People Behaving Badly, Facebook or Not

With the start of graduation season, Ars Technica recently offered a world-wide round up of people-behaving-badly-on-Facebook stories, all linked in some way to kids and schools.

We have the principal masquerading as a girl on the social networking site to keep tabs on his students. And the online fight that spilled out into the real world in the form of a physical assault at school. Plus an assortment of attempts to legally restrict kids and/or adults based on perceived online threats. With a teacher-posting-stupid-things story thrown in for good measure.

It’s certainly a provocative collection of stories, the kind your local “film at 11” local news might present to goose ratings by stirring concerns about kids and/or teachers using social media (and maybe already has).

Of course, these incidents involve fewer than a dozen participants in Facebook’s 700,000+ community and the writer of the article ends with the conclusion the big media outlets should also arrive at.

Social media can go wrong in so many ways for students, teachers, and administrators, yet it can also be a terrific tool for bringing communities together and for strengthening relationships. And most of the issues here have analogues in the “grown-up” world of employer/employee relationships, and another set of analogues when it comes to government and intelligence agency use of social media posts to spot fake marriages, monitor “chatter,” and even ban people from entering the country.

In other words, technology is not the problem. Without Facebook, these same people would find other channels in which to act stupidly, although probably not with as much transparency.

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