School Sued For Reading Student's Private Facebook Messages
Mandi Jackson, a student at the school, says that a cheerleading coach, Tommie Hill, demanded that Jackson disclose her Facebook password.
Hill then allegedly logged in and retrieved private messages -- not posts on her public wall, but confidential communications -- between Jackson and another cheerleader, and shared those with school officials. Jackson alleges that the school "publicly reprimanded, punished and humiliated" her for the contents of those messages. Among other measures, the school allegedly didn't allow her to participate in some school-sponsored events.
Jackson is now suing the school in federal court in Mississippi for violating her privacy rights.
Assuming her allegations are true, it's astounding that school authorities and their agents could have thought they had the right to intercept private messages between students.
It's not clear why Jackson complied with the request that she reveal her password, but she's not alone in doing so. Even adults have been pressured into disclosing passwords to private accounts.
In Bozeman, Montana, applicants for city jobs apparently revealed their user names and passwords to social networking sites in response to questions from the city, until officials put an end to the practice last month.
And in Hackensack, N.J., an employee at a Houston's told a manager the password to a private MySpace group that had been created by other employees to complain about the restaurant's management. Houston's fired two workers, who then sued. Last month they won their case when a jury in Newark, N.J. decided that the restaurant violated federal and state privacy laws and awarded the former employees $17,000.