Be Smart When Facebook-ing

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Feb 012007
 
Authors: Kaitlin Snook

Facebook: It’s been everywhere lately – in RamTalk, in the comics, on the news, and currently right in front of my face. It’s become a daily staple in students’ lives, and who can be surprised? With accessible Internet almost everywhere you turn, it’s hard not to crave logging on to this social database that’s been referred to more than once as “a stalker’s wet dream.”

Not that I’m judging. I’m as bad as the rest of ’em. I’m ashamed to admit I have spent hours searching groups, gawking at couples with newly added relationships, checking every new photo added, and even, at my lowest of lows, playing the Facebook friend game.

So, what’s the harm in all this? Not only does it distract us from homework and studying, it can be accessed from classrooms all over campus with one simple click on the university’s wireless internet connection. Even in times of stress, like now, merely a few hours from my deadline, I’m still Facebooking.

Employers are using Facebook as a tool to perform background checks on possible soon-to-be employees, coaches are using it as a way to keep track of their teams, and most recently, six athletes from Colorado-Boulder were booted from the track and field team after posting photos of themselves in “mock sexual positions” and partying in CU Buffs athletic uniforms while toasting with what appeared to be alcohol.

It’s not really a surprise the decision made by CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn has made news headlines and is causing uproar on Colorado campuses. But is the decision a fair one?

Should students’ personal Web sites be subject for search when it comes to school, athletics and employment? Many argue that a person’s private profile, found on sites like MySpace and Facebook should be just that: private.

Well, I’ve got news for you, folks – very little on the internet is ever private. And, with hundreds of colleges and millions of students participating in the Facebook/MySpace phenomenon, how are we supposed to hide our so-called private lives from the many stalkers out there? Facebook now has options letting you control who can and can’t view your profile, and who is allowed only limited access to your information.

But isn’t the point of sites like Facebook to meet new people and catch up with old friends lost? How can you do that when your profile is so private people can’t even find you when looking through a friend’s friend list or searching for your name?

It’s not fair the athletes at CU lost their probably hard-earned spots on the track and field team just for having inappropriate pictures on their Web pages. But be smart. Make your profile private to unknown viewers and screen your pages at least enough to know you aren’t doing something that’s against university policy. You wouldn’t want strangers finding these things out about you, so what makes you think coaches are any different?

Kaitlin Snook is a junior technical journalism major. Her column appears every Friday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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