An article on the BBC news site today tells about Elizabeth Scarlett who was disciplined by the General Teaching Council for Wales for injudicious comments on her Facebook profile. Whilst I don’t think any of us expect teachers to be perfect I think we do hope that they will have the sense to behave in an appropriate way or at least be discrete about their shenanigans.
There are several things that we can learn from this unfortunate episode.
Learn how it works
If you’re going to have a Facebook account at least take the time to find out how it works and lock down your privacy settings if you plan to say anything that could be miscontrued or that you don’t want the world to read. Understand how sharing works on Facebook. If you want to find out what others see (and you’re using the new Facebook profile) then you can check what your profile looks like to someone who has no connections to you, you can also see what it looks like to a particular friend. Instructions here. If you haven’t moved over to the new profile you can get the same information here.
Think carefully about who your friends are…
Come on lady, you’re a primary school teacher, you’re 50 years old – are your pupils really your friends? Should you be friending pupils, ex pupils on Facebook? Probably not. Should you be getting some friends of your own age? Probably.
Whatever job you do, you should think carefully about who you add as a friend. Is it a great idea to let your boss know that you are a hard drinking, coke sniffing, lap dancer? Or that you spend your weekends knitting tea cosies? Is it really clever to let your young pupils know that you’re a wild party animal? Great role model you are then!
If in doubt – don’t. It’s much easier not to overshare than to try and recover from it afterwards.
Don’t believe everything that an expert tells you…
Hadyn Blackey, from the University of Glamorgan has been “been working with schools to inform teachers on how to offer children guidance on how to safeguard their privacy online”. His suggestion is “”I would recommend that, in terms of pupils, you set up a separate account.”
Do that and you’ve gone against Facebook’s Terms of Service (4.2 You will not create more than one personal profile) and you risk having all your accounts closed down.
So, what do you think?
What are your views on this? Was Elizabeth Scarlett wrong? Misguided? Or was it all OK? Share your views in the comments section.