Facebook not a grown-up playground
By Vanessa Valensuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 20, 2006
"So, ladies, I saw that there are some pretty interesting photos of
you all on
that Facebook Web site." These words - spoken not by a friend or
but by my landlord - ushered in a wave of dread. Panic-stricken, I
recall every note on my profile's wall and every picture I had posted
recent date dashes and parties.
When the popularity of www.facebook.com mushroomed last year and
the nation began adding profiles at staggering rates, the biggest
parents' fear of cyber-stalking.
Now that students have grown accustomed to posting every detail of
from the mundane to the torrid, on their profiles, they need to show
more restraint. On many profiles, discretion takes a back seat to
Thursday night's killer keg stand or commenting on Friday night's
The sense of community created by Facebook and the assumption that
students are able to access profiles have created for many a blasť
about posting comments or pictures of themselves being "college kids."
However, students must keep in mind that university e-mail addresses
limited to undergraduate students; a variety of other people have
their Facebook profiles, including administrators, faculty members
University of Arizona Police Department.
It has taken the use of Facebook comments and photos as evidence in
brought by administrators and police to remind students that the
accessible to the public, making its content fair game for use in
For example, the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently
policy permitting disciplinary action if staff members come across
photos showing students violating school policy. Police at
University have been scouring Facebook profiles in an attempt to
charge students who broke the law by rushing the field after Penn
over Oregon State University.
At George Washington University, students took it upon themselves to
university police were using the Facebook to find and break up
created a "Beer Party" on the Facebook and waited, digital cameras in
police to arrive. When squad cars rolled up, police found students
and downing cupcakes frosted with the word "beer."
As similar cases pop up around the country, students must face the
their profile content may be accessible to a much wider audience than
The fact that there are e-mail registration requirements set by
necessarily mean that this wider audience only stretches to include
affiliated with the university; it isn't hard for those who would
like to view a
profile to simply find someone they know with access (as was the case
landlord, who had his daughter sign him in so he could check up on
Some campus organizations have recognized how accessible the profiles
student members are and have attempted to remind students to keep
the public domain somewhat professional. Cherilyn Gain, a student
for the Arizona Blue Chip Program, said the leadership organization has
discussed incorporating a workshop for its freshmen on how to present
professionally on the Facebook.
Blue Chip is not alone: UA Residence Life has also tackled the issue.
resident assistants, we were encouraged to keep our Facebook profiles
appropriate to serve as a good example for our residents," said Kyle
senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology and resident
assistant at Yuma
Patrick Call, associate director of residential education, confirmed
RAs are asked to sign an agreement that states that they will "use
computer-related communication, including Facebook, appropriately."
He said that
content referring to alcohol use, even for those of age, is highly
as it detracts from RAs' status as role models.
When asked, many students on campus said they were not surprised to
Facebook-related entanglements with administrators and police.
others admitted they were clueless as to the possible consequences of
Facebook administrators have done their part by introducing new
that give users control over which parts of their profiles are
viewable by the
public. It is up to students at this point to wise up to the less-
online community and exercise some caution when tending to their
After all, would you really want a future employer or a professor
with a great
research opportunity to come across Facebook pictures from last
year's spring break?
Vanessa Valenzuela is a sophomore majoring in economics and
studies. She can be reached at [log in to unmask]