Be careful with the Facebook, folks

Sorting through a bunch of old email, I came across this article that Nick Carbone posted to WPA-L Mailing List: “When students open up– a little too much” from The Boston Globe. The Facebook, of course, is an online directory/social exchange forum for college students. But to be honest, I don’t know a whole lot more than that, mainly because I’m not a college student any longer and I don’t know if it’d be a good idea for me to set up an account where I’m pretending to be a student. Though that might be kind of a fun thing to do.

Anyway, back to the point here: this article is just another example of how students need to be careful about what they say about themselves on the ‘net because what you say might get back to the wrong audience. Here are the opening paragraphs of this article:

Last school year, Brandeis University junior Emily Aronoff tapped this sentiment into a computer: ”I enjoy the festive greens.”

The reference to marijuana became part of her profile on facebook.com, the online student catalogue that allows Aronoff and tens of thousands of collegians to share photos and idiosyncratic odds and ends of their lives, intended for viewing by other students.

But others were reading as well — including ”an individual in the community,” she said, who shared the reference with her parents in Marietta, Ga. Eventually, word reached her grandmother.

”My bubbe,” she said, using the Yiddish word for grandmother, ”told me her seniors home was abuzz with the news, and I was like: ‘I hate the Facebook.’

The article also has a nice quote from a communications professor named Steve Jones: “I would put money on a political candidate — probably 20 years from now — getting in hot water on account of something posted on Facebook.” I think Jones is right, and I would extend this to the kinds of things that students put up on web sites, too. In one of my classes the other day, a student asked if he could put anything he wanted on the web site he (and all the other students) are creating for the class. I said that he could, but I also pointed out that it could come back to haunt him later on. I think I might post a link to this article to my class blog….

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