4 people totally busted for epic social media fails

Privacy news
7 mins
Crowd of people using tablets with their visages.

Admit it: you have done something stupid on your social media. Everyone has done something stupid on their social media. Most of the time no harm is done. You simply delete the offending post, comment, or picture of you playing Twister in a mankini the next morning.

It’s easy to forget that the whole world can potentially see your social media accounts, even if you set the profile to private (one of the entries in our list found this out – the hard way). It’s not a private chat between you and your friends. Chatting over the Internet is never private.

Most of the time the world isn’t watching you, it’s watching Netflix. But a few unlucky people managed to grab the world’s attention with a poorly chosen status update. And then everyone pointed at them and laughed. Or cried. Or ran away screaming.

We’ve compiled a list of four people who failed at keeping their social accounts private, then got busted. Unless you want to end up on our next list, it’s time to tighten your Internet privacy belt.

Jury Likes
Guilty, guilty, guilty… Oh look at the cat video!

#1 Facebook Poll Justice

It is everyone’s civic duty to be a juror, if required. A democracy demands that criminals be tried by a jury of their peers. It is an honor to serve such duty in a democratic country. And one must take the responsibility seriously. It’s also important to understand all the facts of the case, then deliberate them thoroughly and fairly. You don’t want to send an innocent person to prison, or let a guilty party walk free.

Or, you know, you could just start a Facebook poll. That’s exactly what happened in Burnley, UK. A jury member decided the best way to decide the fate of the person on trial was to put a few facts on Facebook, then have everyone vote.

UK law demands that no juror talk in public about the case over which they are presiding. So when the court was tipped off about the Facebook vote, the juror was promptly dismissed.

If you ever have jury duty, and you chose to put the decision of guilt in the hands of a Facebook poll, please make sure you never have jury duty.

sick day
Pro Tip: Texting in sick means you don’t have to use your unconvincing “ill voice”.

#2 Facebook Status Betrays Guy’s Health

We have heard there are terrible people on the Internet who will sometimes pretend to be ill, just to get a day off work. We find this behavior both shocking and appalling. Really, how could you?

*Cough. Cough.*

Anyway, it turns out employers look at Facebook too. So if you are the type of person who likes to enjoy the occasional sick day (without being sick), you should probably change your Facebook settings to private. And take a good hard look at yourself.

Kyle Doyle did not change his Facebook settings to private. Kyle Doyle took a sick day. Kyle Doyle got busted.

Here’s what happened, via a handy email transcript:

From: Niresh Regmi
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:35 a.m.
To: Kyle Doyle
Subject: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008
Hi Kyle,
Please provide a medical certificate stating a valid reason for your sick leave on Thursday 21st 2008.
Thank You
Real Time Manager, Workforce Operations

From: Kyle Doyle
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:38 a.m.
To: Niresh Regmi
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008
1 day leave absences do not require a medical certificate as stated in my contract, provided I have stated that I am on leave for medical reasons.
Kyle Doyle
Resolutions Expert – Technical

From: Niresh Regmi
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:39 a.m.
To: Kyle Doyle
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008
Hi Kyle,
Usually that is the case, as per your contract. However please note that leave during these occasions is only granted for genuine medical reasons. You line manager has determined that your leave was not due to medical reasons and as such we cannot grant leave on this occasion.

From: Kyle Doyle
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:43 a.m.
To: Niresh Regmi
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008
Hi Niresh,
My leave was due to medical reasons, so you cannot deny leave based on a line manager’s discretion, with no proof, please process leave as requested.
Kyle Doyle

From: Niresh Regmi
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:50 a.m.
To: Kyle Doyle
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008
Hi Kyle,
I believe the proof that you are after is below

kyle doyle facebook fail
Whoops – Kyle Doyle’s Facebook profile.

From: Kyle Doyle
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:55 a.m.
To: Niresh Regmi
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008
HAHAHA LMAO epic fail
No worries man
Kyle Doyle

#3 Teacher Fired For A Vacation Snap

You know what grown adults are perfectly entitled to drink? Alcohol. And sometimes, when grown adults are on vacation, they like to have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Probably because they are GROWN ADULTS. ON VACATION!

But consuming a beverage that is perfectly legal for adults to drink didn’t stop Apalachee High School in Georgia from firing a teacher who had a cold beer on holiday.

Teacher Fired For Facebook (1)
I feel faint. The horror of it!

That’s Ashley Payne, and she posted this picture to her Facebook page. Here she is, enjoying a couple of drinks while vacationing.

This is the picture that got her fired.

Had the principal seen her having a glass of wine in a local restaurant with her husband, would she still have been fired? Surely not. But putting it on Facebook apparently means you promote alcohol abuse. Yes, they accused Miss Payne of promoting alcohol abuse. Because of that picture right there.

Time to ramp up your Facebook settings, pronto. Or stop drinking. So, time to ramp up your Facebook settings, pronto.

Setting your Facebook details to private really is a must. So that’s exactly what Miss Payne did. Except that didn’t work. The photo of Miss Payne drinking a beer was set to private on Facebook. And yet, you can find it in absolutely every corner of the Internet. What’s the opposite of private? That picture.

So you probably shouldn’t rely solely on Facebook’s privacy settings to keep your posts and pictures private. You’d think that Facebook have many staff and interns who spend their time searching for flaws in the privacy settings. And once flaws are found, they are fixed with haste. No doubt the person who found the flaw gets a big bonus, too.

find on facebook
I can see dead people! No, wait, they’re just sleeping. This app lets me watch people while they sleep.

#4 Facebook Fires Intern who Found Flaw In Privacy Settings

When Aran Khanna took an internship at Facebook, he no doubt had high hopes of impressing Mark Zuckerburg enough to get offered a full time job. Khanna, a Harvard student, took it upon himself to show a bit of initiative and started a project to highlight some of Facebook’s privacy flaws.

Khanna created an app that exploited flaws in Facebook’s Mobile Messenger. The app was called Marauder’s Map and, much like its Harry Potter namesake, allowed people to pinpoint the exact location of Facebook users. It’s not hard to imagine the many ways this app could be used for evil. But Khanna claims he was providing a public service and had no malicious intent.

Facebook disagreed, and he was promptly fired.

How Not To Be An Online Privacy Loser

These people ended up on the wrong side of the Internet. The bad side that gets people into trouble. They all forgot rule one of the Internet:

Everything you put on the internet stays on the internet.

We’ve covered privacy tips before. Quite a few times. In fact, it’s kind of our thing. But the people in our list would definitely benefit from a few more tips.

  1. Don’t post sensitive data on the Internet. (credit card numbers, birth certificates, the details of someone else’s court case)
  2. Be careful what personal information you put on the Internet. (DOB, address, sobriety status)
  3. Take control of your own privacy. (don’t post what you don’t want the whole world to see – like vacation pics)
  4. Use ExpressVPN’s privacy-tastic Chrome Extension
  5. Don’t annoy Mark Zuckerburg. (ever)

Follow these four easy steps, and hopefully you won’t get busted by the Internet.

Johnny 5 is the founding editor of the blog and writes about pressing technology issues. From important cat privacy stories to governments and corporations that overstep their boundaries, Johnny covers it all.