But I Can Just Delete It...Right?

July 23, 2015

You tweeted something highly controversial. Your latest Instagram is a photo of obviously underage drinkers. You wrote a blog including the answers to the latest history homework assignment. So this isn’t the most flattering view of you, but hey, it’s no big deal you can just delete it, right?

In the era of constant digital feeds and screenshots, it is impossible to know exactly who has seen or recorded your latest posts. Although you may have deleted something it may still be out there in someone's memory or even as a screenshot. As the digital world grows, social media becomes a larger part of your personal record, and can even impact your education.

Examples of Online Activity Gone Wrong

After the Caitlyn Jenner article in Vanity Fair was released Twitter was overflowing with opinionated tweets. A high school senior in my hometown posted a series of extremely opinionated tweets regarding Jenner. Peers at his soon to be university were enraged. They sent letters with screenshots of the tweets to the administration stating they were uncomfortable going to school with a student like him and wore shirts in protest. Although he deleted his tweets, he still faces repercussions with the university and a newfound reputation among his peers.

Your education can not only be negatively affected but detrimentally impacted by your digital footprint. At the College William and Mary an email was leaked from a fraternity’s listserv. The offensive email described women and the pursuit of them in a crude and sexist manner. The email was then forwarded and released on several websites. The student who wrote the email faced suspension from the College and the fraternity is still handling the consequences.

Across the nation, students are getting suspended for their social media usage. In Pittsburg, CA students were suspended for an instagram photo they commented on. The students had posted the photo but what got the students in trouble was the cyberbullying that surrounded the reposting and retweeting of the photo.

Social Post Can Impact Your Education

Admissions officers are now beginning to rummage through applicants social media profiles when considering them. Social media is having a growing impact on the lives of students, affecting their application process, their time at school and even the limbo in between. It is important for parents to start the conversation about the impact of social media, warn their children, and explain to them the potential impact of their digital profiles.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Only post things you’d be comfortable for an employer, your grandparents and your boyfriend’s mom seeing.

  • Be mindful of what you are posting in your photos including what is in the background of your photos.

  • Reposts and Retweets can also be impact your online reputation.

  • Always keep in mind that people may forward or screenshot what you typed or posted.

  • Use the digital footprint checklist to clean up your online presence.

Whether you are admiring your Facebook friend’s wedding photos or promoting a school fundraiser on Twitter, there are numerous benefits to using social media. By using it responsibly, you can reap the benefits and present your best self online.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.

Written by

Giselle Tirado

Giselle Tirado, summer intern for FOSI, is a rising junior majoring in government and finance at the College of William and Mary. She is committed to the mission of online safety as she actively works as the liaison of the digital world for her parents and two younger siblings (8 year old brother and 17 year old sister). During the academic year, Giselle continues this foster the ideals of online safety through leadership roles in her sorority, Chi Omega, and mentoring organizations on campus. Her various roles mentoring students include: acting as a lead caller at the William and Mary University Advancement Office, acting as a diversity mentor in the student peer advising network, and as an orientation aid through the First Year Experience Office. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and dancing. Giselle is very excited to continue working with the FOSI team this summer.