my coworker is a dominatrix — and it’s fairly public on Facebook

A reader writes:

I currently work in a public elementary school. I’m sure you are familiar with the way educators view Facebook profiles: the less info shared, the better. I have a question concerning a former coworker who now works at another school in the district.

Today another coworker and I were discussing people who share too much of their personal life with their coworkers, and she said something along the lines of “oh, well Ms. ______ had an alternative lifestyle but she never let it affect her work.” This piqued my interest and I went on Facebook to investigate this claim. I’m not her friend, but I was able to search for her and find her profile very easily. I assumed that she might be a lesbian (I live in the deep South–homosexuality is indeed considered an “alternative lifestyle” here) but what I found is that she is actually a dominatrix in her spare time. While she hasn’t made any posts herself, she is publicly tagged in several posts by a man who proudly proclaims himself to be “Mistress ____’s slave” at least twice. Upon viewing HIS Facebook page, I can see dozens of other posts that refer to her by name but don’t tag her actual profile.

What am I supposed to do with this knowledge? The man’s posts are some of the most graphic things I’ve ever read. Bondage, weird fetishes, discussions of bodily fluids…all visible to the public. I almost feel like I need to make a burner email account and email her to say “hey girl, might want to check your privacy settings on Facebook,” but I’m not sure if that’s my place to do anything. I am pretty sure she could get in major trouble if the wrong person found it.

Well, you don’t have to do anything with the knowledge. In fact, I’d say that your default should be to wipe it out of your mind and pretend you don’t know it unless there’s compelling reason not to.

If she were a friend, you could (and probably should) give her a heads-up that you were able to easily come across this stuff.

But this isn’t someone you know, and she presumably doesn’t live under a rock; she knows that Facebook’s privacy settings are a thing.

At most, I suppose that you could send her a message saying something like, “Hey, I came across this and didn’t know if you realized this stuff is publicly viewable and thought I’d let you know in case you didn’t mean it to be, in light of our how our field can be about people having personal lives. If it’s not a concern for you, please ignore me and carry on!” But again, she’s got to know that Facebook isn’t the most private of places, and this message might be odd coming from someone who doesn’t know her well.

Whatever you do, though, I definitely wouldn’t send her an anonymous message, since that’s a higher level of covert action than is really required (and in general, anonymous messages are unkind; they rattle people and leave them having to suspect everyone they know of being the sender).

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarahnova

    I know a lot of people disagree, but I am a serious non-fan of anonymous messages under any circumstances. I think if you are choosing to involve yourself in a situation you could readily stay out of, you should have the courage to do it as yourself. You’ll have a lot more credibility that way in any case.

    My one exception would be where you need to raise, say, a serious risk or business issue and you are vulnerable to retaliation by someone in a position of power. But what would be the point of the OP remaining anon in this scenario?

    1. some1

      “But what would be the point of the OP remaining anon in this scenario?”

      Yeah, I think it’s kind of concern-trolling to go about it this way. “I just wanted to let you know this probably a bad idea, but I don’t want to deal with you being able to respond to my warning to me in any way.” Not really cool.

    2. Nicola

      A friend of mine and I wanted to play pool and so we decided to go to our favorite little club since it has pool tables… only we picked “Fetish Night” to go. We didn’t know this. I was traumatized to see one of my managers in dominatrix gear. It was TMI to the max. I couldn’t look at my manager the same way. I couldn’t even give him eye contact.

      1. Anna

        That’s too bad, since it had nothing to do with your job. I admit I don’t want to know ANYTHING about the possibly alternative things people I work with get up to, but I would make an effort to not care if I find out through random coincidence.

  2. Kasia

    Unless this person is anything more than a former coworker to the OP, I would say leave it alone. If she truly doesn’t know this is showing up on her profile it’s her own fault. Teachers have been fired for a lot less on Facebook

    1. MashaKasha

      There’s absolutely nothing she can do about this, though: “Upon viewing HIS Facebook page, I can see dozens of other posts that refer to her by name but don’t tag her actual profile.”

      1. MK

        Well, she could ask him to take everything down and he might comply. It’s possible she isn’t aware of this (some people really are blind to the fact that the internet is a public place) and it’s possible he is just being thoughtless about it.

                1. MashaKasha

                  I love this whole subthread so much, I want to marry it and have kids together and die on the same day in a nursing home. :)

              1. GOG11

                As I understand it, a sadist in the S&M sense is someone who derives pleasure/enjoyment from inflicting pain (just as a masochist derives pleasure from receiving pain). I’m not sure what “kind” means in this sense, so maybe I’m misinterpreting your question, but a sadist punishing a masochist wouldn’t necessarily be unkind – if that punishment is inflicting pain, it may be pleasant to the recipient and, therefore, not unkind.

                Regardless of what particular/specific activity a masochist is into, consent still governs an S&M relationship, so what is done would be done with consent, or it wouldn’t really be S&M (kind of like how non-consensual sex is rape).

                Also, a sadist isn’t necessarily a dominant person (the D in DS of BDSM). Dominance and submission are about power/control and, while those things can certainly overlap with other aspects of BDSM, the giving or receiving of pain isn’t a factor in the dynamics of some dominant/submissive interactions or relationships.

                I hope this helps and apologies in advance if I misinterpreted what you were asking.

        1. Blue Anne

          It’s amazing to me how common this is even in the kink scene.

          An angry, drunk woman once threw a bottle at my face in a dungeon. (Non-consensual violence! It was very unusual.) It was an invite-only event, most of the people in the room knew who the woman was and were VERY angry at her, I had lots of help with getting an ambulance, statements being given to police, etc. My husband and I got in free for the next year.

          But the thing that amazed me was, she went home and posted “Now everyone knows my bite is worse than my bark!” on her Fetlife profile. And her husband defended her in conversations about the altercation on the site’s boards. It’s so public. So, so public. If you know how, you can search Fetlife without even a login. And everyone knew who both of them were. We took screenshots and gave them to the police. For some reason, her profile was deleted the day after she was arrested.

          It blows my mind, really.

      2. Kasia

        True, but the OP wouldn’t have immediately found his page if the tags weren’t there- which is something she can block in her privacy settings for non-friends.

        Of course with enough digging, anything can be found on social media but you can make it as hard as possible.

        1. snuck

          That’s what I was coming here to say.

          Or she could have a public FB and a private one, and if she changes the name of her current one to her private one (and fixes that privacy setting) then she shouldn’t be searchable as easily…

          And having a more public one (you don’t have to post posts, you just need to make it identifiable as yours and lock it down secure) will satisfy the average nosy body.

          (And I agree with the other posters – don’t say anything on the internet you can’t say in front of your grandma – if this ‘needs to be said’ own up to it and put your name to it, or stay out of it, if you feel you can’t put your name on it then don’t say it.)

      3. Karowen

        There are settings where you can prevent people from tagging you, or make it so that it only shows on your page if you approve, and the OP only got to HIS page because he had tagged her and it showed on her page. Sure it’s still visible, but making it harder to find is the point.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          For those of you who care, you can go to your Timeline (click on your name and the tiny profile pic in the top blue toolbar), then, you should see buttons at the bottom of your Cover Photo labeled “Update Info”, “View Activity Log, and then just three dots. Click on the dots and choose “Timeline Settings”. You can lock down a lot of what others can display of you from there, although it’s not foolproof.

    2. Mike C.

      If she truly doesn’t know this is showing up on her profile it’s her own fault

      This is a really terrible attitude. Privacy rules change. When you’re talking about issues regarding the tagging of others, things get really complicated. You act like she designed the site herself.

      1. Not me

        +1, especially with FB. Got outed (as LGBT, not anything related to this letter!) by a privacy setting update, actually. That website’s a mess and shit happens.

      2. Kasia

        Sorry, let me rephrase.

        There have been a lot of news stories about teachers being fired for ridiculous things (like a picture of them with a drink in their hand, etc). So being a teacher, she should be very careful about what is going on her page (I definitely don’t agree with this, I think what you do in your own time is your business). There are things she can do to make it harder to find her (using a middle name as a last name is pretty popular) or she can log out of facebook and look for her page to see what can be see as someone who is not her friend. Just saying she should be more conscious of what her Facebook looks like especially considering her two lines of business.

        1. Mike C.

          No, people need to calm the heck down and realize that teachers are people too and stop holding them to insane standards that no one else is held to.

          1. Tamsin

            It’s doubly ridiculous that just being lesbian is considered an alternative lifestyle, according to the OP. (I lived in the deep South and that’s really not the case. I think it’s more a reflection of the OP’s perspective, which is already quite unusually curious about this woman.)

            1. Business Cat

              I mean, honestly it is still very much considered an alternative lifestyle in many places down here, including the the moderately well-known southern college town where I currently reside. A lot of attitudes here are unfortunately still stuck in a very narrow way of thinking about romantic partnerships and I don’t think the OP is being overdramatic in saying so.

            2. MegEB

              I really, really don’t think that’s fair to the OP. I know several people who consider homosexuality/bisexuality to be a “lifestyle” and I live in New England, in a city that’s considered fairly progressive. I’m also currently dating someone who lives in a Southern state and have heard some pretty backwards-thinking statements on sexuality (not from him, but from other people he knows), so I highly doubt this is just a matter of the OP projecting their own views onto the situation. I know the American South gets a bad rap sometimes and it’s not always fair, but the OP knows her environment better than we do and if she says that people can be bigots, I don’t see any reason to not believe her.

              1. Business Cat

                +100000 In addition, OP comments further down that she’s not hetero herself so she didn’t mean the comment with any malice.

              2. Kat M2

                I myself identify as bisexual and, even living in a liberal area, it’s incredibly misunderstood. Even before the OP chimed in, I wouldn’t think anything of what she said.

                1. Anna

                  Side note: I just saw something from Tumblr that some asshat posted about kicking bisexual people out of LGBTQ because they’re blah blah blah the person posting it is an asshole. I’m just coming to terms with my identity as bisexual, so I get really annoyed and upset about the whole thing.

                  Back to the subject at hand.

                2. jamlady

                  I told my dad I was bi and he said: “does your husband know?! Well you married a man so you’re not really then” – he’s pretty progressive and I grew up in LA so I know what you mean lol

            3. Kelly L.

              I don’t think the OP thinks of it as a lifestyle, I think she thought that was what the other person meant, since it’s an attitude she’s encountered before. “Alternative lifestyle” is used as code for gay in some circles despite its inaccuracy.

            4. Dovahkiin

              I thought it was kinda gross that the OP’s curiosity was piqued enough at the possibility that a person working in another district (not even known to the OP) was maybe a lesbian that she CSI’d their Facebook.

              Like…why? To see how she presents? See if she’s single? Wuuuuuut?

              I swear we just look like people. *Hides unicorn horn under hat*

        2. Stranger than fiction

          I’m just thinking of her students and their parents since they too can easily find this. This is a newscast waiting to happen.

      3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        +1

        There have been a few times I have learned about privacy settings changes from reading the news or Sophos. It is *very* rare for FB to notify users of a change.

        A polite heads up would be a kindness.

      4. BRR

        It’s sort of like having toilet paper on your shoe, it’s a nice thing to let somebody know. If the LW doesn’t know the person, perhaps they know a friend of the person. It would be BS for the teacher to lose their job because of something in their private life that I’m assuming isn’t affecting their job.

      5. Michael

        I’m torn on the issue of Facebook privacy settings, because they are complicated and they do get changed without notice.

        But on the other hand, I have to wonder what your expectations are when you post something on Facebook. It’s *meant* to publish things to be read by someone. It’s *not* your private diary. It’s a medium owned by some company that you don’t control, and you waive your rights and take risks when you give them photos and information.

        1. Bostonian

          The thing is, it sounds like she didn’t post these things – someone else posted them and tagged her. That would make me much more inclined to give her a heads up, because she may not even know this stuff is out there and associated with her name.

          1. Michael

            Yeah you’re right, in this context the content is coming from others and that’s a different story where you’re less in control.

          2. Letter Writer

            Yep–this is exactly what I meant. I know it’s not my business, but you’re right–it’s a newscast waiting to happen.

          3. snuck

            Except that Zuckerberg is on very public record stating that he intends to disseminate and share your information as far and as wide as he can, and that from the very early embryo stages FB was intended as a information gathering and sharing platform, using social media as a way to encourage that.

            He pulls no punches that this is his goal. And it shows in all the tweaks and changes FB makes – people scream about privacy issues, but they don’t listen – this company has NO INTENTION of ever making privacy a priority, it isn’t in their business model to do so.

            (And if you look at the human behaviour psychology behind this too it’s not in their interests to make it all lockable, they want users with multiple accounts, high risk activities driving voyeurism and fear of missing out etc to keep people engaged and talking and using and sharing.)

          4. Ellie H.

            Your Facebook timeline looks different to you than to other people. Additionally, some “actions” that you remove from your timeline (like adding a photo, and then removing it from your timeline) still show up in other people’s news feeds. So it’s possible to think some tag is not visible on your timeline, when in fact it showed up in someone else’s news feed.

      6. KMS1025

        Totally agree with you….maybe she doesn’t even know this guy…or he’s a bitter ex concocting a very public pack of lies…it really should be brought to her attention in the kindest way possible.

    3. Anna

      Which is shitty and isn’t actually an endorsement for not saying anything at all. It’s interesting how we’re so worried about what teachers might get up to on their off hours while the people they spend the most time with (parents) get to point fingers and hide their own behaviors.

  3. Not me

    Well, she should know her privacy settings aren’t doing what she probably thinks they’re doing.

    No idea how I would handle this except for what Alison has said, though. Godspeed.

    1. 2 Cents

      But she might not know that Facebook has face recognition software that will tag you in pictures you didn’t know existed. And I work with Facebook on a daily basis for my job, and I have trouble figuring out Facebook privacy settings, policies, etc. sometimes. Transparency is not one of their strong suits. Yes, you can “view your profile as public” or something, but photos and posts other people tag you in or other people post, you have very little control over.

      1. Hummingbird

        There is a feature you can put in your privacy settings that you have to approve all tagged photos before your name is attached to them on anyone’s profile (that links it back to you).

        But in reality, it is amazing how many people don’t know their privacy settings. One person I know thinks everything she posts is set to friends only but actually set to public. Every post a person makes has a privacy setting icon to tell them how private it is.

  4. Former Diet Coke Addict

    Well, if other people are talking about this dominatrix on their personal FB pages, with or without tagging her…that’s really out of her control and I don’t believe her personal profile security settings would have anything to do with it. Her own page, yes, but there’s nothing to stop John Doe from posting something every day saying “Mistress Sara is the best!”or whatever.

    But yeah, anonymous is never the way to go there.

    1. Kasia

      Facebook has changed their privacy settings a lot recently so I could be wrong but I believe you can set it so posts you’re tagged in can only be seen by friends (or no one, etc).

      Last I time I updated mine, people who were not my friend could only see my profile picture and very basic information like the town I live. Nothing else

      1. BuildMeUp

        Yes, I have mine set so if someone tags me, it doesn’t show up on my Timeline/profile unless I approve it! You get a notification that you’ve been tagged and can add it to your Timeline or hide it.

        1. Sunshine

          I wish everyone would do this. Not on does it annoy me to see updatea and pictures of people I don’t know (because my friend commented or was tagged)… but all too often it’s pictures of their kids. As a mom, it freaks me the hell out to think of a stranger looking at photos of my children. And there’s really no way to stop it, except to just not post them. The privacy of your own page is very much dependent on the settings of all your friends. Scary.

          1. Ezri

            My MIL posts pictures of our nephew constantly, and when he was very young she posted pictures of him where he was not completely clothed. That really bothered me, because those pictures are acceptable for family but on the internet they can really fall into the wrong hands. Not to mention this poor kid is going to grow up and realize his entire baby photo album has been public on the internet for decades.

            Then she posted a picture of husband’s business cards, even though husband explicitly told her not to. They had his name and the address of his work, and he was furious. MIL’s a nice lady, but she’s clueless of how easy it is to find something once it’s on the internet.

            1. Zillah

              I have cousins who do the same thing. It’s not really my place to tell them not to, but yikes – it concerns me and if I ever have kids, that’s absolutely not what I’ll be doing.

            2. Evie

              My younger sister has been bugging our mother to let her have a Facebook account for ages now. Our mum hates those kinds of things so it was a big no no for a while but more recently I got dragged into it because of the insistence. I told her that story of the American girl who’s mother don’t want her getting in FB because of how info can flow and took a picture, asking it to be tagged and whatnot to show the kid how many people can end up seeing it. Which probably would have been incentive enough but then 4channers or some such got hold of it, found the family and was able to call them up on the phone. It more than proved the point- though perhaps not quite what was intended.

      2. Snowglobe

        You can also remove tags of yourself from other people’s posts. Since there were only two posts tagged, I wonder if she’s been doing that and missed a couple.

    2. caryatid

      everything i know about dominatrices (sp?) would lead me to think that they have fairly buttoned-up rules about their relationships with their clients.

      she could write that into the rules of their relationship – no public photos, or no fb photos at all. if this guy is really her “slave”, then he needs to obey her.

      1. HadToReply

        I have to say, is she a Dominatrix (A female who is paid to Dominate someone) or a Domme – a female who isn’t and partakes as a hobby. In the latter case, calling the person their Mistress, is akin to calling them their ‘girlfriend’. From what the Letter writer wrote, I would say it’s the latter. Still, it is Alt Lifestyle ettiquette to get permission to post photos etc, so there is a huge likelyhood that she knows and accepts it.

        As someone who is in the lifestyle, I can tell you a lot of horror stories where people have been ‘outed’ to employers or come out themselves. Most of them have lost their jobs. Some have had pretty decent bosses/managers (you’re not doing it here or on our time, so why should it concern us?). Still, it is something I keep as seperate from my work as I can manage it.

        1. MashaKasha

          I was thinking the latter as well.

          I have casual friends who are in other alt lifestyles and it’s just a hobby, parties on weekends, meeting new people, an occasional weekend swingers’ conference and so forth. It does not harm anyone. It is definitely not a source of income to them. From OP’s letter, I gathered that this is also the case with her former coworker – a hobby/something she and her friends enjoy vs a paying second job.

    3. Just another techie

      I just want to know why on earth you’d give a client your real name in that situation? Especially if your day job is something sensitive, why wouldn’t you use a stage name?

  5. Mike C.

    I am pretty sure she could get in major trouble if the wrong person found it.

    I really, really hate that teachers have to go through this bullshit.

    Guess what? Adults sometimes have sex outside of work. That’s ok, that’s normal, that’s something humans do. But heaven forbid it get out that a precious teacher with impressionable students is found out to be doing the same sort of thing everyone else is by their concerned, tax-paying parents, who of course would never ever be caught dead doing something so vile and sinful.

    I don’t think it hurts to mention that “hey, even though you’re locked down, someone else is tagging you, just a heads up”. Privacy settings on Facebook are complicated and change from time to time, so it’s perfectly normal that sometimes things slip. Given you live in an area that has a reputation for being overly judgmental about what people do in their bedrooms, it’s likely to be welcomed.

    1. MashaKasha

      +1000000

      How adults can lose their jobs for having consensual sex where no third party is being hurt in any way is beyond me. She is doing absolutely nothing wrong, and yet OP is correct that she can get in major trouble for these posts, that are not even hers. And that’s just so messed up.

    2. Shelby

      I really think with social media it is more of an issue of the students finding this stuff. Back in the day we didn’t have Facebook but we still tried to get any dirt we could on teachers’ personal lives and we were not above using it to cause chaos. Had Facebook existed, I promise you the first thing we would have done when class schedules came out was mine for internet gold. If her students were to find out she’s a dominatrix, I can’t imagine her ever having proper control over her classroom again. And yes, elementary school kids are on Facebook and can find this as well (if not better) than some of their parents.

      1. Mike C.

        Then punish the kids for being snoops or otherwise disrupting class.

        After all, if we can punish a girl for wearing a skirt a millimeter shorter than her fingertips as “distracting”, you can also punish students who actively speculate about the teacher’s sex life in class.

        1. Shelby

          Eh, I don’t know that finding something readily available to the public on Facebook qualifies as ‘snooping’ worthy of punishment. As for the disruption, sure you could try. But something that juicy is going to spread like wildfire and you’re not going to be able to do anything about (at least) thirty kids snickering and gossiping about their teacher. The bigger issue is one of professional boundaries that a teacher needs to maintain with students in order to keep control over the classroom and the respect of his/her students. That’s an intangible and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I don’t think teachers should lose their jobs for their personal lives, but fair or unfair they are going to be held to a higher standard of keeping certain aspects of their lives under wraps and there’s a decent reason for that.

          1. Zillah

            I agree. I absolutely don’t think that teachers should lose their jobs over something like this, but I do think that if you’re a teacher, you’re better off creating and enforcing very firm boundaries between you and your students, including limiting what personal information you tell them/make it easy for them to access. Kids and teens are immature; if you’re interacting with them a lot, you need to take that into account.

            1. snuck

              That’s what I think too.

              If you are going into a professional with children then this is part of the professional behaviours expected. Children don’t have the frontal cortex to make healthy choices, known fact… and teachers should know this…

              I believe teachers should be allowed to have whatever private life they like, but if it’s readily accessible at the finger tips of their students then they should be sent off for professional development, and possibly removed from their positions if they don’t manage that information in public. Readily accessible is part of the issue… if it’s easy enough to find under a name search in FB I’d say that was too accessible, if it was under a nom de plume that was properly secured and the kiddos had to do something like steal her personal mobile to access it and find out, then I’d say that wasn’t readily accessible.

          2. neverjaunty

            Mike C. isn’t talking about punishing the students for ‘snooping’, but for disrupting the class.

            Short of living in an underground bunker and emerging only to teach (and maybe not even then), teachers can’t keep students from gossiping about their personal lives – whether or not the gossip is true. Believe me, in the days before social media, students talked about teachers, and it’s not like they do a lot of fact-checking. Insisting that teachers never do anything that a student might snicker about is stupidly unrealistic.

            1. Jo

              Yeah, but on the other hand you have a class of sniggering teenagers who just had a group wank session over your pictures as Dominatrix…
              I had this as a student, when one of our teachers was found to do some side business in lingerie shots. She was wank material for most of the boys in class, while most of the girls just felt really uncomfortable. I think for a while she did not know what was going on, just that no matter what she did she held absolutely no respect. One day someone printed out a few pictures and put them up in the classroom and the whole thing blew up.
              I am all for privacy and teachers having a life – but be aware that children are nosy, hormone-driven and cruel and have less incentive to be civilized than normal coworkers who find out about your life.

              1. neverjaunty

                I am pretty sure that any teacher who has spent more than a week on the job is aware of how children behave, and how they are apt to react to what they perceive as embarrassing behavior by the teacher. If one of them had snuck a hidden camera into the teachers’ restroom and gotten embarrassing pictures there, the boys in your class would have had exactly the same reaction. Yes, a teacher should be mindful of privacy and the way students are apt to be jerks, but I don’t understand blaming the teacher if a handful of students become disrespectful because they think an adult woman who has a sex life is trash.

                1. Shelby

                  I think everyone is looking at this from the adult perspective of obviously adults have sex and it’s nobody’s business. That’s all well and good but there is just NO WAY that kids find out their teacher is a dominatrix and shrug it off as ‘to each his own’ and go back to their homework. In this instance, the content was apparently so graphic that it involved discussions of bodily fluids and even shocked the adult OP. There are some things you can’t unsee and it’s unrealistic to expect children or teenagers to know in graphic detail what their teacher does in her sex life and not have it interfere with their perception of her as an authority figure. It may not be “fair” but every profession has its drawbacks and in teaching you need to preserve your public image as a professional. Do whatever you want to do, but don’t let it be public on the internet.

                2. neverjaunty

                  But the entire problem is that nobody has 100% control over what they “let” become public on the Internet.

      2. 42

        All the cool kids are on Tumblr and Instagram now. I think the OP is more worried about the parents finding out. Which in a perfect world would be a non-issue.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          This is true! (Well, about Instagram, at least. I’m skeptical re: Tumblr.) My 15-year-old niece told me that she maintains a Facebook account only because older relatives like to communicate with her there.

          1. 42

            Yeah…16-year-old daughter is my direct pipeline. She’s all Tumblr, I gotta say, and so are her friends.

            Now we need an informal non-scientific poll, because I don’t want to have misinformation on general coolness.

          2. MashaKasha

            My kid was the same way, then he and his friends started a band, and a band needs a FB page.

            FB is becoming more of a networking/marketing/business tool than a social anything. I use it to read news, follow venues, and get recipes/leads on good restaurants from a foodies group I’m in.

          3. Blue Anne

            My 13 year old niece is on tumblr so often that my sister is considering banning it.

            I love it so much though. She’s debating the sexualities of Dickens characters! No offense to you folks because I know there are some pretty cool nieces in the comments section here, but I definitely have the coolest niece of them all.

    3. Bend & Snap

      Right. Unless it’s sex with students, teachers having a sex life is a normal, healthy thing. Frankly, teachers who have one are probably happier and more relaxed than those who don’t. I want happy, relaxed people teaching my kids.

    4. Ms. Anne Thrope

      Even worse are the ones who get fired because a photo of them w/ a drink in their hand shows up somewhere. You’d think it was still Prohibition!!

      1. Mike C.

        Tell me about it. If I had to deal with the garbage a typical teacher does, I would have a very serious drinking problem.

    5. louise

      I think we all learned from the duck club that outside of work is far preferable to at work. Now in my 30s, I realize how much it stinks that teachers are held to such a high bar when it comes to appearances. (I clearly remember pulling up next to my government teacher at a stoplight my senior year of H.S. and being scandalized that she was singing along to the radio and animatedly drumming on her steering wheel.)

    6. Sarahnova

      Not that it really changes anything in this scenario, but my understanding is that being a professional domme typically involves no sex with clients whatsoever.

      1. So Very Anon

        That’s if she *is* a pro. I don’t see anything in the OP’s letter that specifies whether this is a paying gig for her or simply a part of her personal life.

    7. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      My friend (who is a teacher) and I were touring a historic site that had a one room classroom. It had a copy of a teacher’s contract from the 1800’s and her comment was that “the rules really haven’t changed.”

      The standard teachers are held to is ridiculous.

    8. Stranger than fiction

      I think this is the first time I really disagree with you. Sure what people do behind closed doors is their business but she’s left the door wide open. Imagine you’re an 11 year old kid and found this out about your teacher and how awkward that would be at such an age? I find it sad that due to the Internet age childhood is so damn short now.

      1. fposte

        I don’t think the door was left that wide open–it’s not like she’s friending all her students with her domme photos.

        I don’t think that childhood is about being protected from the notion that adults have sex. It’s a pretty recent phenomenon that it’s supposed to happen with the kids out of the room, after all. The adult doesn’t talk about it where it isn’t appropriate, but teachers have always had sex and kids have always awkwardly negotiated that fact.

      2. Anna

        You’re kidding, right? Students have speculated on much worse things about their teachers long before social media existed. Children aren’t as fragile as people tend to think they are. They can reason and they can learn boundaries at age 11 and much younger. It’s an opportunity for parents to have a conversation about respecting privacy and if a parent is too worried about the awkwardness having that conversation, that’s what the focus should be on. A parent’s discomfort about having a tough conversation is not on anyone but that parent.

    9. bridget

      Eh, I can sometimes see that it’s better for teachers to keep their sex lives unusually private. Maybe not for elementary or middle school kids, but if they teach high school kids (experiencing their own immature sexuality), and those high school kids can easily find details of their teachers’ sex lives on the internet, I’d say that’s pretty inappropriate information for that relationship. Sure, they can know as a general matter that adults have sex lives, but I think it’s unhealthy for 15-18 year olds to know the nitty gritty info about the authority figures in their lives. It’s not a healthy boundary.

      1. bridget

        This of course doesn’t mean that OP should do anything about it, just that I don’t think it’s entirely inappropriate for her bosses to think its relevant to her job.

      2. fposte

        Can you explain more about why? I don’t think personal sex tales belong in the classroom, but that’s not what’s happening here. I think there’s a risk here of counting sex only as non-straight, non-vanilla sex and all the preggo and newly dating teachers, etc. fly under the radar while somebody’s unlinked Facebook rep is an issue.

        1. bridget

          It’s similar to the reason why I think healthy boundaries dictate I don’t know the details of my parents’ or bosses’ sex lives. There’s a legitimate authority and power dynamic there, that means it’s inappropriate to share everything. I think those boundaries should be ratcheted up a notch when dealing with teenagers who are less prepared to deal with this information maturely.

          To be clearer, I think it’s fine to know that those people have a sex life, and even the general parameters of that sex life, even where they are not vanilla. Unattached and dating around? Living with a significant other? Married? Gay/Straight/Poly/other? All appropriate things to know.

          As an example, a married pregnant teacher and her husband might enjoy only totally vanilla sex. But it would still be hugely inappropriate for her to tell her students specific graphic details of that vanilla sex. Allowing that information to be on the internet in a way that she knows or should know that students can and will easily access is not the same as telling them about it directly, but it’s close enough that I think it is Cause for Concern.

          In sum, I think I’m latching onto the LW’s representation that these posts are unusually graphic, including information about bodily fluids. That crosses the line from knowing someone’s sexual identity/preferences. And if a teacher allows that information to be shared with the world in a way that s/he knows or has reason to know is likely available to the students is not exhibiting professional behavior, and I think its legit for her employers to view it that way.

        2. bridget

          Better example: It would be inappropriate, boundary-wise, for LW’s co-worker to print those posts off and leave them lying around the classroom (even inadvertently). She’s not directly telling her students, but it’s unsecured enough that she should be on notice that they’re very likely to find it. I’d argue that an unsecured facebook page with your real name on it is similar.

          I think it’s not too much to ask for teachers to keep graphic details of their sex lives reasonably secured by privacy settings.

          1. neverjaunty

            But as has been pointed out repeatedly:

            1) These posts are not on the teacher’s FB, but on somebody else’s, and
            2) FB changes its complicated privacy settings randomly, so she may not have had the ability to stop this person from linking to/tagging her anyway.

            When a married teacher shows up pregnant, the students have a pretty good idea that she’s having sex with Mr. Teacher, but we’re past the era when we worried that students might be aware of such a thing.

          2. Treena

            But then, with that logic, is she allowed to be on an online dating site? Or Fetlife (the Facebook of kink). Because even though you “have to be 18,” it’s easy to set up an account. If bored teenagers are trolling around and they find that info, is that also her fault? What if she used to perform in porn? Or is it “fair game” only because it’s Facebook?

    10. T

      I used to work at a K-12 district and occasionally witnessed issues involving teachers breaking the so-called morality clause. We actually fired several teachers for getting pregnant out of wedlock (and this was in the mid-2000’s!). I could be somewhat understanding if these clauses were clearly defined and actually applied evenly but they never are. I always wondered what a teacher would do if they decided to have a baby on their own (as many women are). Announce their intent in advance and get notes from her fertility doctor?

      1. GOG11

        Wouldn’t they be discriminating against her based on sex/pregnancy? Can a morality clause trump that, or would it somehow now apply under these specific circumstances? I’m very curious.

    11. 2 Cents

      My hubs is a teacher, and has witnessed the “burn the witch” mentality several times in recent years because of what teachers have posted on their private social media accounts (I know nothing is private on social media, but these people had the highest level of security possible–but one of their “friends” took a screenshot and showed it to administration. Heaven forbid a teacher swear in their off time!)

      1. Sunshine

        Ugh. What does these so-called “friends” gain from that? Fewer qualified teachers in the classroom? Because that’s what we need. People suck.

    12. manybellsdown

      I had to quit a Rocky Horror cast I was in, because our new venue was 3 blocks from the school I taught at. All it would take was one parent at my midnight show and I’d have been out of a job. Ironically, I was the drama teacher.

      1. Blue Anne

        This was basically my nightmare when I was working with kids. I was a nanny, did babysitting and tutoring, had a teaching placement, ran the Girl Guides, etc. I was terrified that I was going to run into a parent at a kink event, or someone was going to find me on OKC and realize that a greedy bisexual poly woman was teaching their kids long divison.

        But I always took solace in the fact that if they found me, it was because they were there too.

        1. Amy UK

          Yeah, but for some reason everyone is very keen to forget that the parents could only find you by being on these ‘degenerate’ sites themselves. If you, as the teacher, point that out, you’re “deflecting from the issue” and “not taking responsibility”. Or they claim that teachers are held to a higher standard.

          For some reason, it’s fine for children to live 18 hours a day with parents who are on fetish websites, trawling dating sites, going out drinking and dancing etc etc. But how dare you think it’s acceptable for them to spend six hours a day with a person like that who has passed a bajillion background checks?!

  6. Lily in NYC

    What you are “supposed to do with this knowledge” is absolutely nothing. It doesn’t involve you or affect you in any way.

  7. Newyorker

    I once had a colleague who wrote sexual domination and humiliation fiction on the side and posted it online for public view. He didn’t talk about it in the office, but it wasn’t hard to discover, so over time it became something of an open secret. The day he realized we all knew, he took down his website without comment. We all regarded him somewhat differently but it never interfered with our ability to work together, and to the best of my knowledge, no one ever had a workplace discussion about it, either.

    It’s tough to find a public/private balance, but unless it spills into office behavior, it should be a fairly moot point.

  8. Bend & Snap

    So the OP a) went to a ton of effort to dig up this co worker’s personal life (after “assuming that she might be a lesbian”). Hmm.

    Not your circus, not your monkeys, OP. This is just so far out of the realm of anyone’s business, especially someone who doesn’t know the woman in question.

    I really think the takeaway here is a good lesson for teachers that yes, you’re scrutinized all the time, and YES you should check your Facebook settings. And NO, not everything is everyone’s business, even in the public domain.

    1. MashaKasha

      I wish it were a ton of effort. All it takes is one FB search.

      I just typed “Joseph Blow” into a FB search and a whole bunch of random posts from people I don’t know showed up in the results. Anything with either of those words in the text of the post appears to be returned by a search.

      FB has never been big on giving a hoot about people’s privacy, so I’m not even surprised…

      1. Bend & Snap

        The digging into the tagger’s Facebook sounds like effort to me. Is it detective work? No. But it’s well beyond a casual search.

        1. Letter Writer

          Hi! It was actually a very basic search. I typed in her name, she was the first result, and the first two posts on her profile are the ones I’m referring to in this post. It was less than 10 seconds of sleuthing. Also, I’m one of the A’s in the whole LGBTQQIAAetc scale, so when I say “I assumed she was a lesbian,” I was actually hoping to find other cool non-heteros in the education field…it’s pretty hard to find them in the south! Sorry I wasn’t more clear in my original letter.

          1. Bend & Snap

            OH! That makes more sense :)

            I know Facebook digging isn’t overly complex but it just seemed like a lot of curiosity for someone one doesn’t know all that well.

            In your shoes, I’d just go about my business, but other posters have good ideas about how to pass that message along.

        2. BethRA

          “I’m not her friend, but I was able to search for her and find her profile very easily.”

          Doesn’t sound like much effort to me.

          And frankly, I know lots of people who’ve found out one way or the other how accessible some of their info was – usually because they didn’t realize how their friends’ activities could give access to their own.

          Not OP’s business, but I’d be inclined to send the woman a heads-up, since it could impact her career (not that I think it should).

        1. bridget

          And what’s more, a really common activity for kids any older than say, 11 to do. Unless she’s a preschool teacher, there’s a decent chance her students could and will find it. I’m all for not expecting teachers to be celibate saints, but I can see school administrators needing to draw a line here.

          1. neverjaunty

            And the line is “if anybody posts something about you that might make an 11-year-old snicker, you’re fired”? Wow.

              1. Treena

                The thing is, they will jack off. It’s kind of the rule of adolescence? No matter what it is, it will happen. Not much you can do about it!

              2. neverjaunty

                Oh. So if someone broke into the teacher’s house at night, took invasive and embarrassing photos while she was asleep, and then posted the pictures on Facebook, we should fire the teacher? Or maybe the teacher is on a swim team, and somebody posts a picture of her at a meet getting out of the pool in her one-piece? After all, these are things that teenage boys could jack off to, therefore her job is forfeit?

                1. Evie

                  Seconding neverjaunty – so teachers may not wear swimmers? Or summer dresses? Or ever have a photo of a night out with the girls where they wear something slinky? Cause teenagers can jerk off over a lot.
                  And I realize all of those are female examples. So. Or guy teachers – no more gym shorts or rugby uniforms? No more baring their arms in summer? Never again to wear a cute sweater vest or a nice suit?

          2. Evie

            Bridget – what about teachers who (as other have pointed out) demonstrably (via pregnancy) have unprotected sex. Should they not teach teenagers incase the encourage risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy?

    2. some1

      That seemed odd to me, too. Why not just ask the friend who brought it up, “Oh, is she gay?” if you’re curious.

      1. Zillah

        There’s nothing wrong with doing that… but I don’t think there’s anything all that odd about searching for someone on facebook instead. IME, that’s not at all an odd thing to do when you’re idly curious about something. I’m not sure what your background is – maybe it’s a generational/cultural thing?

  9. Fitz

    What you do with the information is keep it to yourself OR tell that woman.

    Teachers being seen as public property needs to end. She’s not a sexual predator; she just has sex with consenting adults on her own time.

    1. caryatid

      many (most?) dominatrices do not have sex with their clients, although it can be considered to be sex work.

      1. 2 Cents

        +1 Definitely not as human beings who have their own lives or who could possibly make a mistake because they’re human.

  10. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    I’d be inclined to message her with a “hey, just fyi” and then never mention it again if she leaves it public. A lot of people just don’t seem to “get” facebook privacy settings (and I’ve noticed this across generational barriers. I’ve come across middle school kids posting things like “if we’re not friends why do you think you know my life?” well kiddo, it’s because you’re posting about it publicly and I just stopped by to see if I actually did know you but now I could write a dossier on your life).

    I think the key is that if she responds with something like “yeah, I know” that you don’t push it and make it about professionalism. It might not be professional, it might put her job at risk, but that’s not your call. Inform and back away.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      I think that’s a great approach. And maybe she doesn’t care. Maybe she’s earning good money doing this on the side and doesn’t give a rats behind if she does lose the teaching job.

  11. TL -

    Somewhat a tangent but there is literally a whole other social network site specifically set up for talking about and sharing this kind of stuff that is not Facebook! It allows for anonymity if so desired and keeps your “private” life in a social circle where people actually want to know those details without endangering people’s livelihoods and reputations.

    Sigh. Co-worker’s Facebook friend should be trumpeting there, not on Facebook.

  12. hbc

    Tell her if you know her well enough that she would a) want to know and b) believe that this is a message coming from respect and non-judgment versus, say, a veiled threat or attempt to set her on the straight and narrow. Otherwise, leave it alone and never speak of it again–not because it’s shameful (it’s not), but because talking about it could do real harm to her.

  13. Turanga Leela

    Former teacher here: I’d let her know. While she should know her Facebook settings, she may not, especially for things that other people post. She could lose her job over this, and it would be kind to alert her that these posts are publicly visible. Alison’s wording is good, since it focuses on whether she intends for stuff to be public (and not, say, that she’s a dominatrix).

    Either send her a non-anonymous message, or ask a trusted mutual friend to let her know. (The friend would have to be someone who wouldn’t tell parents or the district.) If you contact the teacher directly, is there a way you can reach her without using her/your district email account? If you two know each other, the easiest thing to do might be to friend her on facebook, then send a facebook message about the issue.

  14. Sara

    I basically agree with Alison’s advice. I am also a teacher, and I’m very vigilant about keeping up with changes to Facebook’s privacy settings – and while I’m not saying that anyone who doesn’t do so “has it coming,” I think it’s probably better for everyone who uses social media (no matter what their profession) be active about keeping their profiles/pages in line with what they feel comfortable sharing. (So if someone wants to let everything be public, that’s cool, and if someone wants to keep it all locked down, that’s cool too.) My choice is to keep personal details other than my name off of Facebook altogether, and while I’m okay with photos of me being posted as “friends only,” I delete or untag myself in anything related to drinking, for example. If a picture of me doing a kegstand somehow slipped my notice, I’d definitely want someone I know and trust (not an anonymous stranger!) to let me know, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to assume that anyone else would feel the same way. If there’s a way for the OP to convey this information, in a non-gossipy way, to someone who knows Ms. So-and-So, she could try to do that, but I’d lean towards just letting it go altogether.

    1. Sara

      To clarify, I mean that the OP could try to let someone who is friends with Ms. So-and-So know, discreetly, that this information is publicly visible so that the friend could let Ms. So-and-So know in case she wants to remove it. I didn’t mean for it to sound like the OP should just randomly talk about this woman’s profile with other coworkers.

  15. Jwal

    I’ve honestly never thought about checking other people’s posts to see where I’m tagged. I pretty much only have a facebook to check maybe once or twice a month (as opposed to when I got it as a teenager and it was once or twice a day or more).

    If she has her privacy settings so that you couldn’t see stuff on her profile then I’d say it’s likely that she thinks that this is adequately masking anything she wouldn’t want an employer etc to see.

    I’d be inclined to say that you saw it, but maybe give another reason for why you were looking than ‘to figure out if you were a lesbian’, because I can’t see that as being anything other than awkward!

  16. Sunflower

    You don’t HAVE to do anything. Personally I would give the person a heads-up because Facebook changes their privacy settings every day. Seriously somedays I can see pictures that people are tagged in and somedays I can’t. Also if you have your profile set on ‘no one can see tagged pictures of me’, people can still ‘search’ them from your page and if they are public, then they are attached to you (PS- I probably should have commented this in the thread the other day but I’m really good at internet stalking people)

    A lot of people haven’t used Facebook on a computer in a long time and don’t realize that the privacy settings have changed a lot and there is a lot more info available out there if you’re on a computer than going through the app.

    You aren’t any any obligation to do anything but I think it would be gracious to give them the heads up.

    1. MashaKasha

      “there is a lot more info available out there if you’re on a computer than going through the app.”

      Yikes, is that true? I haven’t facebooked on a computer in a very long time. Should probably check what’s available on there about me.

      1. Sunflower

        Yes! Now you can basically search a person’s activity on Facebook.

        Like if you went to my profile and then clicked on the search bar at the top, a list of options would come up
        ‘search pictures of ‘sunflower”
        ‘search posts with ‘sunflower”
        ‘search pictures ‘sunflower likes”

        What comes up would depend on the person who posted the content’s settings. So if you’re tagged in a picture and the person who posted it has the picture public or semi-public, it will come up- even if you have your settings set to not have people see your tagged pics.

        You could search ‘Sunflower Donald Trump’ and anything I wrote about Donald Trump or if I liked something Donald Trump posted or if someone tagged me in a post about Donald Trump, it could possibly come up. The settings are so out of wack now that I can’t keep track of them.

        The privacy settings definitely vary. Sometimes I will get those options for both people I am and am not friends with and sometimes nothing comes up. And sometimes I can see a lot of stuff from people I’m not friends with who I can tell want to have their profile kept pretty private. So now I just barely use Facebook bc I can’t keep up!

            1. Zillah

              I’m now seriously considering deleting the entire thing, which I haven’t logged into in ages, anyway.

        1. LeRainDrop

          Very, very interesting. So, I just tested this out and found that the “photos of leraindrop” feature/search shows not only photos and posts for me, but also all the other leraindrops on facebook. This stuff is crazy!

  17. TotesMaGoats

    This falls squarely in not your business and not your problem. If you were friends i might mention the privacy thing but you aren’t.

  18. K.

    I knew someone who was a dominatrix as a side hustle; her full-time job didn’t pay her enough to live on and she made up the difference and more with dominating. There was a huge market for it where she lived and she was pretty open about it – if you asked her what she did for a living, she’d mention both jobs. The OP’s coworker may not care that this info is out there. OP, I’d stay out of it.

  19. LBK

    I would say something just because Facebook’s privacy settings are complicated and constantly changing and it’s entirely possible she doesn’t realize that they’re visible. Hiding tags/check-ins by others is a completely separate setting from hiding your own posts, so she may think she’s blocked everything and doesn’t know that this guy’s tags are still public on her profile. I would do it just as Alison says: “I’m letting you know this is visible just in case you don’t realize it.”

    Facebook does have a “View my profile as ____” feature that I encourage everyone to check occasionally just to ensure that things are still showing up the way you intend. There are relatively frequent unilateral changes to their privacy policy and they almost always default to the most public setting (especially if it’s a new feature, like when status tagging was first added).

  20. AMS

    “While she hasn’t made any posts herself, she is publicly tagged in several posts by a man who proudly proclaims himself to be “Mistress ____’s slave” at least twice. Upon viewing HIS Facebook page, I can see dozens of other posts that refer to her by name but don’t tag her actual profile.”

    This doesn’t make her a Dominatrix, it makes her a Domme (the feminization of Dom, short for Dominant) or Mistress. Without getting into too much kinky nomenclature, it sounds like she is a woman who is or was involved in a power exchange relationship with a man who gave her a degree of authority over him for their mutual satisfaction. “Dominatrix” implies a business transaction, “Mistress” and “slave” imply a relationship. Unless public humiliation is one of this guy’s kinks and he posted all that on orders received during his sessions with a Dominatrix (which would be negotiated beforehand, btw), he generally wouldn’t be calling himself a slave.

    That being said, this likely isn’t in the same realm as the stereotype of being a stripper in college. If I thought it was my place at all, I would mention my concerns about the woman’s privacy to the coworker they have in common. It would be unsettling and vaguely threatening to come from a stranger, especially given how much effort that stranger put in to find out.

    1. Voluptuousfire

      But again, lots of pro Dommes go by Mistress something or other. It very well could be a professional arrangement. Even so, he’s rather shortsighted to not figure this stuff out.

    2. Letter Writer

      She has two “slaves” that live with her full time–its not just a side job or anything. I wasn’t sure of the correct terminology so I erred with the side of what I thought would be most commonly known to the general public. Thanks for the clarification!

  21. Jady

    I’d say email here, short and sweet. If she does know or doesn’t care, no harm done. If she doesn’t know, major problem for her.

    Some people just aren’t tech-savy or don’t understand how all these features work.

    1. LBK

      I could see this response applying if the OP were thinking of reporting the woman to her employer or telling her she needs to take it down, but if all she wants to do is give the woman a heads up that it’s public and then let her proceed however she wants from there, I’m not clear how “not her business” is really a relevant concern.

      Just thinking personally, I would be mortified if I found out some of my Facebook posts weren’t as locked down as I thought and would be extremely grateful for the heads up. On the flipside, if someone messaged me about something I’d purposely posted publicly, I wouldn’t be offended that they’d brought it up as long as their tone was clearly meant to be helpful rather than judgmental (eg “I can’t believe you’d post that publicly!”).

    2. Letter Writer

      It’s not, but I still don’t want her to get fired! I don’t want anyone to get fired for something as simple as a Facebook privacy setting.

  22. Mander

    I don’t think the OP should feel obligated to let her know, but as a person who isn’t freaked out by this stuff it could be a friendly gesture to tell her. I probably would, if it were me — sure, it was not 100% innocent to search for her in the first place, but not totally creepy, and I’d rather hear something like that from a stranger who is not judgmental about my lifestyle than from someone who is uncomfortable with it.

  23. Voluptuousfire

    Wow…

    As another poster said, not your circus, not your monkeys. If anything, I’d be worried about her submissive who is tagging her publicly on her personal FB profile. I’m rather surprised she doesn’t have a page for herself as a dominatrix on social media(if she chose to). They already have to vet people like crazy to make sure they’re not nefarious.

  24. Aisling

    I find this question very strange. You went snooping through an acquaintance’s FB because curiosity got the better of you, and you found information you didn’t expect, and now want AAM to tell you how to handle the info you wish you hadn’t found? I’d suggest that next time, you let people’s private lives stay private (I don’t care that it’s on FB for anyone to find, you deliberately went looking for evidence of someone’s private life) and stop snooping.

    1. Evie

      I’d also say that in this day and age googling or Facebook searching people is fairly normal. Hiring a new employee? To the internet! New work mates you’re curios about – same thing and so on. It can be seen as a low key way to get in touch too sometimes. I know I have used it to get back in touch with an old childhood pen pal and I’ve had people I’ve met briefly in lectures or forums friend me or I’ve friended them. “So and so mentioned you and that we might have a thing in common so I thought I’d send u this Facebook friending connection” is not the weirdest thing these days.

  25. Karowen

    I feel like most of the comments are being a little harsh on the OP. She’s concerned for a colleague and is asking for advice on how to handle it. This is not a typical work environment where you’re generally expected to ignore things that go on outside of the workplace, this is an environment where people get fired over perfectly legal activities. She’s not saying that she supports the profession’s issues, and in fact is proving she disagrees with them by giving the colleague a heads up rather than telling a school board member. But that fact is that in her world, something like this could be devastating to a career.

    OP, I think you should give the colleague a heads up. Just a simple “this is appearing on your page, not sure if it’s on purpose, but I wanted you to be aware.” I don’t think of it any differently than someone discretely telling me that they can see right down my shirt when I’m sitting. I may be aware of it and in fact wearing it because of that, but I also may be completely oblivious and incredibly grateful that someone told me.

    1. Zingbot

      Agreed, also in the comments she mentions also being of an alternative lifestyle. She’s just looking out!! I agree after thinking about it that it’s probably best not to get involved, but I would have had the same dilemma!

  26. Katniss

    On a related note, this is one of the many reasons I hate Facebook’s real name policy, which seems to be enforced entirely at random. I was a nude model for about 8 years on a fairly well known site and 70% of my FB friends are people I know through there. I used a fake name that I guess is real sounding enough not to bug FB. I do this because I can’t avoid all those friends mentioning the site and don’t want to, but I don’t want an employer to be able to find that and judge me, though of course it’s none of their business. Another model there was recently reported for using a fake name and if that happened to me I would just quit FB.

  27. Wren

    I am the type of person who would say something, and in fact did so once, anonymously, but it was in the early days of blogging and people were more thoughtless/less aware of the risks they were taking. I do wonder at the judgement of this woman, as she is absolutely endangering her employment with the school system. I don’t think anonymity is a problem so long as you say it in a totally non-judgemental, non-threatening manner. If it has the slightest whiff of either, then yes, it would be unkind and leave her paranoid about everyone around her as Alison says.

    The time I did it, it was a former classmate I really disliked (gross sexist worldview.) I warned him in neutral friendly language, to prevent myself from acting on my baser impulses of outing him to his emplyoyer (I stumbled on him blogging publicly about being bored and “pretending to work” with a username based on his real name, and his employer listed in the “about me” section.) I did it it as an anonymous comment because I wanted minimal contact since I disliked him already.

  28. Jennifer

    I would tell her immediately. We don’t know her financial situation (if she needs the teaching job) or not, and this is the kind of thing that will get her fired in one second if her blabbermouth slave is spotted. If it was me, I think I’d want to be warned about it–at the very least she can order her slave to take it down, right? (Hopefully?) I’m reasonably assuming that unlike most jerkasses who’d do this online, a slave might have enough respect for her to follow her wishes.

  29. Jill

    This debate about whether teachers can have sex on their own time doesn’t help the OP though.

    OP…I agree with AAM that an anonymous message isn’t the way to go. You could approach the teacher by starting out with, “This is a bit awkward, considering that we barely know each other, but if our roles were reversed, I’d sure appreciate someone giving me a heads up on this…” then go into describing how easily you were able to find what you found. Approaching it as, “I want to give you a gentle heads up and be sensitive about this” goes over a lot better than an anonymous tip which creates the panic that a LOT of people are gossiping about this behind her back.

    And of course, what you found ends with you, right? Your discretion will go a long way here, too.

  30. lawbee

    What am I supposed to do with this information about someone I’m not particularly close to, who doesn’t work at my workplace, and which I dug out just to feed my own curiousity?

    Absolutely nothing.

    1. Zillah

      This is casting the OP in a pretty harsh light, considering that she’s not talking about wanting to inform the school or sabotage her former coworker – she’s concerned about the woman being burned by information she may not know is being made public. The OP might be better off minding her own business, but this is a kindly meant concern, and multiple commenters here have said that if they were in the OP’s former coworker’s position, they’d appreciate a heads up, particularly since facebook is constantly changing their privacy settings.

  31. Kerry

    I’m a mom of elementary school kids. I’d be delighted to have this teacher instead of some of the wackadoodles who actually teach at my kids’ school. One teacher in particular has a public Facebook profile with the most hateful crap you’ve ever seen. Photos comparing Michelle Obama to an ape, stuff about the good ol’ days when we beat our kids, stuff about how Muslim women should be banned from public places because they’re terrorists in disguise…you name it. And I recognize many of the “likes,” because they’re from other teachers at this school.

    A teacher who has sex? No problem. A hateful nutjob? Not a fan.

    1. neverjaunty

      You know that there are websites that are all over this stuff. (I don’t mean about disliking Obama or being conservative, I mean that I’d be VERY concerned about an elementary school teacher who advocated beating children, and I don’t think you get any privacy on that front.)

    2. Florida

      The world needs more parents like you. Often the reason that the teacher who has sex (consensual sexual outside of school with an adult ) gets fired but the bigot teacher doesn’t get fired is because a small group of crazy parents will make it into a huge deal.

  32. Tara R.

    I would say “Hi X! This isn’t really any of my business, but Facebook privacy settings can be weird so I wasn’t sure if you knew that [Y]’s posts about you are publically visible. It shouldn’t matter, but I know how things can be around here so I figured I’d mention it. All the best!”

    As someone who was in high school less than a year ago: Yes, kids gossip about teachers’ sex lives. Yes, this would go around the school like wild fire. No, that shouldn’t be a reason to punish teachers for daring to be real people with real adult lives separate from their jobs. Kids looking at teachers’ FB accounts is an opportunity to talk to them about personal and professional being different, not give them Pearl-Clutching 101 lessons.

    And as someone whose father constantly wanted/wants my opinions and reassurances about his sex life, I can tell you that factually knowing an adult has one is not what causes the problems. The problems start when you have to hear about it.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot

      100% agreed. Yes, kids do gossip, but that doesn’t mean teachers should be forced to adhere to 19th century morality clauses. Actually, when I was a kid, my reaction (and the reactions of other kids I knew) would probably have been “Wow, weird! *scandalized giggle* Eww!” And an attempt to never think about it again, because I found the thought of adults having sex to be gross.

      Your *father* wants your opinions about his sex life…OMG WHY.

      *seeks brain bleach*

  33. Anon E. Mouse III

    Am I the only one wondering why OP felt the need to be nosy to begin with? This would be a non-issue if you’d have stayed in your lane. Your coworker is worthy of the side-eye too for putting someone else’s business out there like that, too.

      1. Zingbot

        FWIW I think a lot more people would have done the same thing in this situation Whether they admit it or not, I would have! Glad it resolved itself and she’s in a role where Facebook privacy settings won’t effect her employment at all hopefully, cheers!

  34. Letter Writer

    So I realize this was JUST posted today and I just emailed Alison about this less than a week ago, but I already do have an update to this situation:

    She has been terminated from the position and is now doing sex work full time. I have absolutely no idea WHY she was terminated–I can make an assumption but again, I have no idea, so I’m leaving that open. The coworker who initially told me about “Ms. ____’s alternative lifestyle” talked to her earlier this week and found out this information.

    Thanks to everyone who provided constructive comments…I have to say I am relieved that this situation resolved itself.

    1. Voluptuousfire

      Chances are she’ll probably make more money being a pro Domme than being a teacher. You can set your own hours and get paid pretty damned well per hour, dependent on your clientele and your *ahem* specializations.

    2. Mookie

      Just for clarification (a lot of the discussion above concerned the potential “impact” her private life would have on her students if they found out she was domme-ing), this woman wasn’t actually a teacher, was she?

  35. voyager1

    After reading the LW and the update and many of the comments about teachers (which I agree with), people wonder why I am not on Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram.

    I just wanted to say, teachers are getting in the crosshairs for having a life outside of the school, but they aren’t the only profession. Look what has happened with flight attendants too.

  36. Natalie

    If she wanted to be a dominatrix full time, she probably would have been already. Sure being fired opened up an opportunity for her to do so. Saying she’s doing dom work full time is something those involved in this mess can say to make themselves feel better.

    This doesn’t seem right. I think someone didn’t mind their own business and reported her “alternative” lifestyle.

    Facebook privacy setting or not, people should mind their own business. Was she a good teacher doing her job? Then there isn’t a problem. Sweep off your own front porch!

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