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About a year ago, I was studying at a university. I had a subject with a tutor; since my family moved to a different city, I also moved to a different university and discontinued my studies at my former university.

I do not use my real name at Facebook for obvious reasons that we all know. In a public group in Facebook about ancient Iran, I posted an article and the tutor I had at my former university commented that my real name is something else: he also mentioned that I discontinued my studies at the former university: he also mentioned that I did not attend his classes.

Is not this abusing my privacy? He could sent me a private message if he wanted. To be honest, I am offended and want to make an official complaint to my former university. So I want to know if his act is indeed abusing my privacy and what is the best thing to do?

I also should mention that I sent him a private message on Facebook and asked him that one should respect indivisul's privacy in the hope that he will delete his comment but he did not.

His Exact comments were:

Sorry for interrupting mate. I just visited your profile which shows you reside in somecountry. Just would like to know if your real surname is somename. If so, I reckon you were my student in tutorial sessions in Engineering Mechanics in UTS ayear ago; However, you stopped attending the sessions after the first few ones.

  • Have you actually lied for any of these things on your Facebook page (saying that you graduated from this university, when you were not)? If so, starting a war might backfire – Alexandros Jun 23 '14 at 13:26
  • Is the tutor an employee of your former university? – scaaahu Jun 23 '14 at 13:29
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    There is probably no case on the real name being leaked, because it's hard to defend that you put your own picture on expecting someone who knows you to be smart enough to see through your grand plan. (You may, however, faked that your picture was stolen and cancel the account.) The part that the TA disclosed your academic record, maybe, you can look into FERPA regulations. But I'd just communicate first, he may not have any malicious meaning, and just wanted to have a friendly reconnection. – Penguin_Knight Jun 23 '14 at 14:11
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    @Penguin_Knight: Australia seems safely outside of FERPA's jurisdiction, though perhaps they have some equivalent down there. (Even so, in my opinion trying to pursue this formally at the university level is probably not the way to go.) – Pete L. Clark Jun 23 '14 at 15:48
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    @Penguin_Knight There is definitely no case on the real name being leaked, because it's against Facebook's terms of service to use a fake one. – Federico Poloni Jun 24 '14 at 6:44
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I am not a lawyer, and I am not giving you legal advice. If you are in the US, you can view this matter from the Family Education Rights and Policy Act (FERPA):

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

Here are the key issues that should be considered:

1) FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

2) Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record.

If this person published your name AND gave details of your educational record, then I think you have a legitimate complaint, provided that the tutoring was a service of the university. If you hired this person privately or joined a group that was not formally affiliated with the university, then the university will not pay attention to this complaint.

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I would only mirror some of the answers already provided - one of them asking if the tutor is an employee of the univiersity. If so, there may be a violation, however if you disclosed elsewhere online you are/were a student at the university, then there may not be - even if the tutor was an employee. The fact you discontinued studies from a non-employee would not be a violation of privacy as well. Typically, as long as its something private you made public, then the expectation of privacy is waived.

I assure you, the internet is not a pretty place. Watch what you disclose online. Wish you the best in any event and since this implicates a legal issue, no answer than an answer by an attorney is an attorney you'd want to trust.

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