What started out as an Internet safety lesson for fifth graders in Sumner County quickly turned into a viral sensation.
Julie Culp, a guidance counselor at Indian Lake Elementary School in Hendersonville, posted a picture of herself holding a sign that says, “I'm talking to my 5th grade students about Internet safety and how quickly a photo can be seen by lots of people. If you are reading this please click 'like.' Thanks!”
“It's really important that I get across to them before they go to middle school that when you put a photo online, it can go very quickly,” she said from her school office.
Since November 18, the photo has been shared more than 600,000 times from her Facebook page and has been the subject on national and international media outlets such as the Huffington Post and the Today Show.
“Once it left my Facebook page I lost track of it. I know there's one Facebook page that liked it and they've gotten over a million likes,” Culp said, adding, “A radio station in North Carolina posted it, and they've had three and a half million likes.”
Culp told News 2 she wants her students to understand that whatever they post on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.
Culp said she didn't post the photo anywhere other than on her Facebook page.
In the first 24 hours it had been shared 717 times, and now Culp believes the pictures has been seen by more than five million people.
Fifth graders at Indian Lake Elementary School, the intended audience, told News 2 they got the message.
“They don't think of it and it just goes all over the place,” said 10-year-old Mary Grace Foulke. “People can post it and comment on it or like it all over the state or even out of the country.”
“I think the amount of people that see what you post is so astronomical. Who knows?” said fifth grader Elijah Golden.
“If you get jobs, they're going to check your Facebook, your Twitter, anything you have,” he added.
Culp doesn't know how the photo was shared so quickly, but told News 2 it might have had something to do with how people want children to be safe online.
“I didn't really do anything to make it happen. I think it was the educators, the teachers, that jumped on board and said, 'This is important and it is something we need to talk about,'” she said.