Social Media: Is Your Student's Reputation Protected or in Peril?

Vulgar, Offensive, Explicit.

Student postings that start out as attention-getters in the exciting world of social media can have career and legal ramifications that last well beyond the college years. 

Even mild offenses or postings by someone else can come back to haunt a student. Words and images that seem funny at the time can turn out to be anchors in a student's career path. They don't go away.

Unknown to most social media users, ninety percent of their communication may be available to the rest of the world and stored forever.

Unflattering Facebook photos, rants on blogs, copyright infringements on Twitter and inaccurate information on LinkedIn can damage a student's reputation. Even something as simple as a "Like" on someone else's Facebook can have long-lasting effects.

Underestimating Digital Dust  
Because of its ease of use and ability to reach a multitude of people, social media is a powerful communications tool in which users may feel insulated or trust they have online anonymity. But these are misperceptions.

For students seeking employment, social media can make or break a candidate. Recent surveys indicate that half to three-quarters of employers and corporate recruiters use search engines to investigate candidates. Consequently, a senior who thought his/her freshman postings were deleted long ago may be surprised to see they resurfaced years later.

Legally, students can have problems as well. Individuals have been held liable for commentary and images that infringe copyrights or are defamatory, proprietary, libelous or obscene.

With so much at stake, what can a student do?

Be Smart 
It is easy to get caught up in having multiple social media sites. Pick a few and use them wisely. Think before posting!

Use Privacy Settings 
Pay attention to issues of security but don't get blindsided in believing your postings and identity are hidden.

Find Your Footprints 
Do a web search on yourself and see what comes up. Hopefully, the results will be good. If not, repair your reputation. There are professionals who specialize in this field.

Don�t Share Passwords
Be wary of hackers and individuals who attempt to access your information and accounts for purposes of online identity theft or other antics.

Pick Friends Carefully
As the saying goes, people are known by the company they keep. Consider the positive and negative effects of having an association with someone or with an organization.

Stay in Control
Don't allow others to tag you in photos without your permission. In addition, monitor comments on your site and block problem people if needed. Your reputation belongs to you. Guard it!

Be Yourself and Don't Lie
Misrepresenting yourself or your credentials is a huge mistake. Don't be naive in thinking you won't get caught.

Know the Law
infringe copyrights or post material perceived to be defamatory, proprietary, libelous or obscene.

Respect Others
Treat people like you want to be treated–everyone wins that way.

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