October 22, 2010

Facebook follies continue to confound

Posted in Cyber Bullying, Social Media in the Workplace, Social Networking tagged , , , , at 3:17 pm by Tom Jacobson

Sometimes you just have to ask  yourself, “What were they thinking?” 

In a story today in the Red Tape Chronicles, MSNBC reports on the growing number of cases where Facebook interactions between teachers and students have crossed multiple boundaries (Teachers, Students and Facebook, a Toxic Mix, http://redtape.msnbc.com/2010/10/).   According to the story, three teachers were fired after posting comments like “This is sexy” under girls’ pictures.  Some of them even used Facebook to initiate real-life relationships with students.

A Pennsylvania school suspended a teacher after photos of her with a stripper showed up on Facebook.  A Florida teacher was suspended after posting a comment about how he “hated” his students and school.  In Washington, D.C. a special education teacher posted “You’re a retard, but I love you.”

On the flip-side the MSNBC story also notes that fake profiles attacking teachers and school administrators also abound on Facebook.  And, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, at least one student has been successful in gaining First Amendment protection under the United States Constitution for her Facebook criticism of her English teacher.

As Facebook and other social networking sites continue to evolve, so will the body of law surrounding it.  In the meantime, employers and employees would be wise to realize that while social networking sites can be a great business tool, they can also be a tremendous liability if not handled properly.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney. 

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