By Tony Espinal
How many people think about the consequences of posting online?
Protecting one’s reputation is becoming the most important digital security measure people take in today’s world. Personal pictures and other incriminating information may only be a few clicks away. With the creation of social media and other Internet posting sites, everyone has a responsibility to not only protect his or her own digital reputation, but also to consider the potential consequences of personal posts.
Most people have a Facebook account and, at one point or another, have seen a person post something inappropriate.
Once words and images are posted, the whole world can see them. These posts become a part of people’s identities, and these posts can be very damaging, especially when looking for work. In October 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported employers were checking social media profiles as part of their pre-screening process. Peter Maulik of the company Fahrenheit 212, told the newspaper he made hiring decisions based on what he discovered about candidates on Twitter and LinkedIn. Maulik said these posts gave him insight into what kind of people he was considering for his team.
But caution online isn’t only about protecting one’s reputation for prospective employers. People should think about the potential consequences of posting videos and pictures of other people on these sites. Such posts may inadvertently cost a friend a job, the respect of his or her peers, embarrassment or a constant painful memory.
In 2008, eight teens were arrested for beating another teen. They filmed the beating and then posted the video on the Internet. This year three teens from Steubenville, Ohio were prosecuted for sexually assaulting a young girl who had been drinking at a party. They videotaped the assault and showed it to their friends at school.
Even here on Butler’s campus, inappropriate posts now become a part of student identities. Back in 2011, The Collegian reported on a Facebook event called “Roofies and Randos,” where students would arrive at parties and receive the drug from Pez dispensers.
The event was reported to have been an inside joke between friends. However, once again, the dangers of posting without thinking took their toll. The event spread across Facebook, and eventually the university got involved. These students, in the name of a prank, were publicly embarrassed and investigated for their incredibly offensive inside joke.
“It’s making me look like a bad person,” said one of the perpetrators to The Collegian.
The damage goes even further.
The Collegian also reported one of the students was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Now, the fraternity’s reputation may have been damaged by an event in which it had no part.
I try never to judge because we all make mistakes. However, even though I have never met the individuals involved, it’s hard to get past reading about the incident. That is how far-reaching these consequences can be.
Now I probably know what you are thinking: those were crimes and my pictures are just of just me having fun.
True. However, think about what those online videos have done to these victims. What was done to them was posted on the Internet and has become a part of their identity. Hopefully, one day, it will all be a distant memory for them, but it doesn’t change that this incident may be a part of each relationship those people may ever encounter. Imagine if you and your friends had been those students explaining their “inside joke.”
So, the next time you’re taking incriminating pictures of your friends or feel like posting explicit posts on your social media sites, take a second to stop and think about the damage you could potentially be causing yourself or the people you care about.