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Is what you do and what you post a first amendment right? Maybe not if one follows the trends...

Too much free speech?

Teacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password

A teacher’s aide at an elementary school was fired last year for refusing to give her Facebook login credentials to her supervisors, ZDNet reported on Sunday. In April 2011, Kimberly Hester signed on to Facebook while she was not at work and jokingly posted a picture of a co-worker’s pants around her ankles, with the caption “Thinking of you.” A parent and Facebook friend saw Hester’s photo and complained to the school. A few days later, the superintendent reportedly requested three times that she hand over her user name and password. Hester refused each time, and was put on paid administrative leave and eventually suspended as a result. She is now at the center of a legal battle with the school district, with arbitration scheduled for May.
More, after.

The Wired article

Teacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password

A parent and Facebook friend of Hester’s saw the photo and complained to the school. A few days later, Lewis Cass ISD superintendent Robert Colby asked her three times for access to her Facebook account. Hester refused each of the district superintendent’s requests.

Soon after, Colby wrote Hester a letter, a part of which said the following, according to WSBT: “…in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.” Hester says he put her on paid administrative leave and eventually suspended her

Well, someone is awake..
Michigan State Representatives Matt Lori and Aric Nesbitt have contacted Hester to let her know they are including her story in House Bill 5523, which aims to make it illegal for employers to ask employees and prospective employees for their Facebook password. Michigan is one of several states currently pushing for legislation that would make such practice illegal.
They're both Repubs?  What am I missing here?  MI Dems, anyone?

Okay, based on reports, seems an embarrassing picture at the very least, no mention of where it came from.  Facebook friends can't do this type of thing?  An apology and delete won't do?  There are screw ups and then there is 1984...

"They" are coming for us.  But who is they?  Please don't respond just the Repubs..what about Leahy and our "favorite" Lieberman.  There is something insidious going on, don't y'a think?

 And how do we stop them?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:01:23 PM PDT

  •  We need the laws (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EdMass, kravitz, ozsea1, Lujane

    and we need to stop this before it goes any further, but every time I see one of these stories I can't help thinking about the easy solution:

    Don't Use Facebook!  (or the competition)

    •  I stopped using 2 years ago... had a sense (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xgy2, grannycarol, ozsea1, holeworm, ColoTim, Lujane

      something like this was coming.  If I can see it, so can everyone else.  

      My status..not sharing...

      Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

      by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:13:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Me too, around the same time that Foursquare and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, nchristine

        other excessive-sharing apps were becoming more and more common. Employers have access to more random crap without even logging in than they should, just from default privacy settings being lax. You can blame the users, but in reality, the simple fact is that Facebook makes more money the more open their default privacy settings are.

        It's as simple as that. If Facebook makes more things private by default, they lose money. So it's not in their business interests to do more than react as minimally as possible whenever some new privacy issue pops into the media.

        The recent article about "Girls Around Me" shows just how messed up privacy in general is regarding Facebook and related apps.

        And that's not even getting into employers and hiring manager demanding passwords, but that's just really just one piece of a larger privacy issue.

    •  Cute, but too facile.* (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madmojo, Catte Nappe, Lujane

      Some of actually benefit from our Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. I began to use it for promoting my business, and I've found additional benefits from the social connection it brings as well as being able to network around my politics. I would not be willing to give that up. I support encoding the right to privacy around social networks into law.

      *of course, I respond to transgressions from the TSA by saying "I don't fly" which is true - so I'm somewhat in your corner ;)

      Support a starving artisan: Buy My Stuff New bracelets just listed!

      by jan4insight on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:23:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Having been a hiring manager (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xgy2, ColoTim, Lujane

        just about 2 years ago it became a standard part of the hiring drill to check Facebook, etc for more "background" on the candidate...

        Also, HR began "monitoring" employee social media accounts.  Due diligence don't y'a know...

        Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

        by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:28:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Speaking only for myself - (4+ / 0-)

          I don't mind if an employer is reading my FB account, as I have it set for public information anyway. It's the requiring of password access as a condition of employment that chaps my hide!

          Support a starving artisan: Buy My Stuff New bracelets just listed!

          by jan4insight on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:37:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Difference between (0+ / 0-)

            FB as a business vs. personal account, imho.

            Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

            by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:40:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed. (5+ / 0-)

            The information I want to be public is public.  The information I want to be heavily restricted is heavily restricted.  It ends there, as far as I'm concerned.

            A corollary, for people who don't want to get caught in this kind of mess: don't add coworkers and, if you're a teacher, don't add your students or their families.   You may think that you're friends, but friendships end way more careers than one would think.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:51:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Something I have learned from experience (8+ / 0-)

              You have no friends at work.

              Let me emphasize that:

              You have no friends at work.

              Don't even think of giving anyone at work anything other than severely restricted access to your personal information.

              The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

              by raboof on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 01:08:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Friendly Not Friends (3+ / 0-)

                I tend to go with "Friendly but not Friends" in regard to work both as a manager to those under my charge as well as co-workers. Some of my best friends are former co-workers and bosses though. With very few exceptions, I didn't consider myself to be friends with them until after we were no longer working together.

                I think being too distant is also a problem when workers need to come together, trust one another, and organize.

                It is a very precarious thing having friends and family in the work place.

              •  I have this same policy... (0+ / 0-)

                I learned it from my dad, who used to say "no friends at work.  It gets in the way of doing business."  Same goes for family.  During the summers when everyone at his level pulled strings and got their college-age kids internships at the company (highly sought after), he refused to the same for me because he was dead set against nepotism and didn't want to have to discipline me if I did something wrong and strain our non-work relationship because of it.

                I took the lesson to heart.  When I get away from work, the last thing I want to do is interact with the idiots I work with.  Going home means I'm done with them for at least a few hours, anyway.  LOL

                On the other hand, you have to know that this policy can cause problems for you as an employee.  Whether we like it or not, things like raises, promotions and special assignments are often given based on intra-office politics.  Eschewing the gossip mill, steering clear of politics, and eating lunch by yourself can have negative impacts down the line.

                I used to take it to extremes:  I didn't even go to company holiday parties.  Not only cause I have no use for holidays or parties in general, but I didn't want to be exposed to people rip-roaring drunk (and all the crap that comes with that) that I'd have to see on Monday....  I did go to one party because the CEO caught me in the elevator and made it clear that I should go, even though I didn't want to.  I could have lied and said I had pre-existing plans, but I didn't.   I went and I had two coworkers I worked with who were drunk, and had lost all inhibitions.   One was crawling all over me in public making me feel very uncomfortable (I was in a long term relationship at the time), and the other was drunk and having a fight with the significant other and trying to use me as a jealousy device....    

                The best policy I've found is to simply work for myself.  My boss is an asshole, but at least I get to make my own hours.   ;)  

    •  GIGO. Repeat after me. GIGO. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grannycarol, ozsea1

      Garbage In, Garbage Out.

      While that famous geek term refers to bad programming code, I suggest is be tweaked to suggest nasty stuff you put online can become differently nasty stuff offline.

      So if you don't want it affecting you later, don't post it.

      Resist the urge.

      Self control.

      You're not that important.

      It's not that cute a photo.

      GIGO. GIGO. GIGO.

      cheerleaders need not apply.

      by kravitz on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:23:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's more ME ME ME (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grannycarol, ozsea1, kravitz

        Everybody look at me!

        Never occurs to them that some might not like what they see.

      •  actually, it does not refer to code (4+ / 0-)

        it describes a programming principle, and "garbage" refers to invalid input data.

        There are two schools of thought on invalid input data. One says that a program should throw an error and stop after it encounters invalid data in internal processing (i.e. after it has already accepted the data for processing). This school places a premium on data integrity - the idea here is that faulty data will only corrupt more data if it is advanced to other stages of processing, and so it is better to throw an error and force operator intervention. This is called "garbage in - crash".

        The other school places a premium on the integrity of the process itself - the program that does the work. It argues that whoever presented invalid input should not expect valid output anyway, and so the continued running of the process is more important than the correctness of its output. This is called "garbage in - garbage out".

        Both have their justification in real life, and are used in different situations.

        •  in the 70s, GIGO was about data input. (0+ / 0-)

          as databases went from pencil and paper to digitized, entry errors were rather common. and of course, errors in manual calculations that were passed into computer databases created their own class of headaches.

          as those issues went away, the term did change its reason for being.

          cheerleaders need not apply.

          by kravitz on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 08:46:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But there's another side to the problem.... (0+ / 0-)

        I can stop myself from putting stupid stuff on these sites, but I can't stop other people from putting it on there.  

        A couple of recent articles talked about how much more timid the Spring Break crowds were this year.  Fewer wet t-shirt contests, drunken debauchery and the like.  Some might say that's a good thing, and it might be, but the reason people cited for it was they were afraid a third party would take pictures and put them on their Facebook account, and that this would reflect poorly on the revelers in job searches.  There is no way to deal with that, other than asking the other person to remove it, provided you even know it's there and who to ask.  

        I'm not advocating wet t-shirt contests or drunken debauchery by any means, however I temper that with the fact that people should be able to engage in legal pastimes (regardless of my opinion of those activities) without the fear of someone taking pictures and having them land on the HR manager's desk on Monday morning.

        I guess the rule is that even if you don't put video of yourself acting dumb on the internet, that's not enough.  IN the days when everyone has a video camera with internet access in their front pocket, you have to assume everyone can see everything.  

        That to me is insidious, and a terrible way to live your life.  Facebook, et al, have changed the landscape of privacy expectations, and not only for the people who choose to use it.    

        •  I was able to show someone an example shot. (0+ / 0-)

          Nowhere near the subject. Got a perfectly clear image through a crowd. No one around appeared to know I got that picture.

          Then again, if you're in public and half naked, you're on camera. Just maybe not mine.

          cheerleaders need not apply.

          by kravitz on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 08:51:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EdMass, ozsea1

    This is a rightwing trend but it would hardly be the first rightwing move by either an individual Democrat or the party.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:09:50 PM PDT

  •  i'm wondering if the day will come (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, maf1029

    when employers will only hire job seekers with facebook accounts.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:23:00 PM PDT

  •  All part of the New and Improved Slavery™! (0+ / 0-)

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:24:07 PM PDT

  •  I hope people here remain consistent (0+ / 0-)

    I seem to remember not so long ago when a teacher posted some anti-gay comments on Facebook and some here called for her to be fired.  

    Because this is a government employer, both that teacher, and this teacher's aide, have First Amendment rights, I would think.

    By the way, this is not an issue of "employers and employees" (as the title indicates) because this is a government employer.  That means the First Amendment comes into play.  Private employers are not bound by the First Amendment.

    •  Could you explain more? (0+ / 0-)

      If the gubmint employs there is one set of rules but not otherwise? This doesn't seem good either...

      Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

      by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:32:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think he means (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe

        that the 1st Amendment says the the government cannot abridge your freedom of speech. If you work for a government, that rule counts. If you're working for a private entity, there's no obligation for them to respect your right to free speech because they aren't a government entity.

        There have been a few court cases that hashed this out, but I don't remember what the boundaries were offhand.

        •  That's it exactly. (4+ / 0-)

          The First Amendment is a restriction on government ("Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.")  

          You only have First Amendment rights with respect to action by the government.  

          Under the Federal Constitution, a government employer cannot fire you because of your political views, for example.  However, under the Federal Constitution, a politically progressive employer can fire an employee because that employee is an ultra right-wing conservative.  The only reasons a private employer can't fire you are the ones identified in the Civil Rights laws (race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.)  (Some states civil rights laws make political views part of that, but that's a minority, I think.)  

          So, if either the teacher who posted about homosexuality, or this teacher's aide, were in a private school, it would be much easier for that private employer to fire them based on what they said on Facebook.  Private employers can do that. Government employers are bound by the First Amendment.  

          •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

            Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

            by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 01:27:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure I understand the parallel. (0+ / 0-)

      The issue here is whether the employer has the right to demand a password to seek out non-public evidence of behavior.  

      If the line had been drawn at reprimanding her for the picture itself, along the lines of the complaint filed, I think we wouldn't be having this discussion.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 12:59:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's not exactly it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        The employer said, if you don't turn over your info so we can see what you posted, "we'll assume the worst" and discipline you for that.  They disciplined her for what others said she posted on Facebook, because she didn't provide the information to show that what she was accused of was not true.

        And this from the diary:

        Okay, based on reports, seems an embarrassing picture at the very least, no mention of where it came from.  Facebook friends can't do this type of thing?  An apology and delete won't do?  There are screw ups and then there is 1984...
        The only reason they wanted the info was because she was accused of posting something inappropriate. It's not like she had to turn this over to get a job, or that teachers were randomly asked to turn this over.  It was a quest to see whether she had posted something inappropriate on Facebook.  

        My point is that teachers who work for the government either have First Amendment rights or they don't.  

        •  Madness (0+ / 0-)

          I would think the threat of violating the CFAA and that these bosses may be violating federal law by trying to bypass the terms of service of these websites by coercing employees to fork over account information should be an adequate deterrent for this behavior.

          Perhaps if people framed the argument with their boss or HR person in such a manner these instances would stop happening so frequently. A defined right to privacy would be nice though.

          •  I always wonder how the employers who ask for (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fuzzyguy, nchristine

            Terms Of Service violations like handing over a Facebook password then manage to expect those same people to abide by Non-Disclosure and Non-Compete agreements as soon as the hiring paperwork is finalized.

            They've ruled out hiring anyone with an absolute moral imperative to never violate such agreements, after all.

            Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 02:39:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Your point is mistaken. (0+ / 0-)

          Check up on the Pickering-Connick test, for starters.  It's not an either/or thing.  

          If the teacher's unwilling to hand over the picture in question, then it should be handled the same way it would have been in the pre-Facebook era: weighing the parents' complaints as judiciously as possible.  Asking for her password to her entire social media history is not a legitimate request.

          If the complaints are coming from multiple sources, it's unlikely the teacher will keep her employment, at least not without some kind of formal reprimand.

          Your comparison to the other case still doesn't make much sense.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 02:52:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Let me put it another way: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, Anjana

          Two or three parents complain that they've seen the teacher out in public with an offensive t-shirt.   The school requests that the teacher defend herself by handing over the keys to her house so they can see if the t-shirt in question is in her wardrobe.

          Is that an acceptable request?

          I hope we can agree that, in that scenario, the school's response is unacceptable.  The teacher might still face disciplinary action (given that the complaints are coming from multiple sources), but the school's request is out of line.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 04:02:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  And, as always (0+ / 0-)
      I hope people here remain consistent
      seem to remember not so long ago when a teacher posted some anti-gay comments on Facebook and some here called for her to be fired.
      Thanks for your concern. I don't know how we would survive without it.

      "What have you done for me, lately?" ~ Lady Liberty

      by ozsea1 on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 01:20:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's not the issue (0+ / 0-)

      As reported, she wasn't fired for posting the picture. Whether or not she could have been fired for posting it is a separate question from whether the posting givers her employer the legal right to demand her facebook password.

  •  You asked? Here's an answer.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EdMass

    You asked where we go from here...

    One, we generate conversation.  Today the internet is our speech... Instead of spoken word, we can now communicate thoughts, pictures, cartoons, jokes, to people to who we'd do the same, if they were right beside us (only they aren't). Today, they could be on the other side of the globe.

    But we need first to recognize that we have that right.  We should be allowed to say what we want on the internet.  It is a basic right... The picture for which she was fired, communicates a direct message, just as if she had written a long hand letter. .... Collapsed, it says:  "this is how I feel."

    Now two:

    Once we have a consensus that this is the type of internet we deserve, and want, and will vote to get... then we need to establish it's protection under our laws.  

    It is an uncontested right, that if a corporation treats someone badly, they have a right to say, this corporation is treating me badly.  No one will argue that.

    But if we do it on face book, it is suddenly a crime?  

    No, the true crime is that the corporation treated that person badly, and for that, they should have no right to control that message, and in fact, they probably deserve every bit of bad publicity they get....
    Skimming the comments above one sees a lot of ones that look like this: "I'm smart; I don't use face-book."  That is a problem, not a solution.  We are choosing not to use one of the greatest social connectors in mankind's history, because of fb bully's....

    In elementary school, which do we do?  Do we punish the kids who get nose broken by bullies?  And then give the bullies more rights to "police" the halls?  Of course not.

    Three:  all it will take to control this, is the simple passage of exorbitant penalties for anyone CAUGHT leaking someone else's information.... . In this case the friend who told the school board, would lose their house.  In turn, the school board could lose all of its last referendum increase...  What this does, .... is minimize the damage of snoops.  

    We are all snoops.  Hell, that is what attracts us to face-book in the first place...( Hmmm,  I wonder what L'll Susie looks like now?  Maybe I'll have a go at her; I'm sure she's forgiven me by now...lol.)  So, to complain that someone actually looked into your account is fruitless and impossible to monitor and a monster to control... that is, of course, unless you choose to use the chastity-belt version that Facebook willingly provides... If you do, then you are losing out on a lot of fun....

    But......

    If you are damaged in anyway, monetarily, than you have huge potential penlites watching your back.  What this does, is suddenly turn the tables.  Every administrator, every human resource officer, every IT overseer, is now being told he is responsible for any such leaks that might cost the company money.  Lots and lots and lots of money.

    The crime is not on who peeks... it is on.. who tells.  

    If you have reasonable assurances that your privacy is intact and you post something that you want all your friends to see,  woe be to that person who reports it....

    Woe be to that administrator who requests your password...

    For given up that password, not only gives up your innermost privacy and deepest secrets..... it also gives up the privacy and secrets of those who trusted you with their friendship...

    That is how, ... you get freedom back... Make them pay... Hugely...

    •  Perhaps more to this than a "reasoned" (0+ / 0-)

      answer?  Believe me, I am not asking.  

      I appreciate your posting here.

      Thank you.

      Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

      by EdMass on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 04:25:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have seen quite a few jobs that want you to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine

    apply through Facebook, or to provide a link to your facebook page when you apply so they can "see what your interests are." WTF does a person's personal interests have to do with how qualified they are to do their job? I don't use Facebook aside from the old company page I used to run, so I guess I couldn't even apply for these jobs.

    I find this disturbing.

    One thing I thought a person could easily do was lie and pad their Facebook page when applying to these kind of jobs. Studied at Yale and received a Phd at the age of 21, etc.

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