Lesson 1: Private Today, Public Tomorrow
- Why do you think things posted online tend to persist, even when you prefer they didn't?
- What kinds of things might be good for your reputation in the future if they are posted online now? What kinds of things might be harmful?
- Consider the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." What do you think this saying means?
Read the following story and be prepared to discuss it in class. Please note that although the article references an old social platform, the behavior is still relevant on current social platforms.
College Sued Over “Drunken Pirate” Sanctions
Woman claims teaching degree denied because of single MySpace photo
(Source: The Smoking Gun)
APRIL 26, 2007 — A Pennsylvania woman claims that her teaching career has been derailed by college administrators who unfairly disciplined her over a MySpace photo that shows her wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. In a federal lawsuit, Stacy Snyder charges that Millersville University brass accused her of promoting underage drinking after they discovered her MySpace photo, which was captioned “Drunken Pirate.” The picture from Snyder’s MySpace page (which she says was snapped at a costume party outside school hours) can be seen below.
In her complaint, Snyder, a 25-year-old single mother of two, says that
Millersville officials discovered the image last May, while she was a senior
working as a student-teacher at Conestoga Valley High School. A university official told her that the photo was “unprofessional” and could have offended her students if they accessed her MySpace page. At the time the “Drunken Pirate” photo was taken, Snyder was of legal age to drink, though her lawsuit notes that the photo “does not show the cup’s contents. ”...
Despite good grades and solid performance evaluations, Snyder claims that school officials improperly denied her a bachelor of science in education degree and a teaching certificate. The university, Snyder added, instead granted her a bachelor of arts degree last May 13. Because the school refuses to confirm that she satisfactorily completed her student teaching requirements, Snyder claims that she has been unable to secure certification from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education. Snyder’s lawyer, Mark Voigt, told TSG (TheSmokingGun.com) that his client now works as a nanny. He added that school officials should actually be “celebrating” Snyder, a mother of two young children who returned to school to get a teaching degree.
- Do you think Millersville University was justified in disqualifying Stacy from earning her teaching degree because of her profile page? Why, or why not?
- How would the situation be different if the context of the photo were taken into account? For instance: What if the caption of the photo was not "Drunken Pirate", but "Happy Halloween" or "My friend forced me to wear this pirate hat"? What if a post accompanying the photo said that it had been taken at a child's birthday party and Stacy was drinking punch?
- What if Stacy's friend Joe had posted the picture of Stacy without her knowing it, and tagged her with the "Drunken Pirate" caption? Does the fact that Joe posted the picture change the situation? Why or why not?
- Does Joe have a responsibility to ask Stacy before he posts (and tags) a picture of her? Do other people, including strangers who come across the photo online, have the responsibility to check with Stacy before they tag or repost the photo? Why, or why not?
- Do you ever post things online about your friends? Do you comment on or tag their posts or photos? How do you decide what is okay?
- What if your own judgement about a post is different from a friend's? For example, imagine you've posted a photo of a group of friends. One friend immediately comments that she loves it, but another complains that he doesn't like the way he looks, and asks that you to take it down. You think everyone in the photo looks great. What do you do?
- How can people's reputations be affected by what is posted about them online? What impact could this have on their future?
- What should you ask yourself before you post a photo, video, or other information about another person online?
- How can you take responsibility for protecting the privacy and reputation of others?
Lesson 3: Oops I Broadcast It on the Internet
- How do you share information for fun with others?
- What are some benefits of sharing information online?
- What are some consequences of sharing information online?
- What kinds of things do you think Eva and her friend were IMing to one another?
- Do you think it was fair of Eva’s friend’s dad to look at the chat transcript?
- What might be the consequences for Eva of her mom knowing about the IM chat?
- Why might Eva have said things on chat that she wouldn’t say in person?
- Why do you think Brittney and her friends wanted to broadcast themselves in the first place?
- Brittney regrets posting the photos, but are there situations when you think it would be okay, even helpful, to get comments from others online? What are those situations?
- In what ways did Brittney’s actions impact her later? Can you imagine how the posts may impact Brittney in the future, even beyond college?
- Is there anything that you learned from Brittney’s story that made you think about incidents in your own life or your friends’ lives? If so, can you share those stories (leaving out personal details)?
Emma’s Secret Crush Goes Viral
Over the past few weeks, Emma has developed a huge crush on José. She thinks he might like her, too. She knows gossip travels like lightning at school, so she tells only her best friend, Chantal, by texting her after school: “Do you think José likes me? I kinda have a little crush on him.” Emma also swears Chantal to secrecy over the phone later that night. Though Chantal vows to keep her secret, she forwards Emma’s text to Zeke, who forwards it to a friend, who ... you know the rest! The next day at school, one of the soccer players, Ted, texts Emma: “Emma+José=so adorable.” Emma is shocked and embarrassed because she told only her best friend, and then swore her to secrecy.
- If you were Emma, what would you do when you got Ted’s text? Who, if anyone, is most at fault for spreading Emma’s secret?
- How would this situation be different if Emma had told her friends about the crush in person instead of by sending a text message?
- How could Emma resolve or fix the situation herself? Is there a way she could make the situation better?
- Has anyone ever shared information about you or someone you know over IM, text, the Internet, etc. that you wanted to keep private? If so, what did you do?
My Secret Diary ... Sort Of
Tommy has been writing a blog about his life that he thought was pretty private because he used a username that wasn’t his real name. But when his parents ask him why he decided not to try out for the basketball team, Tommy figures out that they have been reading his blog, because it’s the only place he describes being picked on for being so short. Tommy is annoyed and surprised because he never told his parents about the blog and certainly didn’t give them his username to access it. His blog is technically public, but he didn’t think anyone could connect his blog with the “real” him. Tommy later finds out that his best friend’s parents told his parents about the blog.
- What would you say, if anything, to your parents if you were Tommy?
- How is Tommy’s parents’ reading his blog similar to or different from reading a diary that he’s written in a notebook or paper journal?
Do you think it’s fair for Tommy’s parents to read the things he posts on the Internet, given that his blog is technically public? Why or why not?
Why might Tommy’s parents want to read his blog? Given these reasons, how would you react if your parents asked to read your email or text messages?
Have you ever been in a situation where your parents or someone else has asked to read something that you felt was private? If so, how did you feel? What did you do?
- What are some examples of people sharing in a rewarding way?
- What things can you do to minimize oversharing in your own life?
- How can you create a positive digital footprint?