Drunken Smack Talk on SocNets Can Get You Fired

Ah, the perils of social networking. The public nature of a social networking profile such as those seen on MySpace means that one must be careful what they post online. Stacy Snyder, a former student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, learned that the hard way. As a student-teacher, Snyder was working at a high school where she ran into a bit of trouble, receiving poor reviews for unprofessionalism in the classroom.

But because of a photo of her holding a cocktail with a caption that read “drunken pirate” along with a negative remark regarding her student teacher supervisor, Snyder was denied her bachelors degree in the field of education, reports ReadWriteWeb.

Millersville did end up giving Snyder a degree in English, but Snyder decided to sue the University after her appeal was denied. Yet Snyder lost the court case as well. The fact of the matter is, Snyder had already been banned from campus before the photo became part of the equation. So why was the photo so pertinent in the grand scheme of things?

I’m liable to think that the public reference made to Snyder’s supervisor pushed matters over the top. Especially as Snyder’s case plead that it was her first amendment right to free speech that allowed her to make such a statement about her supervisor, and this plea was denied since the statement was work related.

Now, I have a handful of friends that work in the education sector or in a field that implies a bad reputation online means a bad evaluation at work. They all have to monitor their photo uploads, captions, wall postings, and comments on their social networking profiles. It’s par for the course, given the mainstream permeation of online social networks. But should we be more concerned about Snyder, her student-teaching program at Millersville, or MySpace?

Granted, Facebook has done its part to aide users in avoiding these types of situations, as opposed to MySpace. That doesn’t mean that Snyder’s MySpace activity should become the scapegoat here. People fear social networks because they don’t fully understand how they operate, and unfortunately such fear merely gives MySpace more power as an influence over our culture.