As college students, most of us of are aware of what Facebook is. For many of us, Facebook has become an addiction. Many students tend to log on to Facebook several times a day were as others log on every so often. We can’t wait to see who has “friended” us, left a message on our wall, talked to friends at different colleges, or posted pictures of fun times. When we post pictures or write on someone’s wall, we don’t stop to think that our parents, school officials or future employers will see them.Facebook is designed specifically for college students and only those with a college e-mail address can join. This includes all faculty and staff of a college or university. Campus Police and other school officials have been known to go on Facebook and look at students’ profiles to find who they are associated with, what people write on their walls and what pictures they have posted. An example of this was shown in an article in the January 20, 2006 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Think Before You Share”. Last October an incident occurred after a football game at Ohio State University against Penn State University. A week later police got an unexpected tip and went on Facebook and found a group that linked them to everyone else involved in the incident. They not only had names but pictures as well. The Penn State students felt as though their privacy was invaded.
Chief Michael D. Bicking, Director of Public Safety for West Chester University, talked about his experiences using Facebook. The only time he has used Facebook involved an incident with a student where he used Facebook to find out more information that would help the investigation. By using Facebook, he was able to find additional information and get to the bottom of the situation. Other than that incident he does not go on Facebook randomly looking at students’ profile. He did, however, state that students need to be careful what pictures they post and what they say.
As many students know, the University is a dry campus which means that consumption or evidence of alcohol is not allowed anywhere on campus which includes inside residence halls, at campus events, or in the Village and South Campus Apartments. This rule applies to all students whether they are of legal age or not. Information obtained from students living in the Village at West Chester showed that judicials are issued by the University based on pictures obtained from Facebook.
The article in The Chronicle of Higher Education also stated that more and more administrators have seen students put surprising amounts of personal data online thanks to the growing popularity of blogging. The good thing about Facebook is that the information can only be seen by college students, faculty and staff. That is not the case with other sites such as MySpace.com and Friendster.com which can be seen by anyone.