A recent article on CBS News talked about a high school teacher in Georgia resigning from her job due to a photo on her Facebook profile where she was holding two alcoholic beverages and the ‘B’ word showing up on her profile.
Privacy on Facebook is an issue that has long been contested, and I’m sure it will be for years to come. However, the fact that a teacher was forced to resign because of a picture and one profane word on a profile she does not allow her students to see seems a little ridiculous. She did her job to ensure that her students could not see the photos and, in the article, said she would never use profane language with her students. I understand that teachers should monitor what they post online, just as anyone else should. However, the fact that a responsible adult was forced out of her job opens up another area of controversy.
Adults (in any profession) have the right to post whatever pictures they want to. Obviously, the should use discretion, but as long as they aren’t posting something that goes against a work policy, an employer has no right to fire someone. The article did say teachers “were warned about ‘unacceptable online activities.'” But if the ‘unacceptable’ activities were not explained (the article does not say whether they were or not), how was the teacher to know she couldn’t post a photo from a night out while on vacation? There are much more ‘unprofessional’ photos of college-aged students online than on any profiles of former high school teachers that I am Facebook friends with.
Everyone should be aware of what they post and how it could affect them in the future, but for a photo from a simple night out to cost someone his or her job seems too restricting.