The Associated Press reports on a case in Indiana concerning social networking sites, privacy and schools. I’ve said it before: Users need to remember that once data is posted online, it is difficult to control who sees it and how the data is used (no matter what privacy settings are used). Rethink whether you should post that embarrassing photo or anecdote. I have written previously about how data from social-networking sites are being used against various current employees, applicants to jobs, applicants to colleges and graduate schools, and in criminal trials.
Two sophomore girls have sued their school district in northeast Indiana after they were punished for posting sexually suggestive photos on MySpace during their summer vacation.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, in a federal lawsuit filed last week on behalf of the girls, argues that Churubusco High School, northwest of Fort Wayne, violated their free speech rights when it banned them from extracurricular activities for a joke that didn’t involve the school. […]
The girls, identified by their initials in the suit, took the photos during a sleepover this summer with friends before school started and posted them on their MySpace pages, setting the privacy controls so only those designated as friends could view them. In the photos, the girls wore lingerie and pretended to lick a lollipop shaped like a male body part. None of the photos made any reference to the school.
[Erik Weber, an attorney for Smith-Green Schools,] declined to say how the photos reached Couch, but the suit contends that someone copied the pictures and shared them with school officials, and they eventually were given to the principal.