The perils of posting on Facebook

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN
Posted Feb. 17, 2012, at 4:46 p.m.

Keep your clothes on and keep pictures of your big ol’ fish to yourself.

So might be the advice this week from a former successful high school football coach and an alleged salmon poacher who both chose to share something they perhaps shouldn’t have with all their Facebook friends.

Apparently both men had a little something they were proud of and thought it a good idea to share some pictures of their “trophies.”

For Paul Withee, it didn’t work out so well.

Withee was the football coach at Foxcroft Academy for 19 years and led the team to three state championships. Last March he was hired to coach the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School football team.

He resigned last week after a parent at the school spotted a naked picture of the coach on Facebook.

Withee said the picture was meant to be shared with just one particular friend, but he accidentally posted it to his more public Facebook wall.

There’s a part of me that wants to feel sorry for this guy, who did have the guts to tell one reporter, “I’m embarrassed, I’m ashamed and I’m humiliated.”

But what the heck was he thinking?

And speaking of men and egos and pride, there also was the story of the brilliant and boastful ice fisherman who apparently posted a picture of his more than 25-inch-long salmon allegedly poached from Second Hadley Lake in Washington County within the past few weeks.

Under state and federal regulations the fish is too big to keep, and now the Maine Warden Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating.

The fisherman might not attract the same kind of media attention — Boston.com, New York Daily News and Huffington Post them — that Withee did because keeping an oversize fish is probably not as compelling as a middle school teacher posting nude pictures online, but still it was clearly an unwise Facebook move.

Social media are a new and dangerous world, especially to us middle-age folks who remember a time when our personal conversations were over landlines and there was no hard evidence of it to be plunked down upon our boss’s desk in the morning — or the counter of our local law enforcement agency — or perhaps the desk of our spouse’s divorce attorney.

Divorce lawyers are reporting a huge surge in the number of divorce cases involving social media as either a component in the breakdown of the marriage or as a way in which the couple gather evidence against one another.

According to an article written by Richard Adams and published in The Guardian, some American lawyers are demanding to see their clients’ Facebook pages as a matter of course before starting divorce proceedings.

Another article stated that 8 percent of American companies reported firing an employee because of something that was posted on a social networking site.

Remember the term “drunk dialing”?

Today it’s all about drunk Facebooking and emailing, and it’s much more dangerous.

A couple of years ago there was some buzz about the development of software that users could install on their personal computers or handheld devices to help save them from themselves.

Sort of a voluntary online sobriety test that could be set to come on during the hours the user might be under the influence. If the user tries to send an email or post a message during those hours, a test such as typing the alphabet backwards must be passed to gain access.

It certainly wouldn’t save everyone from himself.

Pride and ego and stupidity don’t always need to be fueled by liquor.

They can make a mess of things by themselves and today if your fish is too big or your pants come off under the wrong circumstances — there is likely to be proof.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/17/living/blogs-and-columns-living/the-perils-of-posting-on-facebook/ printed on September 21, 2014