Facebook and Privacy: Fired for Beer Photos?

Think your Facebook profile is private? So did former teacher Ashley Payne, till she got fired for posting pictures from a European vacation.

Your Facebook profile is probably full of things that can get you fired. Just ask 24-year-old Ashley Payne, a former English teacher at Apalachee High School in Winder, Georgia. Back in 2009, Payne's principal asked her to resign over a photo taken during a summer European vacation and posted on Facebook. Her story was featured on the most recent episode of the CBS news show 48 hours, "Did the Internet Kill Privacy?" and it spotlights how vulnerable we are—teachers and everyone else—to our online "private" behavior being made public.

In the objectionable photo, Payne has a glass of wine in one hand, and a glass of beer in the other. Her principal, David McGee, claimed that a concerned parent complained about the photo. According to the district, Payne violated warnings about "unacceptable online activities" because the photo "promoted alcohol use," and her page also "contained profanity."

Payne's lawyer Richard Storrs says the school district's interpretation is ridiculous. "It would be like I went to a restaurant and I saw my daughter's teacher sitting there with her husband having a glass of some kind of liquid. You know, is that frowned upon by the school board? Is that illegal? Is that improper? Of course not. It's the same situation in this case," he says.

Payne's case isn't the first time someone's been fired over their use of social media. Plenty of litigation is pending over employees being fired for things they've posted online. But what makes Payne's story especially concerning is that she did what many of us do to protect ourselves in cyberspace—she put her Facebook privacy on the highest level. That means what's on her page should have only been visible to her friends, which did not include students or their parents.

Payne either has a frenemy or Facebook's privacy settings failed her. Given the amount of data that Facebook has on each of its 500 million users, either scenario is a little scary—and the way human resources departments react to people like Payne innocently living their personal lives is even scarier. Payne later found out that the complaint didn't come from a parent. It came from an anonymous email, meaning anybody could potentially send something about you to your boss that could get you fired.

Just think, in a tough economy, an unemployed Facebook "friend" who's in the same field as you could anonymously email a photo from your trip to California wine country to your boss in the hopes that you'll be fired—thus creating a job vacancy. Ex-boyfriends that you haven't yet defriended could exact their revenge by taking screen shots of every time you've typed "I don't feel like going to work" as your Facebook status.

Those may sound like far fetched scenarios, but ask Payne about privacy online—she's spent the past two years in a legal battle to get her job back and clear her name.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading