In recent years, the networking site MySpace has become an online home to millions of American pre-teens, teenagers, and college students. It seems that nearly everyone under the age of 25 has joined in the cultural phenomenon, by creating a personal profile, taking online surveys and making MySpace friends. Although use of the site has become almost a rite of passage for America’s youth, there are other users most people generally would not expect to be on the site — namely, the police and private companies.The presence of these entities is problematic because MySpace offers its users the opportunity to post pictures. Although most users are intelligent with their use of this service, many others seem to think it is a great idea to post pictures proving how much they can drink, how many drugs they do or how many other cool illegal activities they participate in. Given that both the police and potential employers are surveying MySpace for criminal and socially unacceptable behavior, anyone involved in this practice should reconsider their actions.
Online pictures can provide some very incriminating evidence for drug abuse, vandalism, and underage drinking. Indeed, many college students have gone to court over charges stemming from MySpace pictures of illegal activity. This policing has enraged some users of the site, who have complained about the “violation” of their “privacy rights.” Yet users are foolish to believe that there is any privacy to be found on these online networking sites. By posting information online, one is more or less putting up a personal billboard. Anything posted there can and probably will be seen by just about anyone who cares to look — including authorities looking for evidence.
In addition to the police’s use of MySpace, employers have also been using the networking site as a quick and convenient background check. Potential employers are able to see images of deviant behavior, including rounds of beer pong or marijuana use, and can immediately disqualify potential employees from their positions simply because of how they’ve portrayed themselves online.
Given the problems associated with web sites, he bottom line is this — MySpace, and other social networking web sites, must be used responsibly. When posting information online, young people must consider the possibility that the people they’d least like to see their information can and will see it. Accordingly, these users should not portray themselves as drunks unless they want to be treated by employers and the police as such.
Courtesy of: University of Conneticute and The Daily Campus.