Facebook Impacting Your Future

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Next time you log onto Facebook, make sure you change your name, lock your photos, and hide your wall-posts.

What happens when free speech isn’t really free? Most people think saying what they want on Facebook is a First Amendment right, but the consequences for it can be anything from a simple suspension from school to being fired from a high end job.

Many argue that what you chose to post on your Facebook shouldn’t affect your job, while others feel that where an opinion is expressed is insubstantial if that message is inappropriate.

June Talvitie-Siple, a high-school teacher in Cohasset, Massachusetts, was fired last year after posting that her sick students were “germ bags” on Facebook. Deemed inappropriate by school officials, Talvitie-Siple’s post may not have been the crudest, but she realizes her mistake and hopes others can learn from her.

“I take full responsibility for my stupidity and I hope it serves as an example to kids that they need to be very, very vigilant about their privacy,” she advises.

However, Talvitie-Siple is not the only one whose online social life had an effect career-wise. This controversy over free speech and Facebook is firing more people than Donald Trump.

While it may seem ridiculous that a name as innocent as “germ bags” could get someone fired, according to Jonathan Ezor, when you’re on the opposite side of the issue, you think differently.

“When you badmouth your boss and the boss is hearing, whether you’re doing it online or at the coffee maker, the boss isn’t going to be happy,” explains Ezor, “The fact that it’s online makes it more findable.”

After Penn State’s Daily Collegian columnist Zach Good was fired for posting something inappropriate, his editor in chief, Erin James, had no pity.

“Anyone has the right to free speech. No one has the right to be employed at a newspaper. That is a privilege,” said James.

Your job isn’t the only reason to hide your online social life; colleges are on the prowl, and they are looking for any reason not to admit students. During the college search process, many college admissions officers don’t admit students based on their online life.

Jeff Olson, the head of research at Kaplan’s test-preparation division, compares our early stage of new technology as “the Wild, Wild West.” Olson feels that “there are no clear boundaries or limits.”

On the other hand, admissions staff at the State University of New York at Binghamton are instructed to ignore Facebook. “At this age, the students are still experimenting,” said Sandra Starke, vice provost for enrollment management. “It’s a time for them to learn. It’s important for them to grow. We need to be careful how we might use Facebook.”

But, to most colleges, everything is fair game, and students are playing along. By changing their names on Facebook or deactivating accounts, students hope to outsmart the admissions officers.

“I think it would be stupid not to change your name,” said VHS Junior Christine Farawell, “I’m not risking my chances of getting into a good college over a picture [on Facebook].”

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