A Teacher's Nude Facebook Pic Leak Exposes Internet Dangers

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

A Teacher's Nude Facebook Pic Leak Exposes Internet Dangers

If you needed any more proof that perhaps it’s not a wonderful idea for students and teachers to be friends on Facebook, here it is; this week, a revered high school football coach and math and science teacher in the Oxford Hills School District in Maine resigned after a nude photo taken of himself that was originally intended for his girlfriend was accidentally shared on his public Facebook page.

While the picture was unintentionally made accessible to coach Paul Withee’s entire social network – and not just his Valentine – the faux pas was enough to make Withee bow his head and resign after the parent of one of his football players discovered the completely nude photo of Withee on his Facebook profile page.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Withee has refused to comment on the incident, but the Oxford Hills Superintendent assured school and community members that the photo was online for only 10 minutes before it was removed.

This 10-minute period, however, shed light on the very reason that community members are often concerned about teachers and students connecting via social media sites – because they can become privy to highly personal information. Ironically enough, this school district had a policy that allowed for teachers to become friends with students on Facebook.

But around the world, the sentiment is different as educators argue that these types of interactions can quickly become illicit, that students gain unnatural glimpses into their teachers’ personal lives and vice versa, and that these types of interactions are not happening in a safe environment. While I certainly agree that this incident illustrates the very dangers surrounding the teacher/student social network relationship – particularly because these kids could have seen this photo – I think it more importantly reminds teenagers of the dangers associated with sending nude photos over the Internet (or taking them in the first place).

From the Kim Kardashians to the Paris Hiltons to the Scarlett Johanssons, there are certainly a fair amount of young adults and teens shedding their clothes to send intimate pictures to loved ones (or those that loved them at the time). However, students nowadays need to realize that with the advent of the Internet, these pictures can stream over cyberspace in a matter of milliseconds and that a publically viewed picture could potentially be something you have to carry with you during every college admissions meeting and job interview thereafter.

Withee’s carelessness demonstrated two things a grown adult has failed to realize – no picture is safe anymore and something that you attempt to make for private eyes only can become public with the wrong click of a button. And in just moments, a decades-long career and reputation can be shattered.

So students, let this educator’s huge mistake be a lesson to you. The Internet may be one of your greatest friends, providing you with the likes of SparkNotes and Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter. But, it is also your greatest adversary – there to exacerbate what could have been an otherwise innocuous moment and tarnish your reputation for years to come.



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