General blogging Internet and technology Stupid things

Fired for holding a glass of beer on Facebook! – REALLY?

Ashley Payne, 24 years old, as seen on her Facebook album – Photo taken from

Wow. Just WOW! This is exactly the kind of thing that really upsets me. The fact that some people understand so wrong the idea of the distinction between public and private life.

According to in a video report, a 24-year-old public high school teacher in the US has been offered to either resign or be suspended from her job because of one picture she had on Facebook in a trip to Europe.

In her PRIVATE photo album she can be seen visiting some Italian and Spanish bars and, in some of the pictures, she is holding either a beer or a glass of wine. As Ms. Payne herself commented, she just did what any normal adult would do on a vacation trip to Europe.

But one parent didn’t seem to think the same. He somehow managed to see the picture and proceeded to call the high school’s director to complain about it. This led to the accusation against Ashley Payne, who decided to resign.

Have we gone mad?

These are not pictures of a teacher drunk in the middle of the street we are talking about. They are pictures about the normal, private life anyone has.

I can understand that she, as a high school teacher, has certain responsibilities towards the students she educates. But it’s not like she has been publicly posting the photos in the school’s halls or anything. It’s her private Facebook profile, in which she has none of the high school students as a friend, and therefore, they can’t see her pictures at all.

Why, then, is this happening?

It’s not the first time something like this has happened either. I have already heard way too many scared comments from US friends saying that they do not want any pictures of them with a beer close by because it will lower their chances of getting a job, that many companies look at their prospective employees’ Facebook pages before hiring.

Really? Well, yes, it happens. But it makes me think why an employer might be so interested in these things. Are they looking to hire an employee who never drinks? It’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to hire a person who is always partying out and appears to end up in a bad state every time. But getting to such extremes as to decline someone because they have a social life is plain crazy.

And it really worries me that this is happening way too often in the USA. In fact, I really believe that the North-American society should learn a little bit of common sense from the European.

I’ll put myself as an example: I have pictures in parties in Spain, the US and Denmark all alike. In some of the pictures I can be seen holding a drink. Now though, those pictures are not available to everyone, but only to the people I have explicitly allowed to. In any case I am quite public about my personal activities (even though I respect other people’s privacy wishes) and I do not mind if, for example, a teacher of mine sees a picture of me at a party.

Because after all, should a teacher be concerned that a student of his is drinking? If the student is underage of course it should concern the teacher. But otherwise it shouldn’t be as long as the student keeps passing his exams and turning in the homework. The same goes for jobs: if the employee is doing his tasks, what does an employer have to say in the matter of him going out at night?

If you want to hear more on this topic I suggest you watch the following video from in which, besides telling the story of Ashley Payne, also offers some interesting comments about online privacy.