Sunday, October 24, 2010

Strange that when they are the target, teachers sound remarkably like their students. I also hear, “Yes we know it's a public forum, but we still want privacy”

Manatee teachers union fights website rules

October 24, 2010 by Dissent

I tend to think that having clearly stated employee policies concerning social media use is a good thing. But can such policies go too far and step on privacy or free speech rights? A teachers’ association in Florida is claiming that that’s one such policy does. Christopher O’Donnell reports:

A local teachers union is taking on the Manatee School District over its plan to restrict how teachers use the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook in their personal time.

Manatee Education Association leaders this week filed a complaint with the state asking it to rule against the proposed policy.

They are also threatening to sue the district in civil court if the policy is enacted, arguing that the rules violate a teacher’s right to privacy and free speech.

The proposed policy prohibits teachers from communicating with students through sites like Facebook or with personal e-mail without parental permission, and from using the school district’s name in online forums.

Union leaders object to a section that prohibits teachers from posting pictures or comments that cast the district, teachers or students in a negative light even if done on their own computer in their own time.

Read more in the Herald Tribune.

[From the article:

The new policy comes in the wake of a pair of cases in which teachers got in trouble for their use of the Internet.

Earlier this year, a teacher received a five-day unpaid suspension for posting on Facebook that he hated his job and hated the students he taught.

On Monday, the School Board is scheduled to vote on whether to move forward with firing Braden River High School teacher Charles Willis for inappropriate communication with more than 100 students on Facebook.

Technology provides the means... “We can, therefore we must”

The Real Privacy Scandal On Social Networks: The Feds Are Spying On Their “Friends”

All the hoopla over the Wall Street Journal’s so-called Facebook “privacy breach” article, it’s subsequent and curiously-timed MySpace followup, and also the New York Times’ take on the ability of Facebook advertisers to target ads for nursing schools to gay men is unwittingly creating cover for a social networking privacy issue that’s much bigger. It might be surprising to some, but it turns out that U.S. federal agents have been urged to “friend” people in order to spy on them.

The feds operate such social sting operations aided by the fact that there are very few individuals that actually know every single person in their “friend” list on Facebook. For instance, it is typical to connect to someone because one thinks they might have met them. Or, a connection might take place because two people share common interests and want to view each other’s news posts going forward. But that’s not how the government sees it.

In a memo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) discovered that the Feds see Facebook as a psychological crutch for the needy. Here’s a direct quote from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) memo: “Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know.” And it gets worse.

The memo explains that these “tendencies” provide “an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.” Translation: spy on unsuspecting people on Facebook and MySpace in order to catch the bad guys.

Such tactics are decidedly creepy (how many completely innocent people are they spying on), but the argument could be made that if you have nothing to hide, then why worry? Here’s why: many people post items to their profiles that they forget to update or that are not necessarily true, and which they certainly wouldn’t be saying if they knew they were under investigation. Indeed, a recent study initiated by UK insurance company Direct Line concluded that “people are more likely to be dishonest when chatting using technology, such as Twitter, than they would be face to face.”

(Related) Just because a particular technology isn't part of your IT plan (or budget) does not stop Senior Managers (or Officials) from using it.

Friends, Followers, and Feeds: A National Survey of Social Media Use in State Government

The survey examined adoption trends, current applications and expectations of social media technologies, the extent to which implementation is governed by formal policies or individual agency initiative, and perceptions of risk associated with social media tool use.

[From the report:

Just as in that earlier time when many state IT departments suddenly found they had rogue servers put up by agencies independent of any oversight or standards, state CIOs may recently have found themselves unblocking YouTube to allow greetings from public officials or Flickr to mount photos of a bridge opening or to document some other important announcement. CIOs may not have been immediately convinced of the business value of these tools as they entered the workplace, but the fact is that this is how effective governments are communicating now, and this is not just a fad.

… The results of the social media survey reflect the following key points:

social media adoption rates are broad across state governments, whether controlled by CIO offices or not

two-thirds of survey respondents lack enterprise policies addressing social media

one-third of the states responding do have enterprise policy frameworks, guidance, and standards, and a sizable number of states are in the process of developing these – models do exist

business drivers have most commonly been communications, citizen engagement, and outreach, along with low-cost of entry – 98% of use is of free social media tools

social media pose challenges to states in the areas of


legal issues associated with terms of service


records management

acceptable use

The views of a lawyer on the inside...

Harvey Levin on media and privacy

October 23, 2010 by Dissent

I’ve occasionally blogged about celebrities, the media, and right to privacy. I came across an interesting talk that Harvey Levin of TMZ gave to students at the University of Chicago Law School this week on media and privacy. It’s a very human talk that deals with ethics of the media, the “yuck factor,” “zones of privacy,” and includes a number of cases the show’s been involved in and how they made particular decisions about what to reveal or not to reveal. He also talks about how in one case, a sheriff got warrants to search his cell phones after they revealed a report on Mel Gibson and how chilling that can be for journalists.

I’m not a regular viewer of TMZ at all, but found the talk both entertaining and also thought-provoking. See what you think:

[Or watch on YouTube:!

So Saddam wasn't lying, just exaggerating?

WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq – With Surprising Results

By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But for years afterward, WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins, and uncover weapons of mass destruction.

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

Eventually, an online “Library of the Internet?” - A Quick Way To Find eBooks

Neotake is a search engine for eBooks. The site will let you look up books in any language, and in formats as different as PDF, Mobipocket, ePUB and Kindle. And once you have found what you are looking for, you will be able to get it right away.

One of the most solid aspects of the site is that users are not anonymous. Far from it - they make up a true community. Each user has got his own profile, complete with his own avatar. They can see what each other has searched, and they can even begin following each other and be notified about the latest activity of those who are always finding good (and unusual) titles.

In any case, the site includes a series of “Top 100 eBooks” that will let you know what has been in more demand in the last week, the last month and even the day before. Not knowing what to download is a situation you are not facing if you use this site, and that’s a fact.

Collaboration tools

Live-Documents: Free Office Suite Online

Live Documents is a free office suite online that provides online document editing collaboration features. After you have created an account on the site you can start creating presentations, spreadsheets, and text documents.

The interface for each type of document all loads up within the web browser. You will find that the most commonly used and most popular features are available in all the interfaces. The text document interface, for instance, includes languages, different fonts, formats and styles, text alignment, and paragraph properties. When you are done with your document you can save it and share it using the buttons located in the top right.

Sharing is possible either with specific Live Documents members or with everyone on the web by sharing the document’s URL. You can specify whether others will be able to edit the document or only view it.

Users of Live Documents get 100 MB of storage space and access to their documents in a wonderfully organized web interface that resembles an operating system.

Related articles:

6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft

Top 3 FREE web-based Office Suites (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)

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