The digital age is facing its first existential crisis, reports the New York Times: the impossibility of erasing your posted past and moving on. Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption “Drunken Pirate.” After discovering the page, her supervisor at the high school told her the photo was “unprofessional,” and the dean of Millersville University School of Education, where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her underage students. As a result, days before Snyder’s scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee whose photo didn’t relate to matters of public concern, her “Drunken Pirate” post was not protected speech. When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder might well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the internet records everything and forgets nothing—where every online photo, status update, Twitter post, and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever…

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About the Author:

Denny Carter

Dennis has covered higher education technology since April 2008, having interviewed some of the most recognized IT pros in U.S. colleges and universities. He is always updating eCampus News with the latest in pressing ed-tech issues, such as the growing i


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