By Katherine Sellgren
BBC News education reporter, Manchester
Teachers are worried by false allegations online
Pupils are inceasingly using social networking sites to bully and undermine teachers, according to claims at a teachers' union conference.
These included malicious sexual allegations against teachers.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers heard how one teacher had a fake Facebook account set up in his name containing false allegations.
Another teacher had suffered stress after a video of her teaching appeared on YouTube.
Another teacher said she knew of a group of pupils who wrote online: "Join this group if you think Mrs X is still a virgin."
A false social networking profile, opened in the name of a teacher, claimed he enjoyed "under-age sex with both boys and girls".
The ATL teachers' conference heard that while social networking was a "wonderful resource for learning", it had a sinister side which needed to be addressed.
In a survey of 630 UK teachers, the ATL found 94 said they knew of colleagues that had had a group set up to discuss or post abusive messages about them.
"A colleague I work closely with was the subject of a Facebook 'hate site' and at the time there was no school policy to deal with it," said one teacher.
"The situation I found myself in was being told a photo had been posted about me. With no access to the accounts, I had no way to get the photo removed," said another.
The survey found 40% of respondents were worried information about them on social networking sites could be used in disciplinary action.
Flattered to be 'friends'
At the union's annual conference in Manchester, delegates voted in favour of a motion to issue advice for all members on the pitfalls of social networking.
Alison Sherratt, who put forward the motion, said she was initially flattered to be "friends" with ex-pupils.
"However, it began to greatly concern me when I found requests from current pupils in school including one in Year 3.
"I finally decided to do something when a pupil revealed he had seen my Facebook page on his mum's computer - she was one of my ex-pupils. "
Ms Sherratt told delegates: "We have a right to enjoy the pleasures of using social networking sites just the same as any other person - without fear of consequences."
ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said while social networking sites could be a wonderful resource, education staff needed to be aware of the possible dangers.
"Bullying is no less serious whether it is done face to face or via a social networking site," she said.
"Schools and colleges need to have clear policies to deal with it and make sure that pupils will face appropriate punishment if they engage in any form of bullying - cyber or otherwise."
A spokeswoman for Facebook said it was important for the company that teachers and others working in education knew where they could go for information on cyberbulling and safety online.
"We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others," she said.
"Any content, such as bullying and harassment, which violates Facebook's statement of rights and responsibilities, the governing document for the site, will be removed."
A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokesman said: "This should never be tolerated. It's absolutely wrong for any teacher to face abuse and threats online or on their own mobiles. False or misleading allegations can damage or even ruin teachers' careers and discredit the whole profession.
"We've set out clear measures to deal with teachers' concerns and better protect them - working closely with unions, including ATL, and industry through our Cyberbullying Taskforce.
"We published clear guidance last year on how schools should tackle cyberbullying of staff - including the legal options open to them; protecting their own personal information online; setting out stricter rules on becoming online friends with pupils; and how to remove inappropriate material from websites."