Aug 8 2018

Roseanne Barr loses her successful TV show after tweeting insulting comments about Valerie Jarrett.

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations and general manager Bryan Colangelo resigns from the team after his wife admits to establishing and operating anonymous Twitter accounts critical of players, league executives and releasing sensitive team information.

The New York Times faces criticism for hiring Sarah Jeong to its editorial board after tweets surface critical of white culture (she has claimed her tweets were satirical trolling, and the Times has stuck by her). In February, the Times found itself in a similar situation when it attempted to hire Quinn Norton to the editorial board, after it surfaced she had used gay and racial slurs in tweets and once supported a neo-Nazi hacker. In that case she was terminated within days.

Pitcher Josh Hader, Major League Baseball all-star, finds himself apologizing after the game as racist, homophobic and sexist tweets from his account, made when he was 17, surface and start to trend on Twitter during the game. Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner finds himself in a similar situation, apologizing to the LBGT community, African–American community, and special needs community after ugly tweets made when he was a teen come to light. Atlanta pitcher Sean Newcome also comes under fire for racist and homophobic slurs made as a teenager on the popular social media platform.

It seems almost daily there is a reminder that words and activities on social media platforms can not only have dire consequences; they also have a long half life.

Before the Information Age, it was common practice for TV stations to run a public service announcement asking if you knew where your children were in the evening. Times have changed — many children are physically on the couch or in their room, nose buried in a tablet or smartphone — but the question is still valid. Do you know where they are — on the internet? 

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever else might be the flavor of the month, keeping up with it all can be a harrowing, but necessary task. Obviously, cyberbullying is the first danger that comes to mind, Melania Trump has even made it her key initiative. But, bullying or being bullied isn’t the only concern. Just as important are what is shared and said.

It’s no secret employers and universities have begun using social media profiles to judge the character of potential hires or students. And the government has long been tracking conversations in social media to evaluate potential threats. The old adage is still true: Nothing shared online is truly private. 

By placing information out there, the user loses control over it. Many social media platforms offer delete functions, but the ability to scrub activities, embarrassing tweets and photos is questionable, at best. So much so, an industry has sprouted up around the task. 

And while a deleted post or email may not be visible, it will still exist on a company’s servers for whatever amount of time the company deems necessary. That’s one of the rights it claims in the small type when signing up. So whatever is out there is vulnerable to a security breach. Even social media posts, emails, and text messages. Even Snapchat, popular because snaps disappear after a short time, isn’t completely immune. Users can still take screenshots, and third party apps exist to allow users to save snaps. And it also allows users to save pictures and videos under a passcode.

“Being 17 years old, you know, you make stupid decisions and mistakes,” Hader said. Unfortunately, seven years later, instead of celebrating the greatest moment of his young life, he was standing before his teammates apologizing for those decisions and mistakes.

From driving, to voting, to graduating and moving on to the next stage of life, moving through the school system is all about developing and taking on new responsibilities. With “back to school” just around the corner, a little awareness should go a long way to help avoid some of those decisions and mistakes that can negatively impact lives in years to come.

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(1) comment

Jim McCarthy

Nonetheless, while some information is offensive bro learn, we are better off having it presented to us, the readers to make our own judgements. Editorial comment may be helpful on occasion. Simply because an individual dislikes an item that does not convert it to “fake.”

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