The media recently reported on Harvard University cancelling offers to ten incoming students as a result of offensive postings that these students had posted to Facebook.

Inappropriate comments and photos can change your live for ever. Negative results include not only an unsuccessful university application, but also an unsuccessful job application and in extreme cases even court proceedings against you.

Although social media has been with us for ten years, experts are of the opinion that this warning has not yet sunk in. It is difficult enough to teach our children about the long-term effects and get them to continuously think about these consequences. However, many adults do not yet have this insight and are oblivious or even blasé about the dangers thereof.

Back to America. Harvard rejected the ten students’ applications as a result of offensive postings on Facebook that contained sexually explicit scenes or descriptions, made fun of Mexicans or were sarcastic about the Jewish holocaust before and during the Second World War, as well as other themes related to sexual violence.

In case you have not known or still don’t believe: EVERYTHING you post to the internet – including comments on social media or web sites – can be found easily and be used against you.

Think of the internet as a public notice board: Everything can be read by anyone, including possible employers, your family and your work colleagues.

The internet and especially social media are quickly becoming the first place that employers consult to get an idea of who you are (and, one can accept, what kind of person you are). It is also the first place where news media goes to research you whenever you find yourself under their magnifying glass – for whatever reason. Everything – photos, comments and friends – is mined to create a picture of you.

Someone once protested against this type of interfering, but the standard answer is: “It is your responsibility alone to not post anything that may be challengeable to start with!”

A general rule is to not post anything that you would not like your grandmother to see. Also, do not boast or tell jokes. Boasting about three work offers will not go down well with any of those organisation who are considering you and who stumble upon these comments.

If you are worried about your online presence, search for your name on the internet and on social media. Then delete anything on your own account that is negative. If it is posted on a web site that someone else manages, request them to remove the item. But remember that news media is unlikely to remove or modify old stories without a court order.

This does not mean that you should not post anything online, however. Just use sound judgement and privacy settings to limit access to whatever you post. The truth, however, is that this last hint did not help the Harvard students. Although their remarks had been posted in private Facebook groups, it was still found.

This article was provided to Wêreldwyd by Brokkies. Brokkies is a free email newsletter that is primarily focused on Southern African immigrants who reside in New Zealand and Australia. Visit to sign up, contribute or advertise.

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Wêreldwyd admin
Wêreldwyd admin

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