Haunted by Your Social Media Past

Haunted by Your Social Media Past

One Author Proposes Seemingly-Simple Solution

Stacy Snyder is becoming a social media icon for all of the wrong reasons.  You may have heard about her situation, as a 25-year-old student teacher, Snyder posted a now-famous (infamous) photo of herself sporting a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup.  The photo was captioned, "Drunken Pirate."    In the ensuing fallout, Snyder was denied a teaching degree from Millersville University School of Education.  The Washington Post reported at the time that Millersville was concerned that the photo, contained here on The Smoking Gun, might be construed as promoting underage drinking. It's no surprise the matter ended up in court.  Snyder's First Amendment protected speech claim was rejected.  (View the original complaint in this Washington Post Article).

A recent  New York Times Magazine article discussed the challenges people worldwide face in the digital era from the indelible nature of cyber posts.  The Times notes that the problem faced by Stacy Snyder is an illustration of the larger issue plaguing all ill-advised uploaders:  "how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing - where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever."

Law Students thinking ahead to on campus interview season beware. Is there anything out there you wouldn't want a potential employer to find?  Guidance Counselors at many high schools now warn students to use care when posting because colleges may be looking at their Facebook and MySpace pages.  In addition, college advisors also remind students now that prospective employers research applicants' backgrounds on networking sites and other social media channels.    This recent staffing survey by  JCSI Staffing notes that nearly 75% of employers and recruiters surveyed plan to increase or continue using social media to connect with and research candidates.  The New York Times reports that seventy percent of US recruiters admit rejecting candidates based on information found on line, including photos, conversations on discussion boards and group memberships.

It's no wonder Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is getting attention for his book, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.  In it, Mayer- Schönberger   notes that our desire to keep digital memories and store everything from family photo albums to recipes, work e-mails and personal information leaves us in danger of losing the ability and privilege of forgetting.

The solution he proposes seems simple enough on the surface--- Mayer-Schönberger recommends adding expiration dates to digital information. So in the future, you're milk might not be the only product you use each day that carries a date stamp.

New York Times The End of Forgetting

Washington Post  Court Rules Against Teacher

The Smoking Gun  College Sued over Drunken Pirate Sanctions

JCSI Staffing   2010 Recruiting Survey

Harvard University  Berkman Center for Internet & Society

 For additional discussion of this and other Social Media Topics, join the conversation on Martindale.com Connected's Social Media for Lawyers .