. For example, a few years ago students started fighting each other, filming the fights, and posting the videos to youtube. When it became something that unwilling students were being bullied into, and 50-100 students were leaving school to cheer on, the school appropriately got involved. "Off school grounds" does not always mean it's not school business.

I certainly don't mean that schools should look for stuff to investigate. I also don't see enough particulars from this article to make a clear judgement about this case. But when it is appropriate for the school to get involved, these situations can be handled without anyone handing over their password.

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Soon after, the district’s Special Education Director wrote to Hester, saying “[I]n the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly."

To be fair she did post something that would get her fired if posted in a truly public setting. If the parent of a student was able to see this picture then it's hard to consider her Facebook profile private. If they had a screen shot of this photo on Facebook I doubt they would require her password to suspend her.

That being said I still think it is horrid that anyone would even think of asking for a Facebook password, and the "guilty until proven innocent" thing doesn't fly with me.

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To be fair she did post something that would get her fired if posted in a truly public setting

But it was not a public setting, so how is that relevant?

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Do you really consider Facebook a private setting?

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For the purpose, yes. They did need her password, didn't they?

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I'm assuming she just deleted the photo and they were fishing for some kind of proof.

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> the district’s Special Education Director wrote to Hester, saying “[I]n the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly."

I guess this clown has never heard of innocent until proven guilty. Yes, yes, I realize this is not a court of law, but let's see how he feels about that when the ACLU hauls him into one.

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When I read stories like this, I feel less like a contrarian Luddite on my refusal to Facebook. Sure, the school district is being shitty here, but if you don't post stuff on the Internet to begin with, this kind of thing is less apt to occur in the first place.

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Self-censorship is fail. Being compelled to self-censor is double fail. Neither has a place in a free society.

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Self-censorship is a cornerstone of human social behavior. Even if I think you're a complete asshole, it's often neither necessary nor appropriate for me to say that, or even hint at it. More or less all of us do this. it's called choosing one's words.

Facebook is another modality of human speech. At first, we spoke and things lived in the minds of listeners alone, or to those to whom the words were related. Then, with writing, we could record words durably, and any who could read and had access to the text could know what we say. Now what we say is durable and trivially disseminated to thousands, perhaps millions.

By all means, speak your mind. But consider first if you want what you have to said known by all possible recipients of the speech, and if you're wiling to deal with all consequences thereof.

Edit: none of which is to say that forcing people to divulge passwords for or the content of social media for employment purposes is remotely ok. It's not.

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Why is not using Facebook on grounds that it's effectively "public" considered self-censorship?

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If it was "effectively public", there wouldn't be any issue with people being compelled to show their pages to their employers.

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It isn't clear to me that my choice not to have a Facebook account is any form of self-censorship.

If this classroom assistant had simply sent her funny photo to friends using e-mail, perhaps we would not be reading about it?

I do think some kind of privacy protection is needed, in Europe we have some laws, but they are not perfect.

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I think you just posted something on the internet. That could even, possibly, offend some people. ;-p

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Would you be willing to surrender your ycombinator password?

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The attitude "never say anything you would not want tosee published" is wrong.

When you say something (online) you are publishing it

all those pub conversations, all those vitriolic diatribes against managers (whom we later bacame) are packed up and put into a book called read me later

we have all been writing appendicies to the Viz Swearosaurus

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Simple "solution" - delete her Facebook profile and tell them that's what she's done.

Surely there is a law that's already on the books that prevents coersion of person details? Under the U.S. Constitution, the government must get a search warrant. I don't see how this is any different - this is the government using coersion to gain access to your private life. I think that a good lawyer could take this to the Federal Court to challenge the constitutionality of the matter.

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Good idea, destruction of evidence is surely the right answer here. Particularly when that evidence is recoverable.

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Funny, I don't believe that she is being prosecuted of a crime. The ones asking her for the password is the Education Board, who have no legal recourse but to demand the password.

If this was a prosecutor, they would file a subpoena to Facebook via the court system.

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