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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Filter your foul Facebooking

Six years before Krystal Ball — the Democratic challenger for a congressional seat in Virginia — ran for office, she was at a party. She was wearing a Santa hat, sexy attire and holding a sex toy. Pictures were taken. Nobody thought twice about it. But six years later, she lost (64 percent to 35 percent) to Republican Robert Wittman, in part because these pictures surfaced during her campaign.

The pictures that undid Ball are relatively tame compared to some that many of us have on our Facebook pages. Whether you plan on being a politician or don’t think pictures of you could ever harm your reputation, you must consider the consequences just one picture can have on your career.

If I’m an employer and you’re looking for a job, you’d better watch those photos posted of you passed out on the hood of your car. If I’m a judge and you’re in my courtroom, you’d better hope you didn’t post anything incriminating. If I’m your grandmother and I just got a Facebook profile, you’d better pray the first thing I see isn’t a picture of you flipping off the camera as you piss on a police car.

In the past couple of years, social media has evolved far beyond its original purpose. Facebook and other sites now double as a character reference, a court witness, a provider of incriminating evidence and an employee selector. In the last year, Twitter has been the source of a wide variety of controversial situations, ranging from tweets being the cause for a mistrial, to the incriminating postings from a Rutgers University freshman related to his roommate’s sexual orientation.

One quick look into your online life — Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or any other social networking site — can instantly and quite often unfairly paint you as a rogue citizen. It’s up to you to not let that happen. So everybody, have some sense, please.

Objective number one: Crank up those privacy settings. Don’t think any number of people aren’t looking at your profile, going through your posting history and pictures to find something they don’t like, something that would eliminate you from what they are looking for, something that could land you in jail if you find yourself on the wrong side of the courtroom.

Objective number two: Don’t post, photograph or be associated with anything that your grandma, my grandma and everybody’s great grandparents wouldn’t approve of. For our purposes, let us assume that these grandparents are the old school, serious, no messing around type.

Objective number three: If you happen to do something that you shouldn’t be doing, like marijuana, cocaine or stealing a police vehicle, do yourself the favor of not bragging about it on Facebook via images and status updates. The quickest way to wipe that smirk off your face is to share it with the whole world, including the authorities.

As we leave college and move onto bigger forums, greater risk is naturally involved with troubling online activity. Do not underestimate the power the Internet has to instantly change perceptions of once-respected people. If you happen to upset someone, don’t be surprised if a Craigslist ad pops up in your name soliciting prostitution. The Web is as much your enemy’s best weapon as it is your friend; tread carefully.

Such repercussions abound and are often unknown by many of us in the ever-evolving social media dynamic within our society. As new as these technologies are, so is our naiveté for proper use and protocol with these new tools of communication. With every advance comes opportunity, not only for greater communication and access, but for greater consequence to those who use it irresponsibly.

 

 — Brett Haupt is a journalism junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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