13 Minnesota Students Disciplined For Facebook Photos

I’ve blogged several times, such as here, here and here, about how information posted to the Internet, such as on Facebook and other social networking sites, cannot be considered as being private or secure, have been used to make hiring and firing decisions, and how it has impacted lives in other ways.
Well, now information posted to social networking sites are being used by schools.

This week the Eden Prairie school district used photos and other information that was provided to them from Facebook to investigate 42 students and discipline 13 students who violated their school policies.
The 13 disciplined were reportedly shown online drinking alcohol.

“Punishments include suspensions from sports and other activities, angering students who think administrators went too far. Some students are planning a walkout after first period this morning, and they’re promoting the protest where the controversy began: on Facebook.com.”

Will be interesting to see how that Facebook.com protest goes.
Here is the Eden Prairie schools policy handbook.
It is important to note that some of those students disciplined did not have Facebook pages of their own, but their friends posted their photos on the friends’ Facebook pages. Not only do you need to NOT post your own personal information, but you have to worry about others who may post information about you.
People worry about widespread government surveillance. However, technology allows basically everyone around us to be performing surveillance of some sort. It used to be that embarassing situations or tell-tale activities would only be witnessed by those in the immediate vicinity and then possibly gossiped about for a short while and eventually fade from memory.
The Internet and immediate photo and video technologies now change that. Doing embarassing or stupid things can now be preserved forever in unlimited numbers of posted and cached locations throughout the Internet using a quick click by friends and others nearby, never to be forgotten.
I’ve talked often about how no one should ever expect that information posted to these sites should be considered as being secure or private. I wrote about it in “On The Internet, If It Looks, Quacks and Walks Like a Duck, Is It REALLY a Duck?” and other articles.
I also wrote about the security and privacy issues of using social networking sites in the first issue of my Protecting Information employee newsletter. I write this publication in such a way that all employees at all levels of the organization can understand and relate to the information and use it not only during work but also in their personal life, and help their family and friends understand the issues. I always include within this newsletter an article written by a teen so that the organizations’ personnel can take the newsletter home and share with their families and also help them to understand the perspectives of youth with regard to the issue topic.
In fact, what is very coincidental with this situation is that the youth writer for my Protecting Information issue about social networking sites goes to the Eden Prairie high school! And no, he was not one of the students investigated or disciplined. This indicent makes his article from just a couple of months ago that more compelling.

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