By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
By now you've seen or heard this scenario play out in one way or another:
1. Boy takes picture of his involvement in a not-so-respectable activity.
2. Picture gets posted to Facebook.
3. Boy is friends with professor/employer/parent/grandparent who sees picture.
4. Boy is at risk of losing a scholarship/being fired from a job/getting yelled at by parents/receiving "that look" from grandparents that makes him or her want to crawl into a hole.
It's embarrassing, right? But, yet, a number of college students across the globe continue to post less-than-savory photos and updates of themselves on Facebook –– only to reap the repercussions of their poor actions down the road.
Here's how to keep from doing the same. Seriously, read these tips and avoid a Facebook scandal you'll get to call your very own.
1. Crank up your privacy settings.
"But remember that even the most secure setting leaves you vulnerable," says Brent Franson, vice president of sales at Reputation.com. "There's no fool-proof setting."
2. Don't talk about your professors.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but it's a common mistake says Mike Austin, professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University and author of the blog, "Ethics for Everyone" at PsychologyToday.com.
"This can get back to that professor," he says. "There is an ongoing conversation about many issues occurring in social media, and by participating in this in an intelligent, thoughtful, and responsible manner, students can enhance their reputation. They may interact in positive ways with faculty at a graduate program they would like to attend, and this could be beneficial."
3. Choose wisely with who you "friend" on Facebook.
"If they don't know you, then they don't have a right to see your information,” says Kevin DeShazo of Fieldhouse Media. "There's no award handed out for having the most Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Turn on the setting that requires you to approve any picture that a Friend tags you in."
4. Avoid gossip.
"And don't let someone else pull you into a gossipy conversation," Franson said. "Instead, post about things you like (e.g. hobbies, career interests, bands or movies) or things that concern you, like social justice issues, news or volunteering."
5. Think before you post.
Brian Massie, a communication consultant at Virginia-based advertising agency, American Timing Group, LLC, advises students to avoid trying to use their Facebook posts to show off.
"The question you need to ask yourself is 'Why is it important to me to electronically publish that I did something controversial or illegal?'" Massie says. "As tempting as it is, don't use social media to try to impress people ... You can be classy or you can be a punk; the choice is yours." We say choose class –– every time.
- Don't use Facebook as a place to gossip. Save it for private conversations.
- Never discuss your professors or any other person who can affect your status in school or at a place of employment.
- Don't make it a popularity contest –– you won't win an award for having an obscene number of friends.