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Five Ways Facebook Can Get You Fired November 3, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Worth Knowing.
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I spent most of the weekend writing a paper for my masters program about an ethics violation related to education. I took a break to sit on the front porch to hand out candy to 300+ trick-or-treaters.  I only observed a few ethics violations there.  A couple of kids circled around thinking I wouldn’t notice they were double dipping. What they don’t know is I have a smooth slight of hand move.  The best part of the evening was when a little girl handed us a handwritten note that said, “Thanks for the great candy!” Pig Maisie, in her witch’s hat, almost flew off the porch.

But back to Facebook.  When we were given the assignment to locate an “ethics violation,” my study buddy Teresa, (or FSB as she likes to refer to herself) found that googling “Teachers fired for…”  yielded a treasure trove of examples.  She settled on the high school art teacher who was fired for making “butt art” (paintings made using his butt and other parts south of the equator) that he put on YouTube.  The artist changed his last name and wore a mask, but still ended up as the butt of jokes and was ultimately fired. (Before you roll paint on your backside, you might want to check out his print, Tulip Butts for inspiration.)

I ran across a story about a teacher in North Carolina who listed on her Facebook profile that one of her “Interests” was, “Teaching the chitlins in the most ghetto school in Charlotte.”  Ouch!  Her attorney cited the school’s demographics as proof that she WAS teaching in a “ghetto” and was just telling the truth.  He was mum on the “chitlins” comment though. It was unclear if her privacy settings were in place.  She was fired two weeks later.

The unnamed teacher and four other teachers in the district were “outed” when the local TV station trolled through Facebook looking for anyone with a connection to the school district.  That alone should send shivers up your spine.

As teachers, we’re held to a higher standard because we’re supposed to be role models for children.  That said, teachers are people.  We have opinions. But we’re living in an era where the line between a teacher’s professional life and private life is often blurred with help from social networking sites like Facebook and My Space.  Just like I tell my third graders, don’t put anything in writing that you don’t want your mother to read or to have read in front of the whole class.  It seems like common sense, but there seems to be a shortage of that going around.

I came across Five Ways Facebook Can Get You Fired.  It should be mandatory reading for anyone on Facebook or My Space (actually anyone who owns a computer).   It gives five examples of how people lost their jobs because of Facebook.  Stuff you’d never think about, but stuff you need to know.

The site lists 5 Commandments for keeping your job:

1. Thou Shall Not Reveal – embarrassing details in your status update (or Twitter, or anywhere else for that matter!)
2. Thou Shall Not Post Photos – that in anyway could be construed as being credibility damaging in any way.
3.  Thou Shall Not Be Negative – Overly negative, hateful sentiments towards any issue, no matter how strong you feel about it, will certainly rub someone in the wrong way.
4.  Thou Shall Not Think You Are Protected – under the First Amendment you have the right to say what you believe via blogs and social networks, but your employer is free to fire you for just about any reason.
5.  Thou Shall Not Think They Are Not Listening  – Big Brother is most likely watching you as 66% of bosses monitor employees’ Internet connections.

We’re living in a highly connected world, so you need to be careful what you say on-line.  It could literally come back to bite you in the butt.

Photo Credit: The Figure 5 by Robert Indiana.


1. Catherine Sherman - November 3, 2009

Great post as always. I’m going to re-post on facebook! I posted about facebook yesterday on spying on your kids on facebook, sort of a related post coincidentally.

Wow, 300-plus trick or treaters. We only had ONE! Now we have so much leftover candy. We need a witch pig!

Cathy – My friends in England were surprised that the privacy settings here were not automatically in place. They are in the UK. Who would have known? Jan


2. institutrice - November 3, 2009

What I don’t understand is how they find this kind of dirt on people just by doing a search. Why would anyone make their entire profile/status/wall available to everyone? That’s just stupid. Maybe they deserve to be fired? 😉

Insitutrice – I agree that anyone dumb enough to post sh%t like that on their profile is not the sharpest tool in the shed. A while back, I realized MY entire profile was public. OMG – People will know I love the band MUSE. I promptly changed the privacy settings. Many people don’t realize that what they’ve written is out there for the whole world to see. My friends in the UK were shocked, as everything on Facbook in the UK is automatically set up so only “friends” can see it. Jan


3. hotlibrarytech - November 4, 2009

My profile is boring and I’m not even on Facebook.

HOT – I see Butt Art in your future. Jan


elissestuart - November 4, 2009

Maybe with a newborn baby…for birth announcements…butt NOT me!!!


4. Janelle - November 8, 2009

Well, I’m surprised you didn’t list the example of the principal in Montana (at the Livingston high school but not where Doug taught) who gave a student a wedgie! Yes, a wedgie. There was also the cop who was recently fired for writing something on facebook like, “stupidity should be against the law.”

Janelle – Principals giving wedgies? Yikes, sounds like the inmates are running the asylum. People write stuff on Facebook they think is good for a laugh, but there are those who take EVERYTHING way too seriously. We’ve all had that momentary lapse in taste/judgement that we wish we could take back. (My husband will think I’m talking about him. ) Jan


5. Students Are Not Your Facebook “Friends” « planetjan - August 23, 2010

[…] blogged on the danger of Facebook before in Five Ways Facebook Can Get Your Fired. Obviously, the teacher fired recently in Massachusetts didn’t read THAT post.  That’s […]


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