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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An interesting look at how your online profile activity can come back to haunt you ...

With all the news in Syria today, it's a topic that is hard to ignore. For example, check out the differences in coverage between CNN (who is drumming the beat of war, yet again) and Fox (who is using the opportunity to yet again attack Obama).

But my mom sent me this earlier today and I thought it'd be an interesting diversion from all the serious and heavy news about the Middle East.

Here is the story:

When a cousin told me a few weeks ago that his son is a freshman at the University of Illinois-Chicago, I offered this unsolicited advice: "Tell him to watch what he expresses through social media."

My cousin, an executive for a long-haul trucking company, thanked me for the warning. However, his 18-year-old son said: "I know all about that stuff." After all, he has Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. Having grown up with the technology, he is what is called a "social media native."

As I spoke with him, I was thinking about the case of Caleb Jamaal Clemmons. In February, Clemmons was a psychology major at Georgia Southern University when he wrote on Tumblr that "i plan on shooting up georgia southern. pass this around to see the affect it has. to see if i get arrested."

Now, clearly, that was NOT a smart move. And MOST of us would not do something so stupid.

But he was apparently just kidding. And yet, he is in serious trouble for it.

Three hours after the post, the 20-year-old was arrested on a charge of making a terrorist threat even though investigators found no hard evidence of an attack. Bail was set at $20,000. Too much for Clemmons or his mother to pay, he stayed in jail six months awaiting trial. A judge sentenced him to time served and five years of probation. Here is the tough part: As part of probation, he is banned from four counties, including the one where the university is located, and he is not permitted to use social media. He must undergo a mental health evaluation and complete a drug and alcohol test.

Incredibly, the author of this op-ed suggests that universities should take responsibility to educate their students about their online behaviors.


How about mom and dad?

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