I asked Tim Callahan of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators about teachers and Facebook in the wake of the messy Barrow County case in which a young teacher resigned after her principal discovered that she had posted Facebook photos of herself drinking in Europe and had posted the word “bitch” as in “I am going to play Crazy Bitch Bingo.”
(See my earlier posts on this if you are unaware of the story. Ashley Payne is now suing and the case has sparked hundreds of comments here at Get Schooled, most in her support.)
Callahan told me:
“We have talked to teachers about their expectations of privacy in this new world. As American citizens, they have a First Amendment Right to have a Facebook page, but we are telling them, ‘Don’t do it.”’
In my interview with Payne last week, she said her teacher pals are frightened after what happened to her.
“My colleagues are scared to death because they are afraid that this is some strange witch hunt. Most of them have changed their names on Facebook or taken their entire Facebook page down,” she said. “They feel it is an invasion of privacy. It feels like we are not allowed to have personal lives.”
Is it even possible in this day and age to stay clear of Facebook if you are living a full life and get anywhere near a camera?
In a conversation this weekend with three friends, we talked about the Payne case. One friend said the case illustrated why she refused to have a Facebook page. She didn’t want any photos of herself on the Internet.
Well, at that point, one of the other women told her that she was, indeed, on Facebook as snapshots of her were included in a group posted recently by another pal. My friend almost had a heart attack because she did not know and would likely never known as she’s not a Facebook user.
I will admit to one very very funny video of me floating somewhere on the Web. A friend used her cell phone camera to capture my “seizure-like” sideline cheers at my son’s soccer game. I try to adhere to the rules and keep any cheering low-key, but the result apparently is that I have these jerky motions where I get poised to yell or stand up and then quickly restrain myself. I have refused to find and watch it, but others have told me it’s quite amusing.
Very often, the posters to Get Schooled say it much better than I can. Here is a teacher response to this issue that I think says it all:
I have been debating all weekend about whether or not to take down my FaceBook page. My mother insists that I should do so, just in case, but I don’t feel there is anything inappropriate included on my page. I try to be careful of how I am photographed in any situation because many of my friends have pages where they post photos. So even if I remove my page, there are still photos of me on the internet. I use FaceBook to keep in touch with relatives and friends who live all over the country, and it bothers me that, as a teacher, I can’t enjoy the same format of communication enjoyed by so many others. What concerns me most, however, is that one anonymous email can derail a career in so short a time. I have been teaching for seven years now, and it seems each year the cons list grows while the pros list diminishes…sigh!