• Sat, Mar 2 2013

When People Start Realizing Facebook Is Public, Maybe They’ll Stop Losing Their Jobs

shutterstock_59578786Yet another person is facing repercussions because they failed to realize that Facebook is a public forum and posting documents from their jobs that are supposed to remain “confidential” isn’t exactly okay. A former Penn admissions officer who shared excerpts from applicants’ essays on her personal Facebook page is no longer employed by the University. Another professional fired for Facebook. When will they learn?

Nadirah Farah Foley was responsible for coordinating Penn admissions in Connecticut. Near the end of 2012, Penn’s Office of Admissions was made aware of some posts Foley made on her Facebook page, directly quoting student admissions essays and openly mocking them:

In one essay, a student had written about his “long and deep” connections to the University, citing the fact that he had been circumcised at Penn Hillel years ago.

“I look forward to engaging in the academic, social and Orthodox Jewish communities on campus,” the student wrote, according to Foley’s post.

“Stop the madness,” Foley said in response to the essay on Facebook.

In another excerpt, she quoted an essay in which an applicant had described the experience of overcoming his fear of using the bathroom outdoors while camping in the wilderness.

“Another gem,” Foley wrote of the student’s topic choice.

I realize that one of the main functions of Facebook is spreading funny memes and anecdotes. I have a twisted sense of humor. I may or may not get a laugh out of someone referencing their fear of the potty on their college admissions essay. Who am I kidding, I would totally get a laugh out of that. But that’s neither here nor there. This is totally inappropriate and Foley, a Princeton graduate, should realize it.

Foley confirmed that she is no longer employed at Penn, but declined to comment any further to the University of Pennsylvania’s student paper. I wonder how many times this story has circulated on Facebook since her departure? How many times do you think it was linked with the statements, “Stop the madness,” or “Another gem?”

Talk about instant karma.

(photo: Lasse Kristensen/ Shutterstock.com)

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  • Lastango

    All the institutions and regulated professions seem to be having a problem with inappropriate disclosure and unprofessional comment on the web by their employees. In some cases, real harm was done, and the postings amounted to bullying.

    In other cases, it’s more gray (no individual people identified), but the posting can suggest to the public that they might be ridiculed behind the scenes, and that people who work there think that’s ok. Also, some professions (like ALL the healthcare professions) have respect for others as part of their codes of conduct. It’s never ok — on the web, or anywhere else, in writing or verbally — to talk about what jerks some of the patients are. That applies no matter how awful the patient’s conduct was, and whether the public could access the comment or not, because it can contribute to a climate of disrespect. In the education system, there’s a similar ethos about demeaning students or parents.

    When people post something they shouldn’t, or say something they shouldn’t, it sometimes happens because they’re getting frustrated, and a lot of other things in their lives are not going well. For instance, it can be a clue to substance abuse, or financial problems.

  • faifai

    See, this is why teachers (and other public-eye professionals) really need to have 2 facebook accounts: a “public” account under their given name, and a private “family-only” account under an assumed name.

  • Zoe

    A recent court case in Australia saw a truck driver fired for racially and sexually slandering his supervisor on Facebook, on numerous occasions. He had many work colleagues as friends and one of them brought it to the supervisor’s attention.

    He claimed that he thought his profile was private and he would never have written those things if he knew his work colleagues could see them. The ruling was in his favour and he was re-employed, but the workplace relations tribunal issued a warning that ignorance was not going to be a viable defense for infractions on social media forums much longer.