Don't Get Burned in Cabo: Sensible Social Media

Posted: April 20, 2015


Have you heard about this high school girl in Florida who was so naked on Spring Break that the cops tracked her down? Many drunk. Such waste. Wow. When photos from Panama City, showing her wearing nothing but Mardi Gras beads, were posted on Twitter, the photos went viral and someone asked Florida police to find her to make sure she was okay. (She was.)

The point here has nothing to do with Spring Break and everything to do with social media. Posting pictures of yourself (or friends) doing things that are illegal (underage drinking is a crime), immoral, or otherwise showing spectacularly bad judgment can lead to repercussions so much worse than a four-day hangover and an STD. Yes, you want to share your good times with friends who couldn't be there, but what happens on the internet, stays on the internet. When the time comes to apply for college admissions--for undergrad or for grad school--you, doing keg stands or half-naked with a red cup in your hand, is not the picture you want admissions officers or job recruiters to see. 


Four Rules for Social Media:
  1. Have a good time, but don't document every minute of it. "You were so drunk" stories are better without hard evidence.
  2. Shut down your privacy settings. Your photo shared with "friends of friends" may as well be public.
  3. Don't friend people in the college admissions office on social media. It doesn't endear you to them and you're basically inviting them to look at all your photos, even the dirty funny ones you wouldn't show your mom.
  4. Watch what you say on Twitter. Even if you don't tag or shout out to a college in your drunk tweets, if you do so after a campus visit or to show off an achievement, they can and will scan your whole timeline. Assume everything you tweet will be seen by your grandmother.

And The One Rule for regular media on Spring Break:
  1. If you see a camera or microphone, run the other direction. The media is at Spring Break for one reason: to document your foolishness for. all. time. Let some other kid jump in that meat grinder.
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The Bottom Line: Never assume that once you've been accepted at a college you're home free. Students have lost athletic scholarships and admissions offers when the schools found pictures of drunken graduation parties or offensive memes on private group chat. Deleting pictures is no guarantee they haven't gotten out and won't go viral some day. (Like when you're famous, maybe?) Control your image, even when you're a little out-of-control.

UPDATE: 5/26/15
Not only could your pictures be seen by admissions officers, future bosses and other strangers, but those strangers might take your images and sell them for $90,000 without even asking your permission. An artist named Richard Prince took screen shots from Instagram, blew them up poster-sized and then sold them for $90K each. How's that for creepy? I don't think I could be as cool with it as doedeere.

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