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Fife headteacher’s Twitter account targeted by “malicious act”

Queen Anne High headteacher Ruth McFarlane has called in police.
Queen Anne High headteacher Ruth McFarlane has called in police.

A Fife headteacher whose Twitter account was targeted by hackers has suggested her experience has served as a “harsh reminder” of the challenges social media poses people of all ages.

Ruth McFarlane, headteacher of Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline, revealed that she has been forced to close down her account after links to two pornographic pictures were apparently “liked” on her personal Twitter feed.

Ms McFarlane, who was formerly rector at Glenrothes High School, took action after being alerted to the situation and stressed that police were now looking into the matter.

“This is a malicious act that is being investigated thoroughly and I am sorry for the distress it may have caused,” she told The Courier.

“We have reported the incident to Police Scotland and deactivated the account until the matter can be fully investigated.

“It is infuriating social media accounts can be hacked in this way, especially when security measures are in place.

“Social media is a part of modern day life but the events over the last few days serve as a harsh reminder of the challenges it brings for us all.

Ruth McFarlane.
Ruth McFarlane.

“It’s vital to stay vigilant, check and change security regularly and report any incidents so we can help make it a safer environment for everyone.”

Ms McFarlane’s previous Twitter account was relatively modest, with just 26 followers, but it appears someone somewhere has deliberately targeted her by hacking into her posts.

The two offending “liked” posts, which showed graphic sexual images, appeared in the midst of other posts on her Twitter feed commending certain Queen Anne High pupils for sporting or academic achievements.

News of police involvement comes after the issue was highlighted by a relative of a pupil at Queen Anne High who claimed the “inappropriate” images on the Twitter account were being circulated widely.

As a concerned uncle with a nephew in her school I am horrified at what I’ve seen,” he said.

“After looking at who she follows and her messages it is very clear that there are other Fife deputy heads whom she follows also with ‘open’ Twitter accounts. Is this appropriate?

“Should pupils really be seeing the personal accounts of these teachers?”

All teachers in Scotland have been issued with professional guidance on the use of social media by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, noting that the likes of Twitter and Facebook can often enhance classroom practice.

It noted that while the majority of people do so without encountering any difficulties, teachers must be aware of the many challenges and ramifications associated with electronic communication.

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