Minors encouraging underage perjury in Atlanta school beating case . . . more examples of how users consider Facebook “private”

I have a love-hate-but-mostly-love relationship with Facebook. Eventually, I want to post here about my absurd number of network contacts.

But as an occasional teacher of journalism courses and as someone who with more than a passing interest in issues of new media, social networking, and so-called citizen journalism, I’m constantly following news about Facebook, Twitter, and other less-used sites.

Check out this from the AJC today: School officials to investigate Facebook posts on Westlake beating. So there was a brutal beating a few days ago at a high school; the school responded seemingly poorly to the incident; and now students sympathetic to those arrested are encouraging others to lie to investigators — and they’re encouraging those lies in the most public ways possible:

[Fulton County schools spokesperson Samantha] Evans said school officials were previously unaware of many of the Facebook postings following Monday’s assault of the 16-year-old junior.

They learned of the threatening posts, which were contained within multiple threads discussing the assault, from a Channel 2 Action News reporter, who showed them to officials on Friday. After reviewing the threads, Evans said the school system planned to dispatch added security personnel to Westlake when classes resume Monday.

In one thread, a sister of one of the suspects encourages her sibling’s friends to provide statements to investigators.

“Give his sister a call because she need for u all [to] give a statement saying that [her brother] was defending himself and that [a second suspect] had nothing to do with it,” wrote one friend, who provided the sister’s phone number.