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HSFPP Update # 209 — Be Careful What You Post on the Internet
Message from Flashman: Maybe you have gotten the message that e-mails are not secure and that you shouldn’t count on them remaining private. But what about social networking sites? Surely you can expect some privacy there, right?
Wrong. Just like you should already be doing with e-mails, never put anything on your site that you would not want your mother to see or read. Many workers have been fired because of e-mails they sent on business computers, some because they included derogatory statements about their bosses, co-workers, or their company, and some because they were inappropriate in some other way. And now we have had case after case of people being fired or not being offered a job because of what they had posted on MySpace or Facebook. Some colleges check social networking sites, too. Students would do well to remove inappropriate Web postings or risk not getting accepted by the college of their choice.
Whether you think this is fair or not, we all have to accept the reality that our communications are being watched and can get us into hot water if we aren’t careful.
Academic Expectation 2.37
Students demonstrate skills and work habits that lead to success in future schooling and work.
Academic Expectation 1.4
Students make sense of the various messages to which they listen.
Academic Expectation 1.2
Students make sense of the variety of materials they read.
Web Site Pick of the Week:
In the New$... A Word of Advice: Be Careful What You Post on the Internet
by Denisha White, undergraduate student in social work at the University of Kentucky
Many young people have Facebook and MySpace accounts. Unfortunately, not all of them take into account who could be looking at their Web pages. According to John Hechinger of the Wall Street Journal Online, “A new survey of 500 top colleges found that 10% of admissions officers acknowledged looking at social-networking sites to evaluate applicants. Of those colleges making use of the online information, 38% said that what they saw ‘negatively affected’ their views of the applicant.”
So maybe you think that only 10 percent of admissions officers is no big deal and you have nothing to worry about. But what if the college or university you are applying for uses Web searches to evaluate potential students? Even if they don’t normally check, they sometimes receive tips that an applicant has inappropriate information on the Web, and they must check to make sure a potential student will not bring unwelcome attention to their school.
There is a debate over whether this information should be used. The fact that the information is made public leads some to say it should certainly be used to make sure a student will not embarrass the institution. Others say they are uncomfortable looking at teen Web pages or that they don’t have the time to look.
Web users can set their own profile and post pictures and information as they see fit. They could, if they choose, set a private profile so their site will be available only to friends; however, even so, their information could still get out. Suppose that you and your friends are passing these pictures around and one gets where you can be found and identified by someone outside your crowd. That person could be an admissions officer.
According to Hechinger, “High-school guidance counselors advise applicants, even if they restrict public access on their sites, to refrain from including anything that could hurt them in college admissions. They especially caution against foul or offensive language, nudity, or photos of drinking and drug use.”
As an example of the kinds of trouble you can get into with your site, check the case of former University of Texas backup center Buck Burnette. Because he included a racial slur about President-Elect Obama on his Facebook page, he had to delete his page and suffer the consequences; he was kicked off the team. (You should know that the consequences of this kind of action could be much worse.)
Besides risking your college status, you could lose out on a job offer or be fired for what you say online. So if you want to get into that prestigious college or land that dream job, be careful what information you put on social networking sites for people to see.
Sources: (1) Hechinger, John. (2008, September 26). College Applicants, Beware: Your Facebook Page Is Showing. The Wall Street Journal Online. Found on: Yahoo! Finance. http://finance.yahoo.com/college-education/article/105851/College-Applicants,-Beware:-Your-Facebook-Page-Is-Showing
(2) Halliburton, Suzanne. (2008, November 6). Burnette Apologizes to Teammates for Facebook Incident [Updated with father’s comments]. The Austin [TX] American-Statesman. http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/longhorns/entries/2008/11/06/burnette_ousted.html?loc=interstitialskip
- Do you have a Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking account? If so, why did you decide to get one?
- Do you think you have material on your page that could affect your chances of being accepted into college? If you think it will affect your chances, would you take it down?
- If you don’t have a Facebook or MySpace account, why have you not gotten one?
- Do you think colleges and employers should accept you for admission or a job based on your Web page? Why or why not?
Pretend that you are an employer and take a look at your own Web page. Would you give yourself the job based on information on your page?
Kentucky High School Financial Planning Program
The purpose of the HSFPP financial updates, video lessons, and Web site is to assist county Extension agents, credit union educators, high school teachers, and parents who home school their teenagers so that they may improve the economic well-being of our teenagers; and also to show educators how the HSFPP, updates, and video lessons meet Kentucky core concepts. The Web site, updates, and video lessons are provided by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, and are free to all educators. The list of core concepts and order form for free program materials including the student guide and instructors manual can be found on the Kentucky HSFPP home page.
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The video lessons are available only to members of our listserv and will not be posted to the HSFPP Web site because of the timeliness of the information. If you would like to receive our video lessons, which are sent to our listserv biweekly, on alternate weeks from these updates, please sign up at the following page of our Web site: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/fcs/HSFP/response.htm