A couple of days ago, we reported on the case of a young British man who was jailed for 56 days after making racist comments on Twitter. A few days earlier, though, on the other side of the pond in Garrett, Indiana, a high school student also had to face the consequences of his tweets – although the circumstances in that case were very different indeed.
High school senior Austin Carroll had posted numerous tweets containing profanities on his personal Twitter account. Carroll said that one example of his tweets read: “F****** is one of those f****** words you can f****** put anywhere in a f****** sentence and it still f****** makes sense”.
The student clearly does not deny writing and posting the tweets in question. But Garrett High School alleged that Carroll did so from a school computer. He denied this, claiming that he had tweeted from his home PC, and insisted that the school was poking its nose where it didn’t belong. He said: “If my account is on my personal account [sic], I don’t think the school or anybody should be looking at it. Because it’s my own personal stuff and it’s none of their business.”
Garrett High School’s principal explained to Indiana’s NewsCenter that the school actively monitors students’ social media activity on its equipment and all tweets on a Twitter account are tracked when a student logs in to the network.
According to Fort Wayne's Journal Gazette, the tweets had in fact been posted in the middle of the night, as late as 2:30am, so if nothing else, it’s fair to say that the student was on his own time. The school maintained that the tweets “had the school’s IP address”, but Carroll’s mother remained adamant that her son had tweeted from their home computer. She said that she didn’t approve of the language her son had used, but defended his right to privacy outside of school hours. Garrett High School ultimately ruled that the tweets had been posted from a school laptop, and Carroll was subsequently expelled.
He added: “I didn’t post the thing at school, but their computer is saying that I did post it, and I shouldn’t be getting in trouble for stuff I did on my own time, on my computer. I just want to be able to go back to regular school, go to prom and go to everything that a regular senior would get to do in their senior year.”
Carroll will be permitted to complete his studies at another school.
Image via Indiana's NewsCenter