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Angry MobThe social media mob was out in force last week against a Greece teacher.

The American Sign Language teacher wrote words her students wanted to learn how to sign on her SMART Board. One of the students called out the word c–ks—er and the teacher wrote in on the board. Months after the incident, a parent posted a picture of it on her Facebook page.

A few days later, the teacher had resigned.

The parent was within her rights to post the picture. People were within their rights to comment and express their opinions. But I’m wondering if sometimes we let a social media frenzy dictate outcomes.

Maybe the teacher should have lost her job. There are things we likely don’t know. But I’m willing to bet she’d still be employed if the parent had privately approached school officials.

On Facebook and Twitter, people pick up their pitchforks and demand action. They want to KNOW SOMETHING WAS DONE. Did school officials react to the mob? Would they have taken the teacher complaint as seriously if it hadn’t gone viral and hit the news? Did social media perform a public service or commit a possible injustice?

We’ve see incidents go viral in Rochester before: the Greece bus monitor video, Craig Schaller’s LPGA blog, and the Muslim checkout line at Wegmans.

GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram wrote this about the woman fired from her job after a terrible tweet about AIDS and Africa:

With tools like Twitter and Facebook and the focus on real-time news, a single comment or bad joke or moment of poor decision-making can quickly escalate into an international incident. But is this kind of behavior a good thing? Is this how we encourage positive social values now? Or is it just a faster and more modern variation on the ugly mob?

At what point does the behavior of those responding to the offence become more offensive than the original comment, or at least out of proportion to it?

Is there a way to get the benefits of this kind of public shaming without it going overboard and becoming a mob with pitchforks? That’s hard to say. But we seem to be getting more and more chances to get the balance right, so perhaps we will figure it out eventually. I hope so.

I’m worried we no longer accept two words that used to symbolize an effort to learn, heal and show good faith: “I’m sorry.”

Links of the Day:


– Give the RCSD $325 million to rehab schools. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out a lot. In a report clearly showing the media was asleep at the switch for two years, the Democrat & Chronicle uses audits to expose overspending and mismanagement of the Facilities Modernization Plan. For example. principals were allowed to change work orders after projects went out to bid.

– Drop the kids off at school. Go fly a drone. Maybe pull the trigger. The Niagara Falls Air Base has a new, controversial focus.

– By cracking down on prescription pills, the government pushed people to heroin. It’s a big War on Drugs blunder.

– “Libraries have become bustling community centers where talking out loud and even eating are perfectly acceptable.” Libraries are more popular than ever.

Links of the Day:

Facebook image published in Times Union

– Why is it that everyone caught up in a scandal has a damning Facebook page?

The Buffalo area state trooper at the center of a prostitution investigation has a bunch of questionable photos of himself, reports the Albany Times Union:

(Titus) Taggart’s Facebook page depicts several photographs in which he is holding what appears to be bottles of alcohol. One photo depicts a sexually charged cartoon rendering of a woman holding a gun and wearing a police uniform augmented with lingerie. The depiction shows the woman standing in front of a heart that is adorned with yellow police tape and the words “busted.”

Taggart and two Rochester area troopers are suspended.

A Forbes columnist advises people to protect their pages before getting caught up in a scandal. Hey, you never know. Taggart’s page has been taken down, but not before the Times Union grabbed every photo.

Trust me, the privacy settings are not that hard!

– Kodak released its first-quarter earnings, which show a loss of $366 million. I hope to have more perspective later in the day. So far, analysts have some questions.

– Medley Centre must be “demalled.” The Democrat and Chronicle has a great update (or non-update) on what’s happening with the property. The developer’s plans are on the right track, but he doesn’t appear to have financing.

– Irondequoit police alerted the community to a man in a black van who approached a girl and offered her a ride. What a kidnapper stereotype! I often wonder if these reports are fabricated or exaggerated by children scared by years of stranger danger training.

Ever notice how these men who allegedly approach children almost never materialize? When was the last time a kid was snatched by a scary man in a van around here? (Never…) Kids are going to come in contact with adults and some of them are creeps. Just move on, like this girl did.

Update: Irondequoit police found the scary van driver! He’s not a would-be kidnapper, after all.

– The Democrat and Chronicle has a new food and drink section called Flavors and a business section called ROCNext.

People like food porn.

A city bar owner was tell me about a conversation he had with his friend, a fellow bar owner. They agreed business is down. The bar owner’s friend blamed social media. “Everyone is on Twitter and Facebook. They don’t have to come out to find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. They know everything already.”

I have certainly spent a few Friday nights home playing on Facebook and Twitter, but the reasons had more to do with being tired or broke than not wanting to see my friends in person. A good snowstorm will force a night of Words With Friends, too.

Social media tends to be a mechanism for people to make plans to go out, not the opposite.

I asked people on Twitter their thoughts.