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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do schools have the right to check their pupils' Facebook profiles?

Big consternation here in Belgium because a school in Aalst (a town in the province of East Flanders) has looked into the information on their students Facebook pages, and found two of them propaganding IS. Consequently, they gave the names and addresses of these two students to the police.

Not long after, a storm of protest arose. Lots of people claiming schools don't have the right to see what's on the Facebook pages. Goes against the laws of privacy, they say.

What do you think? If you are a teacher, and you find information that gives cause to concern on a (public) Facebook page of one of your pupils, isn't it your duty to report this? Or would you just pretend you hadn't seen it, and let this student go on telling the world he or she adores what IS does? Telling others they should do the same? Even join IS?

I think we teachers have a duty to protect our pupils - even against themselves. You want what is best for children (or what is considered best). I'd report abuse by parents if I knew about it. I'd do the same if one of my students is a radical and out on hurting people. Whether this is by him or her spouting racist talk in the classroom or doing it on Facebook.

It's a new medium but it can be dangerous. I always warn my students about what they put on Facebook. I knew a lot of bosses check out profiles of aspirant workers. So if you put on Facebook you hate working, there's a chance people will believe you and you won't get a job! The same goes for claiming you are going to fight in Syria. You can say it in jest, but there is an even bigger chance they'll believe you!

What do you think?

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