Students and Facebook: Still no clear lines with schools

Several of my friends do not have Facebook pages, and don’t intend to get them because of privacy fears.

It’s stories like this one today that confirm their suspicions that Facebook can land you in trouble:

(I checked and it is legal to drink and buy cigarettes in the Philippines at age 18 so this high school senior was probably not breaking any criminal laws there. Of course, school rules are another matter. )

From the Associated Press:

A Catholic school student has been banned from graduation ceremonies in the Philippines because a photo on her Facebook page shows her wearing a bikini while holding a cigarette and a liquor bottle.

Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said Wednesday the department will investigate a complaint by the girl’s mother against the St. Theresa’s College High School in central Cebu City to determine whether the penalty was appropriate.

The girl will graduate but has been told she cannot join her classmates in the ceremonies. Reports say school policies allegedly violated involve immorality, exposure online and smoking and drinking. A judge is expected to rule on the complaint before Friday’s graduation.

The girl’s lawyer says the picture was taken during a family outing. The school declined to comment.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

46 comments Add your comment


March 28th, 2012
9:11 am

Count me among those that do not use Facebook. I set up one a few years ago because ‘it was the thing to do’ but never log on. I don’t begrudge those that use it.


March 28th, 2012
9:32 am

Waste of time and energy.

I’ve seen supposed “adults” obsess over Facebook endlessly as if they were children. Pathetic…

And children are frankly too stupid (immature if you want to be nice about it) to know how to keep from making spectacles of themselves with all this online garbage.

Happy Kine and The Mirth Makers

March 28th, 2012
9:35 am

Facebook/Twitter = a colossal waste of time. Also, big brother is watching!


March 28th, 2012
9:38 am

Facebook is taking us into a brave new world. We want as much privacy as possible and those in authority want to know as much about us as possible. Big Brother will win on this one, just as he always has, or do you think you actually have any real privacy from those in power?

Follow the Course

March 28th, 2012
9:41 am

FB … this is a result/part of the “self-esteem” movement …

the issue/problem is … 1/3 of the folks have too much and but show their “self” to the point where they “feel” their “rights” have been violated … spare me … one is putting it out there for all to see.

Then there is the 1/3 are already just fine … but then a 1/3 really do need some “self-confidence”


March 28th, 2012
9:49 am

it’s my personal policy as a teacher (high school) not to friend students until they have graduated….for my own privacy and theirs as well. I also keep my privacy setting to friends only – teen-agers are notorious for “creeping” teacher pages

The Deal

March 28th, 2012
10:03 am

In defense of Facebook, I think it’s a great way to not only catch up with people who live far away but also a way to get to know people better. There’s no way to have conversations that delve into as many topics as people might post about, including news stories, places they’ve been, and just funny every day things. I am able to keep up with college friends, nieces and nephews, and even get to know remote coworkers a little better.

With that said, it is up to each user to protect his own information by setting appropriate privacy controls. The girl in this story was taking a risk especially because she goes to a private school, which obviously can set whatever rules it wants to about online posting. If parents give kids carte blanche on the computer, the kids are going to get into trouble. If parents let their kids have a Facebook page, then they should have their kid’s login to be able to check everything. If you don’t feel like monitoring it, then don’t let them have one at all.

still trying

March 28th, 2012
10:04 am

I set up a page for my AP students and post reminders, assignments, videos and for them to ask questions. That’s about as far as I go with it.


March 28th, 2012
10:16 am

I don’t do facebook, either. If I know you well enough to talk to you, I will do so as I wish. Otherwise, MYOB. It seems to me to be a form of self-gratification. “See how many “friends” I have!” “Look at all the cool things I am doing.”

Teacher, Too

March 28th, 2012
10:42 am

I have a FB account, but I am extremely careful whom I “friend.” The person has to actually be someone I know fairly well, and then I have my privacy settings set to the highest degree. I don’t post much, and what I do post is rather tame.

As for students, I never accept them as a “friend” until they have graduated from high school. As I teach middle school, if a student still is interested in keeping up with me after middle school and four years of high school, then I am flattered that the student cared to contact me. It’s fun to see my former students whom I taught in sixth grade twenty years ago, married with children of their own. I love seeing how their lives have turned out!


March 28th, 2012
10:43 am

@still trying, is an awesome alternative to facebook if you are using facebook for coursework and it isn’t blocked by school systems. It works very similarl to facebook, but is closed. Students have to have a group code and the teacher that created the group has to approve who joins. Each student receives a parent code also so parents can see what their kids are up to. Teachers can post online assignments and students can submit online, cutting down on paper use. Also, I can grade anywhere I have a computer connection. My AP kids love it.
I do not have any students on my facebook, current or former. I dont do much on it, but I don’t feel they need to have access to it.


March 28th, 2012
10:47 am

“Several of my friends do not have Facebook pages, and don’t intend to get them because of privacy fears.”

Yeah, it’s getting to the point where companies are becoming like big brother. I’ve heard stories from people who got rejected from jobs because someone went and spied on their Facebook page.


March 28th, 2012
10:49 am

The student’s pages can be made available when the administrators pages are given to the parents.


March 28th, 2012
10:49 am

I did have facebook until Dec. It was a great way to keep in touch with my friends and a few family members. Then, we had a problem with a family member and it got ugly. Not worth the hassle!!!


March 28th, 2012
11:18 am

Maureen there is a major problem with the story you posted. The fact the the girl goes to a private school says it all. They have the right to punish the child as they see fit. As for American public schools, there was a news story about an adminstrator who forced a girl to remove a Facebook post. The school system and the administrator are now being sued for violation of her 1st amemendment rights.


March 28th, 2012
11:20 am

Facebook has 500 million users. That breaks Heroin’s record.

still trying

March 28th, 2012
11:26 am

@zoe, Thanks for the info. I’d prefer that model to FB and will try it out next year with the new group.

HS Public Teacher

March 28th, 2012
11:28 am

Schools need to stop trying to be everything for everyone. Parents need to step up to the plate and montior their own offspring!

The only part that schools DO need to become involved is when a student posts slanderous comments on facebook, twitter, etc., regarding a teacher or a school. Then, the school SHOULD get involved and maybe even bring in law enforcement, as needed.

Otherwise, make parents be parents!


March 28th, 2012
11:40 am

If the girl’s parents were on this outing and they allowed the alcohol and cigarettes, and if she is eighteen, then I don’t really think it’s anyone else’s business. But, as others have said, private schools can do pretty much anything they want to.

I have a Facebook page, but I’m pretty sick of it. I don’t know where people find the time to post so much junk. Also, I get annoyed with people (mostly women) who post daily about the fabulousness of their lives and their brilliant and talented children. It’s kinda like getting an obnoxious Christmas letter every day.

Like others, I don’t friend students until they are out of high school.


March 28th, 2012
11:46 am

Just thought I might add this bit. I have several friends from the Philippines, students graduating high school are typically 16 there. I am not sure if it is because they have 10 grades or start earlier, but all of my friends were 16 when they finished HS and around 20 when the finished college. Not sure if this particular person was that age or not, but she would have been drinking and smoking under age. Also, I can’t understand why people who attend schools run by churches seem surprised when the rules are more restrictive? If you don’t like the rules, don’t go to the school.

To the Deal

March 28th, 2012
11:55 am

Deal, you wrote “If parents give kids carte blanche on the computer, the kids are going to get into trouble. ..”
Not so fast.
I found out the hard way. Kids sometimes do not post under their real name. They use a handle. So even if I were to Google and try to find my child, I may not find him or her AND computers are ubiquitous. Anyone can log on and Facebook from anyone else’s computer.
good parents cannot control everything, and when we try to do the right thing, we get blasted for being helicopter parents.

Sandy Springs Parent

March 28th, 2012
11:59 am

I tried to calm my 17 year old daughter when she came home crying after being in a twitter and texting fight with her so called best friend. Then trying to talk on the phone to one of them. Then back on twitter and texting. All I could say was ” put the stupid twitter and texting down and go to bed. I said you are just making it worse”.

The worse thing to me is their is one Home School girl in the group who sits at home all day by her self, while her mother teaches at a Private School and has nothing to do but a back log of these texts and tweets. Then the ones in school, talk about her, to her face. Sort of like the “Kim wouldn’t hold a baby in an orphanage in Africa fight on RHOA”, but between 17 year olds.

I tried to tell her in my day you had to talk to the person at least on the phone or in school.

I finally got her to laydown with me and let me rub her hair like she was just my baby girl. I had this stupidity called twitter and texting that is causing our middle class and upper class girls to act like the ghetto.

Human Resources Facebooks You

March 28th, 2012
12:05 pm

One of the cheapest and easiest ways for any company or prospective employer to find out about you is through social media such as Facebook. It’s cheap, fast and easy.
Just so you know, EVERY human resources department at every company I’ve ever worked for just googles your name to see what they find.
Even insurance companies investigating fraudulent injury claims use it.
So, just so you know, if you think you were right for the job and you didn’t get it, it might be because of the crap you put on social media. Bikini and drinking and smoking and drunk photos? Why would you even bother?
The comments the people write to you are also fair game. You are judged by the friends you keep. Any racial slurs on your Facebook? Why?
I’ve declined to hire two nannies because of their Facebook pages and I told them why I didn’t hire them.
The cloud is everywhere and it is forever. That photo and message you or your child posts today can live in infamy forever.
Security setting are a joke.
Any one of your friends can copy and paste your picture or comments off your page and send them to anyone they want.
Just saying…
If you put something on social media, make sure you wouldn’t care if your church pastor, your boss, your future boss or your future inlaw would approve of it.


March 28th, 2012
12:08 pm

Then don’t put your picture in, for sure!!


March 28th, 2012
12:34 pm

GM, so it’s not the teacher’s fault?


March 28th, 2012
12:38 pm

Facebook can be a valuable tool for staying up with distant (and even close) friends. As with everything (texting……for instance) it can be used in ways that bring the users issues. The issue is with the people using the tool, not the tool itself. Kind of like the saying that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.

Atlanta Mom

March 28th, 2012
12:41 pm

I did the same thing. Maybe we could be “friends”

Atlanta Mom

March 28th, 2012
12:43 pm

For the teachers who are “friending” former students. Have you considered that the former student may have siblings coming through the HS?
And I can tell you, that my child thought it was kind of creepy to have one of her teachers want to “friend” her after she graduated.


March 28th, 2012
12:58 pm

i dont have a facebook page and will never get it.

East Cobb Parent

March 28th, 2012
1:00 pm

Most teenagers don’t understand the long term ramifications of posting stupid comments such as “I look stoned in this photo” or posting beach photos. We finally deactivated our daughter’s account. It’s amazing how much more time she has to devote to school, chores and actually hanging out with friends. I’m hopeful that in four years FB will be a thing of the past and not the obsession it is with many. I have friends that spend hours on FB to “relax”. I also know of kids posting either suicidal thoughts, nasty remarks about others etc and the parents never check the account so never know. Maybe they should raise the age for FB.


March 28th, 2012
1:02 pm

i keep in contact with former students AND their parents. its nothing like being in a bar and a big linebacker dad gives you a big hug with tears in his eyes says, “man, my child is doing great in school.” then he tells his friends about you and buys you a beer.

Teacher, Too

March 28th, 2012
1:02 pm

I don’t seek out my former students. If a former student wants to “friend” me after he/she graduates from high school, that’s fine. I’ll consider it. I don’t automatically “friend” anyone. Plus, I don’t post anything that would embarrass me or put me or my career in jeopardy.


March 28th, 2012
1:09 pm

again: no fb, but in contact with students and parents. the telephone is wonderful tool.


March 28th, 2012
1:23 pm

Seems to me that the question raised in Ms. Downey’s post is not so much whether Facebook is a good or bad thing, but rather whether it is appropriate to use it to catch behavior that is unrelated to the school. I can understand and appreciate skulking through public information such as Facebook to suss out prospective hires, to spy on cheating spouses or to catch fraudulent claims, but to go through a student’s postings and base school punishments for behavior that has nothing to do with school is overreaching.

A school has an interest in public speech that disrupts its environment (like targeting nasty comments at particular students or teachers) or which indicates harm or cheating. Off-campus behavior that is legal and completely divorced from school, even if frowned upon, should perhaps be the subject of a call to the parents, but not an academic penalty.

Jane Stratemeyer

March 28th, 2012
1:46 pm

Maureen, I know your paper states that it is always looking for questionable use of tax dollars but then why do you and other support the Common Core State Standards. I read a great article about the common core and how it has no data to support it. Christopher Tienken from Seton Hall University is the author. I also saw him speak in Houston, Texas about this. Interesting article and somewhat funny as well. Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making.

It should be the first article in this issue:


March 28th, 2012
1:52 pm

Some issues with Facebook and privacy.

It is becoming common to include a review of a person’s Facebook account during a job interview. The interviewer asks the candidate to login to Facebook and let the interviewer examine the account. No privacy settings will protect you.

Pre-screening for many jobs involves a google search. My name is not that common but some people with the same name have put me on the defensive when interviewing. This involves much more than just Facebook but Facebook is included.

When a person doesn’t have a Facebook account, people can use that fact to commit identity fraud. There are cases where the crook creates the fake account and uses it to ‘Friend’ people who know the real person. They build a fake relationship and use it to learn the information required to commit identity fraud. It is amazaing how much information people will discuss with an old friend that is now on the other side of the country. These accounts are also used to attack the friends.

How to protect yourself? Create an account in your name, even if you rarely if ever use it. Don’t post personal or embarrassing information unless you accept that it may come back on you. Confirm your ‘Friends’ though some other mechanism (the phone works well) and make certain they are really friends. My personal rule is that I also will not work for any company that disregards my personal privacy to the point of requiring me to allow them access to my personal accounts.

The final beware; Some other secure sites are discussing using Facebook to control access to other sensitive accounts such as bank accounts and charge accounts. This means a hacked Facebook account could provide the hacker with much more than your pictures and friends list. Think twice before you allow this type of access to your online accounts.

Ole Guy

March 28th, 2012
2:09 pm

Apparently, allowing kids access to the magical marvels of technology is tantamount to giving a kid a stick of dynamite and a match…and saying, “Be careful”.

We’ve reached a point where we allow kids to assume levels of responsibilityand maturity for which they have not demonstrated worthiness. .

William Casey

March 28th, 2012
2:56 pm

I enjoy Facebook with relative impunity because I’m retired and no longer have to suffer fools gladly. FB is a wonderful tool for keeping-up with former students. Without it, I doubt that I would have ever known that the scared little girl I knew 30 years ago grew up to obtain not only a Ph. D but also a prestigious position at Georgia Tech. Lots of stories like that. Love it but would not have used it while actively teaching.

seen it all

March 28th, 2012
4:34 pm

The “Seen it all” moniker comes from my belief that my life experiences have shown me things that most people wouldn’t even imagine. To make this true story as SHORT as possible, here goes. I have been using the Internet for over 20 years. I have been using computers since the Commodore era. My first computer was a Commodore 64. I remember there was a time when your home computer was secure and YOU controlled it. You could go on the Internet and had a relatively reasonable assurance of privacy. Nowadays, no. The computer you buy today, with today’s Windows software, it designed to be accessed and controlled remotely. Your entire hard drive can be read without your knowledge, OVER THE INTERNET. All internet based activity is recorded. Once you connect a computer to the internet, it is no longer secure. Don’t forget that.

Secondly Facebook is an open book. Although the idea of having public page to connect with old friends sounds nice, it too has been corrupted. All the information you put up there is basically in the open domain. Even with these so-called “private” settings ordinary people still have access to some of your information. They can see your pictures. They can see who your “friends” are.

I learned a LONG time ago, from watching other people, reading, and learning about the world around me, NEVER PUT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET. EVER. DON’T EVEN USE YOUR REAL NAME IF YOU CAN HELP IT. NEVER EVER USE YOUR REAL NAME ON A PUBLIC FORUM. There are too many evil, vicious people out here.

This is advice I give to all of my fellow Get Schooled posters from the heart. I do not have a Facebook page. I don’t twit or tweet. I don’t do MySpace, YourSpace, HisSpace, or HerSpace. I am not “LinkedIn”. I am LinkedOut. I use the Internet, but sparingly. I surf safely. To be honest, I don’t think I want my picture on the Internet.

Stay away from Facebook. Some dog may end up biting up with it.

[...] Students and Facebook: Still no clear lines with schools (I checked and it is legal to drink and buy cigarettes in the Philippines at age 18 so this high school senior was probably not breaking any criminal laws there. Of course, school rules are another matter. ) A Catholic school student has been banned … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


March 28th, 2012
6:52 pm

A PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS based school in a FOREIGN country bans a student from graduation for a Facebook photo.

And that is relevant to us in Georgia?????

bootney farnsworth

March 28th, 2012
8:02 pm

it’s really pretty simple. don’t overshare, and think before you hit enter.

I don’t do much FB, preferring the old fashioned concept of face to face communication when possible, letters when not.

the bigger issue is why the ’00s feel this compulsion to share every
little aspect of their lives.


March 28th, 2012
8:53 pm

Looking at my college daughter’s student conduct code book now and the school has the right to use any information that passes through their servers-email, facebook, twitter, myspace, youtube etc. in any disciplinary action, even if it was originally posted via cellphone. I’m guessing most students don’t realize this.


March 28th, 2012
10:18 pm

Senior highschool students in the Philippines are generally below the age of 18, so there’s the issue of drinking and smoking illegally. But then again, I bet the photo just showed her holding the bottle and the cigarette and not actually in the process of drinking and smoking.


March 31st, 2012
11:23 am

Facebook is an obsession for many kids anywhere NEAR a computer at school, and they will go to great lengths to bypass any locks on a school’s network preventing access. This, to a point where they are actually learning.. ok, learning hacking skills, but hey, those are increasing in demand for those who want to understand how to better protect companies private data. Opentodays paper- are you as concerned as I am that your credit card may have been compromised? Think THAT problem is going away anytime soon?
But, since hacking 101 is not taught in many schools, it’s not doing our schools any good to allow this wasted time to take away from curriculum. More should be done to ‘get on their technical level’ and let them know the rules up front (in other words, more than saying, ‘don’t say bad things online, many teachers are unaware of the network bypassing techniques out there)- then when they make bad choices, take appropriate action. Administrators can handle this without extra work for the teacher, BUT!, monitoring computers in the classroom is absolutely necessary, and every day, is being done less and less.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 1st, 2012
8:57 am

So Maureen, are you going to say that this Minnesota school was permitted to force a 12 year old girl to give up her private Facebook account credentials? Since you’re so afraid of digital technology, I’d love to get your opinion here.