Q: The recent headline about students who had been accepted to prestigious colleges and then had their acceptance rescinded because of unacceptable content on their social media sites has gotten a lot of attention. What are your suggestions for students, or anyone else, on content to avoid putting on social media sites?
A: The students who had their acceptance rescinded have learned a hard lesson. Hopefully, others will see what has happened and learn from it.
First of all, regardless of your settings, what you put on social media is not private. Your content can be grabbed and shared with all sorts of people without your permission. So, if you wouldn’t publish it in a national newspaper or wouldn’t want a potential boss to see it, don’t put it on social media. What you put out there in cyberspace lasts forever.
Social media can be a great tool for marketing, sharing your family photos with others and staying in touch with people you wouldn’t normally see. It has opened up our communication streams like never before. But when you rant about politics, post vulgar content or respond in a nasty way to what someone else has written, you are putting yourself and your reputation at risk.
If you are the kind of person who only posts things about yourself, never responding, “liking” or sharing things that other people post can suggest that you are a bit self-centered. Step away and look at your posts from another person’s point of view. There is definitely a pattern that emerges about an individual based on what they post.
For those students applying for college or for anyone looking for a job, take a long look at your social media sites. You need to be attentive to what others are posting, too. Some of your friends’ posts can give the wrong impression about you, too.
Social media are the new resume for some people. The recent situation has proven that colleges are looking and taking very seriously what you post. Potential employers are doing the same. My advice is if you wouldn’t put it on your resume, don’t put it on social media!
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to email@example.com.