Every few months a scandal arises over social media about changes coming to the Facebook privacy settings — which end up being false 99 per cent of the time. Ultimately, what this tells us is that, like every “terms and conditions” document ever created, users have no idea what they’re agreeing to.
There’s a near-arrogance about it, that we assume massive corporations like Facebook and Google handle the billions of terabytes of information posted, published and pumped directly to and through them on a daily basis in a responsible manner.
But, this isn’t about what corporations do with user’s private information or about the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership (the trade agreement that was signed into effect last month after seven years of negotiation) that protects corporations’ rights at the expense of the consumer, especially when it comes to digital rights management. Instead, what’s important for students right now is responsible social media curation.
On Oct. 15, Vanity Fair published an article called “The Untold Story of Ermahgerd Girl”, which chronicles Maggie Goldenberger, a girl whose unfortunate photo turned into a meme, turned into an internet sensation. Now, Goldenberger has to bear the burden of notoriety, for a simple uncharacteristic photo of her holding a few copies of the Goosebumps series.
Things can be hidden on the internet, but more often or not, through indexes and crawlers, little can be deleted. What this means to you, as a student who (hopefully) has a job or career in mind in the future, is that you need to carefully police your virtual property. Yes, setting profile privacy settings is important, but furthermore, you need to conduct yourself online as if someone is always watching … because, well, someone likely is.
In fact, Workopolis reports that in a survey conducted by Jobvite about employers’ reactions to various references in a candidate’s social media profiles: “83% of employers say they are turned off by references about using illegal drugs; 71% are turned off by posts of a sexual nature; 65% are turned off by use of profanity; 61% are turned off by bad spelling or grammar; 51% are turned off by references to guns, and 47% are turned off by photos of consuming alcohol”
Does this sound like your Facebook profile photo? Or your Instagram account? Or maybe you should change the e-mail you include on resumes from firstname.lastname@example.org (the account you made when you were 12) to something more… dare I say, “employable”?
As of last weekend, a Snapchat account entitled “Brockusnaps” was made by a student, and it quickly garnered an extremely active audience. Snapchat users would snap to the account, and they would then broadcast that to their followers. Of course, within just a few days, the account was snapping nude photos, photos of students using drugs, drinking excessively, etc.
The account was deleted promptly, and disciplinary action was taken against students who were caught breaking university rules in circulated photos. Worse still is the fact that hundreds of Brock students broadcasted themselves breaking rules, breaking laws and in general, putting private things in the public eye. All it takes is a screenshot and a single poor decision made in a time of poor judgement, and the next thing you know, your face may end up on the front page of Reddit.
While some may simply dismiss all this saying that I’m a “techno-phob”, they need to understand that I’m up to date with all the latest social media trends: from Friendster and Myspace to Google Plus and Exploroo. Although, maybe it’s a result of my paranoia as an Education student, knowing full well that if and when I get an interview with a school board, the first thing opened up will likely not be my LinkedIn or educational blog, but instead my Facebook profile.
- Steve Nadon