Campus Legal: Social Media
Victoria Hayslett, Staff Writer
Sep. 18, 2013
A weekly column by Office of General Counsel Law Clerk, Victoria Hayslett, focusing on legal issues and updates for the Lubbock Christian University community.
Social Media. Pretty much everyone, from kids in elementary school to grandparents, has had some kind of experience with social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, the list goes on and on, and thanks to technology we all can access these things pretty much all the time. I personally have three social media applications on my phone right now, and two of them I use at least three times a day. As a columnist for an online newspaper, I can definitely appreciate the connectivity and ease these types of applications provide. DusterToday articles are not only uploaded onto the main DusterToday webpage, they are also on LCU’s homepage, Chaplink, and linked to by the Duster's Facebook page. There is absolutely no limit to how many people can see anything the DusterToday publishes. While this is certainly great from a journalistic standpoint, it's true about anything you put out there on the internet.
I think because it is so easy to put all our thoughts and feelings out there, sometimes we forget that it is probably just as easy for someone else to find it. What's even more important to realize is that even if you put something out there on social media and immediately regret it and delete it, that doesn't mean that it's actually gone and forgotten, just ask Anthony Weiner. All it takes is one person getting a screen grab of your tweet, post, picture, or video and even if it later gets deleted there is still proof it happened. This can be not only embarrassing, but lead to actual consequences.
Last Friday, a 15-year old boy from Louisiana was arrested after he posted a video on YouTube of himself playing a game called "The Real Strike" where he simulated shooting classmates he was frustrated with after being bullied. He now faces criminal charges for terrorizing and interference with the operation of a school, according to WAFB, the Baton Rouge (LA) CBS affiliate. That came just one week after Northwest Missouri State University faculty member Matthew Rouch was arrested after he posted on Facebook, "by October, I'll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle - with a good scope, and probably a gatlin gun as well." The Kansas City Star reports Rouch most likely won't face charges for the post, although he was put on administrative leave by the university and not allowed back onto the campus.
In late August, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a St. Louis Community College student had been arrested after tweeting about her financial aid woes. Kara Hohman was charged with peace disturbance after she tweeted she was so frustrated with the school's financial aid that she was "going to kill someone." While this might have been something Hohman tweeted in frustration and didn't actually mean, it is something police take seriously, especially since it was about a particular office. These kinds of stories are all over the internet and they seemingly happen all the time. It's not just about threats, however. Just last year two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio were charged with kidnapping and raping a teenage girl. A lot of their actions were uncovered because of texts, tweets and videos that were passed around their school.
Social media can be fun, it can be lighthearted, and an excellent distraction, but the next time you go to put something on the internet stop and think about whether or not that is something you would want immortalized forever and what the consequences might be. So, have fun, but be careful what you put out there, just make sure to post as many pictures of your puppies as possible, because those are my favorite!