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Facebook and the college student

What would you do if someone you didn’t know knew specific incriminating details about you? And what if that person was someone as important as the dean of your school, a police officer or your potential employer?

The reality is that all those juicy details are available on most people’s Facebook pages.

With over 42 million active users on Facebook and over 200,000 new registrations per day so far in 2007, the privacy factor is becoming a common misconception.

The posted information on your Facebook page can often be abused because anyone can then use it however they please. It has become common knowledge that university administration, law enforcement, employers, the military, athletic associations and scholarship committees have snooped on students for their own reasons.

According to its website, more than half of Facebook users are outside of college and the fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older. This can only mean that users must begin to use more caution in what they post on their profile.

Students from California to New York have experienced the detrimental effects that posted material can have if in certain hands.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, student Mike Turk faced a possible expulsion from Southern Illinois University after he dedicated a Facebook page to claims of an intimate relationship with a woman. When the woman saw the page, she went to authorities and the page was permanently taken down.

At Louisiana State University two male swimmers were kicked off their team after they posted negative comments about their coach on Facebook.

Cameron Walker, a sophomore at Fisher College in Boston, organized a student petition dedicated to getting a campus police guard fired and posted it on Facebook. Another student informed school officials, who logged on and interpreted the comments as threatening, consequently expelling Walker.

According to Facebook, more than 14 million photos are uploaded daily, allowing multiple levels in which one can incriminate oneself.

Brad Davis was a first-year at Emory in Atlanta when he and friends honored a night of drinking by posting photos of themselves in their dorm and created a Facebook group about it. A dorm adviser subsequently saw the photos and reported them. The school ordered Davis and his friends to hang anti-drinking posters on their walls, and a citation went on their records.

On a more serious charge, a University of New Hampshire student got a temporary restraining order against another student who combined an image of her face with an explicit photo of another woman’s body, then posted the composite on his Facebook page.

With dangers and risks coming from all ends of the spectrum, students around the country are dealing with its consequences, which is why maintaining an appropriate Facebook profile is of the utmost importance.

Don’t get caught with your virtual pants down.

Information obtained through facebook.com, lexis-nexis academic, usatoday.com, cbsnews.com and msnbc.com.

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