A Screenshot is Forever

Updated at 2:25 PM on 1/26/16: From GPB, Rep. Jason Spencer has released a statement: 

Updated at 11:55 AM on 1/26/16: Maureen Downey reports that Jeremy Spencer is no longer employed by the DOE. From Superintendent Woods’ statement: “These posts in no way reflect my opinions, or those of the Department of Education.”

There are several ways for an elected or appointed official to approach social media. On Facebook, many maintain two separate accounts: a personal one that’s limited to family and friends – and by “friends,” I mean actual friends, people with whom you went to college or high school with, or worked with, or anyone whose phone number you use for non-work-related conversations – and an “official” Facebook account used strictly for political or campaign updates. Sometimes, though, someone in a public role will decide to maintain just one Facebook account where, along with Aunt Bertha, their next-door neighbor, their boss, their elementary school bus seatmate, and any constituent or stakeholder, they can post whatever they want, regardless of whether it’s personal or work-related.

Which brings us to Jeremy Spencer. As the AJC’s Maureen Downey reported yesterday, Spencer is the Associate Superintendent of Virtual Instruction for the Georgia Department of Education (and is the twin brother of state Representative Jason Spencer), and was hired by state school Superintendent Richard Woods one year ago with a salary of $138,000. On Spencer’s Facebook page (which has since been scrubbed, but the screenshots live on in Downey’s post) he clearly identified his position – and by “position,” I mean his position with the DOE, along with his positions on white people, the Black Lives Matter movement, the gay pride Festivus pole, lynchings, Muslims, and the Big Lebowski. One of the most outrageous posts, a vintage image of a lynching, was posted by a friend of Spencer’s underneath an anti-Obama political cartoon that Spencer posted, but as anyone on Facebook knows, if someone posts something dumb (or racist, or NSFW) on your Facebook page, it is super easy to just delete it. Spencer left the photo in his comments for more than two months.

Downey’s blog post offers additional insight, and screenshots:

Spencer identifies himself as a DOE leader on his Facebook page and shares DOE news and announcements among his posts about minorities, guns, deportation of immigrants, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Many of Spencer’s posts speak directly to Georgia educators about DOE issues and programs, so he was aware his Facebook page was being read by teachers around the state.

Earlier today, I called DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza who was unaware of the posts and said he would find out whether they violated any DOE or state policies. I also sent copies of his posts to Spencer for comment.

Within 80 minutes of my calls and emails to DOE, Spencer’s Facebook page disappeared. As many teachers on the blog have stated, social media is a minefield that has to be navigated with caution. Spencer’s posts represent controversial content for anyone to post, never mind a high-level, high-profile state official.

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On the Right
On the Right

Really? With topics like horse racing, medical marijuana, and religious “freedom” stirring at the Gold Dome, you’re pushing THIS out? Come on…

Calypso
Calypso

So, On the Right, I guess you’re condoning Spencer’s behavior? He, along with his nit-wit twin brother Jason, should just go back to being private citizen morons instead of public official morons.

On the Right
On the Right

In no way am I condoning it. But it’s a waste of our time. Hicks will be hicks.

In 10 years, no one will be talking about this. They’ll be talking about how horse race wagering was legalized or MM was expanded. Not some idiot Georgia boy acting like an idiot Georgia boy. It doesn’t matter.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

OTR I think you’re mistakenly assuming that people (and this website) are only capable of caring about one thing at a time. It’s entirely possible to be disappointed about this slack-jawed, backwoods, hickery while not losing any ability to focus on the more pressing issues facing our state.

Calypso
Calypso

On the Right, I stand corrected about you not condoning Spencer, but I disagree with your assertion that it is a waste of our time to call him on it. Actually, it would be irresponsible of us if we didn’t do so.

Sally Forth
Sally Forth

Agreed, Calypso. And I also think there is a lesson here to be learned by some dim-wits about screenshots.

Calypso
Calypso

Thanks, Sally Forth.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Are you kidding me? Waste of time? That guy’s been fired now, and the superintendent just might have saved countless numbers of racial prejudice acts because kids (and their parents) might be led to believe this was acceptable behavior if left unchecked. This is a very big deal. Is burning a cross in someones yard no big deal? Maybe to you.

I hope we’re not talking about this in 10 years- but I bet we will be, because too many, like you, think it’s not worth paying attention to now.

Ellynn
Ellynn

The person in charge of Virtual Instruction (including content and who has access) to all Georgia public school children having a casual bent to bigotry and finding lynching as a joke worthy idea is not of value of discussion when in the next 2 to 12 years these children become voters and tax payers?

Calypso
Calypso

Thanks for posting this, Teri, even if it rankles Spencer’s boot-lickers like ‘On the Right’ seems to be.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I’m not upset about the lame jokes and the anti-Obama cartoons. I mean, what 40-something South Georgia white dude hasn’t sent one of those at some point?

I am upset that this guy is apparently too stupid to make his Facebook posts private. I mean you’re supposed to be the State’s “online education” guy… how do you screw up something that is just basic Internet knowledge? Don’t fire the guy for being a racist, fire the guy for being a moron.

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace

So many teachers, including right here in GA, have been fired for MUCH MUCH LESS.

Bart
Bart

The real question should be why the DOE hired such an idiot and pays him $138k. Right after firing this moron, whoever hired him should be next. Yet again exposes the cronyism rampant in our government hiring practices.

Calypso
Calypso

“Updated at 11:55 AM on 1/26/16: Maureen Downey reports that Jeremy Spencer is no longer employed by the DOE. From Superintendent Woods’ statement: “These posts in no way reflect my opinions, or those of the Department of Education.”

Glad to hear the imbecile has been called on the carpet about this. Good going, Mr. Woods.

Benevolus
Benevolus

One has to stand by their brother. Nothing really wrong with that. The safety net of family and friends is what enables many to carry on rather than give in to despair or defeat.

I wish he hadn’t invoked “political correctness” though. Makes the rest sound disingenuous.

Will Durant
Will Durant

Mr. Woods still has some questions to answer despite the plaudits for his quick action in the firing. With the title of Associate Superintendent this guy was at a pretty high level. Who hired him? Perhaps Mr. Woods? Was it because of his stellar qualifications for conducting online instruction or was it because of political patronage? Given his naivete of online data retention and the abject stupidity exhibited here I know which one I suspect. Keep in mind that this is not just the $138K in direct compensation but also includes benefits far beyond those that can be obtained in… Read more »

Sally Forth
Sally Forth

And this guy is an educator?? Even he should have known better. Welcome to the internet – where the men are men, women are men, and little girls are CIA agents.

Indypendant
Indypendant

I hear Brian Kemp might be looking to hire an IT guy.

And, Jason Spencer can say what he likes, but his record is more representative of Jeremy Spencer than someone who “represents all his constituents in a color blind manner”.

Calypso
Calypso

I’ve always felt sorry for the folks Rep. Jason Spencer represents.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

So Rep. Spencer is basically saying “I’m sorry that a bunch of people got offended by things my brother posted.” I get that he has to support his brother, but you can do so without coming across as if you’re blaming other people for taking his casual racism out of context.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Sorry Senator, but your brother leaving someone’s comment that Obama should be “impeached and …..” accompanied by a photo of a lynching up for a couple of months doesn’t qualify as “being taken out of context through the prism of political correctness”.

Superintendent Woods really have ought to have better screened a crony hire.

Calypso
Calypso

Yeah, Rep. (not senator) Spencer is not too good with his spin. I don’t believe he’s too good with much of anything from what I’ve seen.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Ouch on that correction. I originally wrote Jason instead of Senator. I changed to a title because I don’t know the man personally, but memory didn’t serve me well.