Social Media – Cautionary tales

Before I get into the meat of this story I just want to say that I am not condoning any action taken by any party. This is not the point of this post.

This post is just to talk about how anything that is posted online is not private, does not truly delete itself and can be easily copied and shared at a later date. Be careful!

Let’s start with disgraced New York American politician Anthony Weiner. Here is someone who was on an upward trend and starting to build a good reputation as a politician, then he sent some inappropriate pictures via Twitter to a woman who was following him. The pictures were sent as a Direct Message (DM) and were supposed to be private. They easily found their way to the news outlets and needless to say his career was over.

Next on the list is Natalie Munroe, a teacher from Pennsylvania who started a “private blog” for herself and her friends. In her blog (which was completely public and available for anyone to read) she wrote about some of her less than enjoyable experiences in the classroom. What was so controversial was the language she used in those posts.

It turns out that students and parents found the blog and then shared it with her administration. She was then put on paid leave pending an investigation and ultimately fired. She sued the district to keep her job saying that she was fired for expressing her views. The courts ruled against her.

“The First Amendment does not require a school district to continue to employ a teacher who expresses the kind of hostility and disgust against her students that Munroe did on her blog and then publicly defends such comments to the media,”

Finally we talk about Mimi Groves. A high school student who used a racial slur in a 3 second Snapchat. Snapchat is a social media that says posts are deleted after they’ve been viewed. She sent the video to one friend who then sent it to others. She made the video for her freshmen year. Jimmy Galligan (a classmate) took offense to it and held onto it until she was a senior to teach her a lesson.

In her senior year Mimi had been accepted into the University of Tennessee to the cheer squad (defending NCAA champs). Jimmy released the video to the public. It went viral and ultimately the University of Tennessee rescinded its acceptance.

The bottom line is that what you put online, a Tweet, Facebook post, blog post, direct messages, text messages, Snaps, email, etc. Keep in the back of your mind that this is not private. That someone can print it out, take a screenshot, forward it without your knowledge to anyone they want. If you use these sites be careful because it is not private. 

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