Yet one more reason we all should learn as much as possible about how to use the Facebook privacy settings. A teacher in Massachusetts was fired for her painfully straightforward Facebook comments made and posted on her wall. Comments calling school parents "snobby" and "arrogant," and the students "germ bags," did not go over too well. June Talvitie-Siple, supervisor of the high school math and science program in Cohasset, Mass, was forced to leave her position.
The school superintendent was notified of Talvitie-Siple's remarks while still on vacation overseas, according to ACB News. She promptly emailed (no Facebook necessary) and asked the teacher to resign.
According to Talvitie-Siple, the pesky privacy settings, which have caused on-going issues for Facebook, were at least in some part to blame for the debacle. The teacher says she believed her page was set so that only her friends could see her comments. Unfortunately, she was mistaken.
This case is but one more illustration of the twin realities all Facebook-ers must live with: 1. unpleasant comments can easily come back to bite you and 2. figure out the darn privacy settings.
As to number one, this is not the first teacher disciplined for her extremely candid remarks about pupils and others on Facebook. As ABC notes and as was previously written about on this blog, a college professor was dismissed for genially inquiring about a hit-man to bump off her students. Coming as it did shortly after the University of Alabama-Huntsville shootings, this was not taken lightly by the university administrators.
Facebook itself has been under constant fire regarding the privacy, or the lack thereof, of its users. There is a delicate balance between giving enough information to allow the site to function as a re-uniter for all those long-lost friends and the value of not having the whole world read your Facebook comments on how you despise your working environment. It's quite a trick.
June Talvitie-Siple is showing herself to be a good teacher though, at least in this one way; she knows a teachable moment when she sees it. "I take full responsibility for my stupidity and I hope it serves as an example to kids that they need to be very, very vigilant about their privacy," she told ABC. Teach on.
- Cohasset educator quits after Facebook posting (Boston Herald)
- Facebook Faces Growing Privacy Backlash (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Facebook Friend Your Boss? Think Again... (FindLaw UK's The Solicitor)
- Protecting Privacy Online: Facebook Opt-Out Not Enough? (FindLaw's Common Law)