Saint Theresa versus the Facebook bikini photos

So the quaint row over the St. Theresa’s College (STC) High School students’ “lewd” bikini photos exhibited on their Facebook profiles has been settled for now after a bid by the school to ban these students from attending their graduation rites was ToRpedOed by a Cebu court. Just another day in Christianabad, where instances like these where the right argument wins are extremely rare.

But the real moral of the story is really quite simple: update your privacy settings. The Philippines, after all, is Judgmentalism, Self-righteousness, and Intrigahan Central — a dangerous society to be living in in the age of easy Internet access to personal pimping technology. This is after all the 21st Century, where everyone is encouraged to behave like a “star” and there is an abundance of technology to back that encouragement. Never mind that STC all the while remained mounted on its archaic high horse of moral righteousness and that the underdogs in this drama prevailed with the help of a state institution ruling in the ironic spirit of the modern secularism our society aspires to. The fact is, “social media” technology makes young reputations a lot more vulnerable today.

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The fact that the issue around whether or not employers are well within their rights to compel employees to provide them access to their Facebook accounts — even turn over their Facebook passwords — is even being debated in the United States highlights a more important point. That Facebook management itself felt compelled to respond to that threat on behalf of its users drove that very point through. We are seeing a race between both sides in this debate — those who seek to justify breaching personal privacy for the sake of whatever “greater good” they hold to be evident and those who seek to protect the privacy of information that, by its very nature, deliberately flirts with unintended exposure — to build the philosophical and legal infrastructure to buttress their positions. In short, the battle between the intrigeros and those with more interesting lives who mind their own businesses will surely become more complicated — most likely reaching a point where lawyers will become more and more involved.

But then step back from all that and consider how big the stakes really are. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter had already won that battle. They have succeeded at making us willing and avid content providers to their vast media, marketing intelligence, and social research enterprises. We supply these folk with valuable data that makes them better and faster at mining the human condition for insights on how better to sell stuff and secure their clients’ businesses.

The question therefore is:

Is Facebook’s and Twitter’s concept of the “greater good” really fundamentally different from that of STC — or those US employers trying to force their employees to cough up their Facebook passwords?

In both cases, there are interests to be protected and agendas to be furthered. And the data we upload to these sites is the fuel for these efforts — which means that ultimately it is really up to us.

15 Replies to “Saint Theresa versus the Facebook bikini photos”

  1. They set the privacy daw >> “The students said the privacy settings of their Facebook accounts meant that only their friends and families had access to the photos.
    “The school and its officials are not listed as our friends, and they have no authority to intrude, poke into, extract, and use for their own purpose and benefit any information posted at our FB account,” they said.”

    1. I saw the picture; if I was one of those girls’ parents there’d be hell to pay for her putting it online in the first place. The school still shouldn’t be snooping — however that was possible — but obviously there’s been a dearth of guidance for a particular group of youngsters in this case as to what constitutes common sense and good taste in online behavior. And that part’s not the school’s job.

      1. That reminds me of a piece Andy Rooney did when he was on CBS’s 60 Minutes. He blamed the U.S.’s decline in educational performance on “dumb parents”. He got a few complaints, but he was right on the money.

      2. The school officials say the photos were brought to their attention by fellow students who found the photos ‘disturbing’.

    2. based on the article, I think everyone had an error, for the part of the school, they had error for saying all those damaging words to the girls, like instead of the boys who are supposed to take advantage of them (and by take advantage, I think what they meant by that was the boys who could have seen those pictures might only treat the girl right only because of her looks), it was the officials of the school who were acting that way because of the words they said…and in the part of the student, she also made an error for disobeying the rules of the school and possibly for not being really vigilant with her Facebook account.

      Sad to say, some men only like a girl because of their looks and maybe that’s why the school went protective for their students but the way they reprimanded the girl and the choice of words they used to reprimand that girl for what she has done was wrong. It’s like they’re calling the girl a slut just because of the picture. Photographs alone can’t establish your identity completely, people need to see you in person first for them to give a proper judgement for you.

      Sad to say, intriga easily sparks in our country, once someone messes up, it becomes the talk of the century or something.

      Lesson learned: Be vigilant of your Facebook account (that also means being careful of what you post there) and remember to use the right choice of words especially when you reprimand someone, huwag na lang salita ng salita without thinking ahead if the words your about to use are appropriate for the situation or not.

  2. It seems to me that perhaps students in the Philippines are starting to come alive and address some of the social issues where the Philippines lags. I find interesting the tussle between Senator Santiago and university students as to whether or not students should be “allowed” to survey their student populations without the good senator badgering and condemning therm. (Thanks

  3. I suddenly remember this script from the movie, 21 Jump Street, in which Ice Cube was showing this YouTube video to Jonah and Channing about this HS student doing crazy things after swallowing a new drug and then dying afterwards…Channing ask why would the student put this on YouTube, to which Ice Cube replied…”they’re teenagers, they do not think.” That basically summarizes it all up.

  4. Dear BenignO

    “But the real moral of the story is really quite simple: update your privacy settings.”

    I disagree with your statement. a) There is a seperation (line of demarcation) what we do in our personal/private lives and what we do during office hours/school hours. What I do in my private life is none of the business of the school, you or anybody. When we have a job we are expected to start in time and do our thing. When we are pupils/students in class or at the school yard we have to comply to the rrules and regulations of the school. But outside all of those we can do what we want (within the settings of the goernmental laws). Otherwise we live in a police state (“big brother is watching you”).

    I will never adjust my private life in order to please others or to comply to institutes that have no claim of me during hours outside school and/or work.

    Recommended movies:
    * The Pelican Brief
    * Enemy of the state

  5. It’s useless to update privacy settings when friends can easily repost what you have posted. At the end of the day, lots of teens will rue the day they posted their nonsense on FB. What will save them is the fact that all their peers will have done the same.

  6. Benigs, very good example that the school set by defying the TRO, is it not?

    Are they taking their cue from De Lima and Co., or are they going to come out and say that the TRO means nothing to them because “the law of God is above the law of man” BS?

    Either way, they’ve got egg on their faces.

  7. I can imagine the theocrats of the Philippines…


    Personally, the students saw nothing wrong with thier actions, which were basically in good faith…unless they deliberately did it to spite STC, in which an investigation should be in order.

  8. STC is definitely more interested in preserving its dignity rather then actually help that child. Kids do stupid stuff, big deal, we all make mistakes, they should follow the example of Christ and be more compassionate.

  9. Just Like a Twinkling Star
    (Tribute to Mother Teresa)

    By Apolinario B Villalobos

    Just like a tranquil smoothly flowing stream
    that ripples at the gentle touch of a falling leaf
    and nudge of a rock down its path; your silence so
    unpredictable and fragile like a thin sheet of ice
    cracks even at the feather’s touch.

    But just like a twinkling star
    your light constantly guides those wayward souls
    that roam the earth, those who need a helping hand
    to be there – a place they have been longing for
    but just hindered by unseen hands.

    Here you are
    untiringly and unselfishly extending a hand
    so that those who have fallen
    may again stand.

    (Manila, Philippines)

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