Students holding red cups or cigars and standing with half-opened, red eyelids is not an uncommon sight on Facebook.
With employees using networking Web sites as an applicant research tool, students should be aware that legal liability does not exist on social networking sites, said Patricia Abril, assistant professor of Business Law.
Abril, who researched Internet privacy after receiving complaints from students, said that although pictures can be removed from Web sites, the person with ownership of the pictures can still upload them again.
“The digital form is permanent,” Abril said. “It’s not only what you do online, it’s also what you do offline.”
Abril also noted that social networking sites that promote security with just a “.edu” address can be deceptive. Anyone may have access to a “.edu” address, including interns. Employers can have their interns research applicants, Abril said.
“It really is a false sense of security that they’re offering students,” Abril said, also noting, “whatever is out there is out there.”
Incriminating information can also pose a threat to unemployed students. Images may be brought to the attention of Dean of Students Ricardo D. Hall by faculty, staff and students.
Hall said that anonymous links to Facebook pages usually occur during Greek Rush and recruitment. Still, students will only be investigated if they violate the code of conduct as stated in the Students Rights and Responsibilities handbook.
“What you’re putting out there is what you should want an employer to see,” said Hall.
Although Abril warns of the negative aspects of social networking sites, Abril also said they can “promote a great opportunity for creating many students’ identities.”
Hall said that during the Virginia Tech tragedy, Facebook was beneficial in posting responses and feedback among campuses nationwide.
With employers and school administrators keeping watch, some students said they are cautious when using Facebook or MySpace.
“I’m very conscious about everything that goes on my Facebook because I know that I can’t control who sees it,” said senior Fatima Reynolds. “This is basically the impression people are going to get of me.”
Analisa Harangozo may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.