Ask any college student and they will tell you that they have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. They love how it lets them connect with friends all over the world but hates how it seemingly devours their time. However, the scale seems to tip more towards the hate side, as it is now responsible for landing more and more students in sticky situations with the school and the law.
Many teens say they know someone who has landed in trouble for a Facebook posting. Teachers and administrators, they say, are cruising Facebook looking for incriminating evidence. Todd from Paul VI Catholic received a “friend request” from someone he thought was a pretty new girl coming to the school. The guys were excited. “She never showed up,” Todd says. He thinks it was an administrator. “I don’t see it being a kid—that’d be the lamest prank ever.”
It’s possible that school administrators are creating fake profiles to search online for bad behavior, but some say they don’t bother. Parents and other students bring pictures to the school’s attention.
“The information is readily available without us having to go trolling for it,” says Michael Doran, principal of Rockville’s Wootton High.
Student officers also gave out color-coded bracelets based on the amount of personal information that kids posted on their profiles. Students who listed cell numbers got yellow bracelets; kids who gave out a home number, address, or work information got red.
“We followed one girl home from work and videotaped it, showing how easy it was for somebody to stalk you,” says guidance counselor Jennifer Taylor. “We got her permission and showed it in our assembly.”
To illustrate the ugliness of Wootton talk online, the student government pulled quotes and wall messages from students’ profiles and posted them without attribution around the building. Among the quotes:
Not Jewish, thank you very much.
I hate dumb people, especially blonds with a lot of acne.
I love getting high.
Rape is not a crime—it’s surprise sex.