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10 Percent of Colleges Check Applicants' Social Profiles

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the mood:-unsurprised dept.

Privacy 398

theodp writes "Confirming paranoid high-schoolers' fears, a new Kaplan survey reveals that 10% of admissions officers from prestigious schools said they had peeked at sites like Facebook and MySpace to evaluate college-bound seniors. Of those using the profiles, 38% said it had a 'negative impact' on the applicant. 'Today's application is not just what you send ... but whatever they can Google about you,' said Kaplan's Jeff Olson. At Notre Dame, assistant provost for enrollment Dan Saracino said he and his staff sometimes come across candidates portraying themselves in a less-than-flattering light. 'It's typically inappropriate photos — like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said. On the other hand, using the Internet to vet someone's character seems overly intrusive to Northwestern's Christopher Watson. 'We consider Facebook and MySpace their personal space,' the dean of undergraduate admissions said. 'It would feel somewhat like an invasion of privacy.'" We recently discussed similar practices from prospective employers.

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398 comments

The public internet is not private or personal (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093471)

If you can't figure that out, you shouldn't be getting into good schools.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (4, Insightful)

Yer Mum (570034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093559)

What happens if you can figure it out but your friend who took the photo and uploaded it can't?

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (5, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093715)

take responsibility for your own actions?

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093959)

take responsibility for your own actions?

And what exactly does that mean in practise? If everything private is free to be put on the Intarwebs by someone else, then you don't have a private life. It doesn't mean that you have to be ashamed of it or anything, but it means it's no longer private. There's a difference between "taking responsibility" by using a condom when banging your girlfriend and "taking responsibility" for the video being on porntube against your will. I think you can find many examples of socially accepted behaviour where putting it online isn't if you think about it.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (3, Insightful)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093961)

In other words, if you ever want to do anything but be a bum, you have to live life like Ward Cleaver.

A world were "holding up a can of beer at a party" is something that should disqualify anyone from anything is not a world I want to live in. There are several pictures of me holding a beer or a glass of wine on Facebook. They don't reflect anything remotely negative about me.

Yes, people should use judgment (i.e. not let pictures of themselves naked, etc. onto the Internet), but I shouldn't have to be held hostage by people's crazy hangups. People don't always just sit in their houses and read the New York Times.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093575)

Well, yes and no. Yes, in the fact that sites like myspace and what you post for everyone to see isn't private. It's still personal, but that's just semantics.

In the same token, there are things we can and do privately on the internet, but I doubt you were really targeting that with your post. So this is a bit moot.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093783)

Actually, I don't think it's moot. The idea that semantics can be played here means that a given percentile of the populace will be confused and not understand the dangers of posting a picture of their friend on the internet passed out, with the caption including their name and the particular substance involved. So a future employer check their myspace page, and pages of all his best friends. One lost job in the making, and not through personal mistakes, but because friends talk too much.

Personal information on the Internet is dangerous. My own family mocks my attempts to tell them not to do it, and to be very careful about what their friends post. Despite that there are pictures that are less than complimentary on line of them. I don't think that anyone can stress enough how those semantics will not protect them from a nosy prospective employer.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093591)

Very true. It is also true that if you think what someone puts on Facebook and MySpace is relevant to their academic performance, then you shouldn't be in charge of admissions decisions for a good school, or any school. If you think it's relevant to job performance, you shouldn't be making hiring decisions, either.

There. That disposes of the question of what people "shouldn't" be doing. Now, back to the real world.

School and work are not one-dimensional (3, Insightful)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093745)

Since when has a school been *just* about academics? Isn't it also about the 'life experience' aspect too?

Since when has a 'job' *just* been about 'performance'? Doesn't your personality and ability to fit in with others have anything to do with how well you'll do on a job?

Re:School and work are not one-dimensional (4, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093949)

I don't go to college for the "life experience." I go for the degree. If socialization was the goal, I'd do it without spending thousands of dollars a semester.

Re:School and work are not one-dimensional (2, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093993)

Doesn't your personality and ability to fit in with others have anything to do with how well you'll do on a job?

Yes. If someone does not have photos at party, it means he doesn't fit with others well.

Re:School and work are not one-dimensional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25094027)

Unfortunately, all too true, so let's hire the jock with the funny sounding major to fill the SysAdmin opening we have because he will get along with the CEO and Marketing. Don't have to worry about him being an alcoholic, his MySpace page says he only drinks some flavor of Koolaid called Colorado. He also makes sure he takes lots of vitamin C.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093951)

The school I attend is currently being sued for $75 million because some moron decided it would be a good idea to drink an entire bottle of Vodka in a 15 minute window. (apparently he was pressured into doing it, but the way I see it is, if there was no gun to his head to do drink) The parents argument is that if medical attention was provided immediately he would have came out uninjured. I guess they are just as delusional as the son, for thinking he'd survive that. I don't know if he had any pictures of himself drinking on myspace or facebook, but I don't think schools like running the risk of their students dying on campus, even if it's the exception and not the rule.

So when applying for anything, don't put any incriminating photos on the Internet, it's just the smart thing to do.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (5, Insightful)

discontinuity (792010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094067)

Very true. It is also true that if you think what someone puts on Facebook and MySpace is relevant to their academic performance, then you shouldn't be in charge of admissions decisions for a good school, or any school. If you think it's relevant to job performance, you shouldn't be making hiring decisions, either.

I'll play devil's advocate here. I happen to agree that this kind of thing shouldn't matter, but I think I understand the admissions perspective:

For the college admissions people this is an odds game. The number of applicants who are qualified based on test scores, grades and all the normal junk is larger than the number of spaces they have. Given this, how do they pare it down? Perhaps Googling or checking out the Facebook/MySpace pages for some of the "borderline" students is more practical than throwing darts? I'm guessing their belief is that a student who gave in to peer pressure and the like in high school has worse odds of being successful in college where such pressures go unchecked by parents, etc. I'm not saying it's right, but I think I see where they're coming from.

Now, all of that being said, I think students who are somewhat sheltered in high school are just as likely, and perhaps even more likely, to succumb to the temptations and pressures of college life. I've seen more than a couple people who were honors students in high school simply go off the deep end upon arriving at college. Conversely, I've known several who were "party types" in high school who decided that it was time to get serious about life when they got to college and have been very successful since then. It's just really hard to know how people will react until you do the experiment.

I for one am glad that MySpace and camera phones weren't around when I was a teenager!

Underage drinker =/= bad student (0)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093769)

If you can't figure that out, you shouldn't be on the admissions comittee to any school.

The internet being public doesn't make all information on it relevant.

Also, judge much? "you shouldn't be getting into good schools?" What the hell? Is the best admission criterion really having an understanding of internet privacy? I would say not even close. You can be really smart about important things and not realize that. You can also be really smart and not realize someone snapped a picture of you and uploaded it in an unfortunate situation.

Re:Underage drinker =/= bad student (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093967)

Underage drinker doesn't necessarily mean bad student, but if you've got pictures of somebody getting wasted, hitting the beer bong, and pissing on a fire hydrant, then I think it's justified for an admissions officer to ask if that's really the kind of behavior they want to bring onto campus. Of course, it's probably irrelevant anyway, because in my experience even the goody two-shoes in high school have a good chance of becoming raging drunk freshmen. To a certain degree, it's inevitable.

Re:The public internet is not private or personal (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093981)

I would question whether a college has any business judging people to such an extent on somethng as trivial as a can of beer.

OTOH, this is the good 'ol US of A we're talking about. Weirdos.

Common sense (4, Insightful)

haluness (219661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093473)

Don't put up what you don't want other people to see - I hear all about the new generation growing up with the Internet and Facebook being a part of their life.

But what about simple commonsense rules (either derived on their own or imbibed from parents)?

Would you make a fool of yourself in the street (OK, some people would)?

Re:Common sense (5, Insightful)

Revolver4ever (860659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093665)

It's easy to do that. And while I'm sure lots of people post pictures of themselves doing stupid things, I would be more worried about my friends, enemies, girlfriends, ex's, bystanders, even family posting pictures or writing blog posts about me without my knowledge or consent. If a university finds a blog post that mentions my name and how kinky I am in bed especially after drinking and smoking and getting a tattoo written by my ex who wants to get back at me..what do you do?

Re:Common sense (5, Insightful)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093711)

It's funny how most parents spend a considerable amount of time telling their kids "it doesn't matter what other people think" when it comes to things like peer pressure or social interaction, and then we go right back around and tell them it's important what other people think and your life is ruined if you make a fool out of yourself, whether on the street or online.

It's either one or the other, people. Either it doesn't matter what people think, and you can wear a toga when you're sweeping your lawn with a vacuum cleaner, or it matters what people think and you should be devastated that Kristen thinks you're a retard because you won't spend 150$ on a pair of jeans.

Or maybe, just maybe, parents should be telling their kids the truth: "it always matters what important people think, but determining importance is an exercise in good judgment. Since you're a teenager, your judgment sucks, so I'll decide for you who should be important to you."

I'm sure this wouldn't come over so well stated precisely like that, but I'm sure someone could come up with a better way of saying it.

Re:Common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093723)

Common sense? At 16?

Re:Common sense (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093995)

I've seen teenagers with loads of common sense (myself included), and I've seen adults with none. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with experience and upbringing.

Re:Common sense (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093751)

Fair enough. People should be careful what they post (I know I am).

But in another sense, this issues is shining a light on a fundamental hypocrisy in our society. Were teens before the Internet angels? I think not. They vandalized, they drank, they did drugs, they pushed boundaries... just like the teens of today. But, their actions were easier to keep private. Now with SMS, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Google, etc., all these kinds of things are more consistently cataloged and disseminated. Even if you don't post it yourself, a friend (or enemy) might post it. And it will be indexed.

The hypocrisy comes in from the social elders who now judge these teens. They see a teen holding a can of beer, and deem them irresponsible. Yet, the vast majority of those judging did the exact same thing when they were a teen. Holding this next generation to a higher standard is hypocritical. How many of the great men and women in society did the same kinds of things? (According to statistics: most of them.) And what does it accomplish? Does it actually reduce the activitie(s), or just teach teens how to hide and lie?

I think it's time that society in general got a little more honest and realistic about what teens are up to. They drink, they have sex, they do all kinds of crazy things. I'm not saying that we give them free reign to do whatever they want without consequences. But I'm sick of holding them to unrealistic expectations, and teaching them habits that amount to "hide the truth" rather than "enjoy life in a balanced and responsible way."

Re:Common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093927)

While I'd agree that the people doing the judging might have very well done the same things, today's world is different. Given the choice between two job applicants, one who I can find triumphantly shouldering a keg of beer on facebook, and another of whom I cannot find any incriminating photos, I'd definitely choose the second one. Sure it's possible that both of them do very well, but hey, use the information you have.

Re:Common sense (1)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094075)

May I ask what your line of reasoning is? Seeing that someone has an active social life, which is about all you can infer from that, would make the applicant more appealing to me. What is such a photo incriminating of?

Re:Common sense (1)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094007)

Precisely. I wish I hadn't already posted -- a mod up of your post would have done more good.

If someone posted a picture of himself having sex on the Internet, that may reflect on his judgment. If someone posted a picture of himself and his buddies at a party with beers, that just means he's like every other human, teenage or otherwise, on the planet.

Hypersensitive moralists of any stripe need to get over themselves.

Saving the morality of our higher institutions (5, Funny)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093487)

This is a completely legitimate practice. After all, if we don't catch people holding up cans of beer at a party before they are admitted, why, they'll be doing it at colleges around the country next before you know it!

OH NO BEER CAN!!! (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093493)

'It's typically inappropriate photos -- like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said.

HOLY S***!!!! Someone is holding up a beer can in a picture and smiling. No self respecting person would ever do that!

Re:OH NO BEER CAN!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093763)

Well... it IS illegal.

Although I wonder what they would think if you put up a picture of a speeding ticket you got. It would be interesting to ask one of those jackals how they would feel about that.

Re:OH NO BEER CAN!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093833)

That's what I thought at first, but the problem is probably that with American drinking regulations, if you do that while you're under 21 (college applicants usually are), it's illegal. I regularly forget that about the US. This whole can-die-for-your-country-but-can't-drink-legally thing is weird.

Re:OH NO BEER CAN!!! (1)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094029)

And, since no one under 21 except you ever drinks, the fact that you broke that law is obviously a reflection on your character and your academic potential.

EPIC CLUE FAIL.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093507)

'It's typically inappropriate photos â" like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said

Riiiight. Because nobody who has had a picture taken holding a can of beer could possibly benefit from a higher education, or be a net positive for society.

Cripes. Makes me glad I'm decades past my college days.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093587)

"Riiiight. Because nobody who has had a picture taken holding a can of beer could possibly benefit from a higher education, or be a net positive for society."

Point taken, but such a student may indeed be far less likely to contribute to that university's Nobel Prize count. However, of course, that doesn't seem to have an effect on the count of US Presidents that come from a student body, although I'm thinking that Yale might be a little ashamed of #43.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (4, Insightful)

gnarled (411192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093765)

Point taken, but such a student may indeed be far less likely to contribute to that university's Nobel Prize count.

Are you sure? I bet if Richard Feynman had had a Facebook profile it would have been pretty scandalous.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093787)

Point taken, but such a student may indeed be far less likely to contribute to that university's Nobel Prize count.

Really? I think that's a false assumption. Give me some facts:

- How many Nobel Prize winners had a drink of alcohol while underage? How many did not? Then compare with the population at large.
- How many Nobel Prize winners had a drink of beer while underage? How many did not? Then compare with the population at large.

Only then can you answer the question.

I would bet that when you correlate underage drinking with Nobel Prizes there is no relation between them, or a slight increase of Nobel Prizes among the underage drinkers.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093649)

'It's typically inappropriate photos â" like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said

Yes, because I'm being responsible & environmentally friendly by collecting aluminum cans and making sure they don't end up in the landfill, I'm going to suffer. I would never dream of drinking while underage (ahem).

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (3, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093663)

Maybe it's just my read but I do believe that "holding up a beer can at a party" is really just a placeholder phrase for all the jackass things people post of themselves on the internet. In the US it has become apparent to me that mostly what counts is image. From products to politics it is not necessarily a good product (only) that wins out, it is a product that has a good image with the public.

As my mother-in-law says, if you're alive you're in business. So don't be a dolt and publicly post stuff that could have a deleterious effect on your image.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093667)

It's typically inappropriate photos--like holding up a can of beer at a party...

So if you read that in the summary and conclude that a picture with a beer would keep a student out of this college, sure that's awful--an incredible over-reaction. But, perhaps, we should look at the whole quote:

At the University of Notre Dame, which received 14,000 applications for 1,985 slots last year, assistant provost for enrollment Dan Saracino said he and his staff "don't go out of our way" to scrutinize students online, but sometimes they come across candidates portraying themselves in a less-than-flattering light.... It's typically inappropriate photos--like holding up a can of beer at a party.... We try to turn it into a teaching moment... It's an opportunity to let students know that what they put on these sites is not just between you and your friends, but you and the world."

I google interns before hiring them for the summer. But typical college behavior certainly does not deter me from hiring a college student!

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093813)

Unlike in decades past, college admissions are much more competitive.

There are plenty of students with 4.0 gpa, leadership roles in different organizations, and lots of sports activities. When the college admissions officers are looking for students who have the lowest risk of failing out and the highest chance of succeeding, it's obvious why they'd not want the student who engages in illegal activities and parties when there are plenty of other students to take that spot.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093817)

Riiiight. Because nobody who has had a picture taken holding a can of beer could possibly benefit from a higher education, or be a net positive for society.
.

The problem isn't that you are holding a single can of beer.

The problem is that you are totally sloshed and barely able to stand.

The problem is that you are an exhibitionist drunk - lewd and obnoxious. The problem is that this isn't your first such performance on YouTube.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093823)

'It's typically inappropriate photos -- like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said
Riiiight. Because nobody who has had a picture taken holding a can of beer could possibly benefit from a higher education, or be a net positive for society.

Cripes. Makes me glad I'm decades past my college days.

It makes me glad I'm not in the USA for college. The university I attended in London had several bars on campus (some run by the students, some run by the university). The first thing on my timetable was something like "Computing department new students party" where the head of department told us if we drank all the wine they'd provided she'd see to it that there was more next time.

Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (1)

bogidu (300637) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093835)

Yes, and because the rest of us TRULY enjoy working with functional alcoholics.

I wonder how much they even bother to check (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093517)

for accuracy. First its really easy to blackmail someone by creating an account with their bio, and probably next to impossible to get it down. Secondly, esp. with more common names, its really easy to find someone with the same name who is totally unrelated to the applicant. Should you be judged based on what that person does? Finally, how many people actually take the time to really interpret what a quick google search reveals? A search for my real name without quotes, esp. my full name, reveals tons of porn. I guess I just better hope that nobody tries to search for me on the internet without taking the time to do a proper query(and even then all they will find is my embarrassing performance in the one and only sanctioned chess tournament I ever participated in....)

Re:I wonder how much they even bother to check (4, Interesting)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093673)

Hell, I have a surname I have to spell for people, and a quick Google leads to the conclusion that I have my own band, regularly do shows of my art, and hold degrees in Computer Science and Medicine. Suffice to say, most of that isn't accurate.

Sooner or later someone (university admissions, potentional employer, whatever) is going to get themselves badly sued over this, and frankly it serves them right for making snap judgments based on what amounts to unproven rumours.

Re:I wonder how much they even bother to check (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093737)

Don't forget to mention how easy it is to photo-shop a picture. Stick a person's face on a something inappropriate and you have that 'bad shot'.

For those people who say, it is easy to distinguish a photo-shop picture, remember we are talking about some administrative worker who is focused upon paperwork. They may examine the picture all of 5 seconds. It is not going to be examined closely like a fake ID to get beer or a Passport to get in and out the country.

Re:I wonder how much they even bother to check (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093807)

Not to mention you can do all sorts of tricks, make it a low res shot, make it "blurry" etc to aid the illusion. Esp. with the camera phone craze, someone will just think it was shot with a terrible camera, not think that it was photoshopped.

Re:I wonder how much they even bother to check (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093819)

I doubt they look twice.

Just like employers that do the same sort of 'background checks', they don't bother and just move on to the next while you never knew what happened.

Even if its your face, who is to say it wasn't grafted on?

Beer (4, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093521)

'It's typically inappropriate photos -- like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said.

... "Because," Saracino continues, "Beer is not the sort of thing people drink at college."

Re:Beer (2, Funny)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093717)

Beer is not the sort of thing people drink at college.

Says the college administrator while he pours himself a scotch from the bottle on the bookshelf...

Maybe I'm just old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093535)

...but every time I read one of these articles I can't help but wonder, "Who the heck uses their real name on the internet!?" The answer is probably something like, "People who aren't paranoid."

Because They Wouldn't Dare Do That At College... (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093539)

Honestly. It's no news that high school kids drink, do drugs, and fuck each others brains out. So what? You expect them to not do that when they need to wind down?

I think a reality check is in order. I can understand checking for a long history of a criminal background and seeing that they've done nothing to curb it, sure. They're probably a liability; but some kid who parties with his friends? No more or less a liability than the next person, given the odds.

Scariest here... (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093551)

Their reliance on the fact that the profiles are "real"

Of those using the profiles, 38% said it had a 'negative impact' on the applicant. 'Today's application is not just what you send ... but whatever they can Google about you,'

Suppose a person has a grudge against you. They know you are applying for admission to a certain school. They know the school searches for myspace profiles or other profiles on social networking sites.

The person anonymizes themselves using proxies and creates a fake facebook or myspace profile. They use your name and general location: they include some nasty message/text that would be seen as highly negative.

The admissions office searches for your name. They find this page. They have no real way to verify whether or not you posted the page.

Their decision otherwise would be to admit you to their school, but they assume you posted this horrible page: it has your name, location, and a few other details that match their records, after all. Their assumption leads to a negative conclusion which prevents you from being admitted.

The person who posted the info is completely anonymous, and there is no means to locate the person.

What is your recourse? You will never actually be told the underlying reason for the rejection.

This is a reason universities should not be "searching" social network sites: until such time as the identity of the site's creator can be proven. They are creating a DoS opportunity for anonymous people to prevent other people from being admitted.

Re:Scariest here... (2, Interesting)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093599)

There's always someone posting what you wrote, and I always laugh. Not because it couldn't happen, but because the chances of it happening to any given person is unlikely.

I don't disagree that universities shouldn't be using this information to make their decisions, but not for the reasons you've given.

Re:Scariest here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093695)

There's always someone posting what you wrote, and I always laugh. Not because it couldn't happen, but because the chances of it happening to any given person is unlikely.

Oh yeah?

Two weeks ago our dean told us about an incident that happened earlier in the month. The office of student services got a letter which contained printed out pictures of someone holding up alcoholic drinks, passing out, and vomiting. At the very bottom the text read:

Do you want this person to be your doctor?
[The applicant's AAMC and AMCAS numbers]

Re:Scariest here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093853)

Yeah! Or what if, like, an earthquake occurs, and it cracks the ground in such a way that it spells out your name and a nasty message, and they find you with Google Maps satellite view!

Oh no wait. That would be silly.

Personal? (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093561)

'We consider Facebook and MySpace their personal space,' the dean of undergraduate admissions said. 'It would feel somewhat like an invasion of privacy.'"

They're being overly sensitive. MySpace isn't private. Information put on the internet, publicly available without a password or other security, should be considered as public as anything on a community bulletin board.

That's why deeplinking is legal, to refer to the discussion from a few days ago.

Also, a simple MySpace check can probably tell the college a vast amount of detail about the student... and their level of stupidity. Responsibility and Judgment should be rewarded.

Re:Personal? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093847)

Responsibility and Judgment should be rewarded.

You can be responsible and have good judgement and still hold a can of beer at a party.

Facebook and MySpace "personal space"? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093577)

That's news to me. Even though I am not in any of the social networking sites (can you believe it?), I was always under the impression that the profiles you create there are, you know, publicly accessible.

If you don't want information about you to be viewed, it could be a good idea not to publish it online.

No expectation of privacy in a public space (2, Insightful)

SlashBugs (1339813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093583)

..including the internet.

Arguably the universities should restrict themselves to the application documents and interviews, in the spirit of fair play.

However, these kids have created publicly viewable profiles for themselves and chosen to leave the privacy settings off so anyone with a net connection can view them. They've then loaded up these profiles with photos and information that make them look bad, and still decided to leave it all open to public view.

There's no way someone who's done all this could possibly complain that someone has invaded their privacy. They've undoubtedly tried to find all the online information about their prospective colleges and professors; it's a two-way street.

I'd turn the college down (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093593)

Any college using this sort of highly dubious character assessment technique would not be a place I would want to study or work.

Its stupid anyway, hell, If I'd been judged by the things I got up to outside the classroom I'd never have made it past my first year at uni.

Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (3, Insightful)

compumike (454538) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093597)

It doesn't have to be a photo you posted... but someone else could have posted it and tagged you! You essentially have to start assuming that any digital photo taken of you will end up online with your name. Quite scary. Would be nice if there sere some sort of consent-based tagging, requiring your approval, but that's probably too complicated for Facebook to think about.

--
Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093851)

Would be nice if there sere some sort of consent-based tagging, requiring your approval, but that's probably too complicated for Facebook to think about.

It already does this. If somebody tags you in a photo, then you are notified, and you have the option of removing the tag. Without the tag, it's not linked to your profile.

Gotta laugh at Slashdot, which regularly complains about the older generation not knowing their arse from their elbow when it comes to technology, being suddenly infested with comments that are totally ignorant of the technology at hand.

Re:Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093915)

It's still an opt-out system.

The OP was referring to an opt-in system - which would prevent a lot of these problems. However, it would still be impossible to prevent your name being associated with the photo, just your profile.

Re:Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (4, Informative)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093873)

You are alerted when you are tagged. You can remove your tag from other people's photos, and they will not be able to add it again.

Re:Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (1)

wdsci (1204512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094033)

Actually on Facebook at least, you can be retagged - although, I believe, only by people on your friend list. So you could remove someone from the list if you don't want them tagging pictures of you :?

Re:Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (1)

Sobieski (1032500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093895)

If you have been tagged in a photo on Facebook you can press "remove tag" (assuming you are a member).

Re:Very scary, because it isn't just your content! (1)

jmpeax (936370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093937)

Mod parent up.

This is what people should be worried about. Social networking sites have privacy settings that essentially allow you to restrict access to your profile to a whitelist of other users. This makes it trivial to ensure that information you publish about yourself is not publicly available.

However, the problem is that other users can "tag" you (indicate if you are in a certain photo and where your face is) in their own photos. This means that you can't control whether these photos are public or not, as they are controlled by the uploader's (normally the person who took the photo and tagged you in it) privacy settings.

Last time I checked, Facebook allowed you to "untag" yourself in photos, thus removing the link to you, but not removing the photo itself. This really isn't a proper solution to the problem, though: people can just re-upload the same photo and re-tag you an infinite number of times. Also, the onus is then on the "tagee" to remove links to themselves - there's no provision to just disable tagging altogether, presumably because this would be seen as putting the "tag-happy" majority out.

I am offering a new service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093607)

Are you college bound?

Afraid of bad photos appearing?

Well be afraid no more!

Here's an example of what we can do for you! [amysteinphoto.com]

This is Jeff "Stoner" and Mark "The Beerman". We remade their image on the net. With our patented process, we will replace all images of you with: beers, drugs, orgies, etc... with wholesome American images.

Act now!

(C) Partier Be Gone.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093645)

It negatively affected 38% of applicants? Which means 62% benefited from having a Facebook/myspace profile? This seems to be an argument for social networking, not against it.

Pimp your profile (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093675)

The obvious next step is to make your profile a promotional tool. The "high achiever profile" may be the next big thing. You addressing the Junior Chamber of Commerce. You working on a political campaign. You being interviewed on TV.

Soon, this will be a routine part of getting into college, and there will be services to do this for you.

Re:Pimp your profile (1, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093831)

I doubt it's necessary. There's hundreds of great colleges all across America; anyone can get accepted to a decent school somewhere here. It might not be Harvard, but that doesn't matter. I went to a fairly unknown university, learned many things, expanded my thinking, gained new perspectives, and did all of the things anyone should do in college.

I remember from high school that many people are worried about getting in at all or about going to someplace famous. Getting accepted someplace that's decent isn't difficult and getting accepted someplace famous isn't important. The most important thing is deciding that you have a lust for knowledge, having a vague inclination of something you'd love to know more about, and pursuing it. Too many people with no ambition waste their time in college and come out with only a piece of paper to show for it.

Re:Pimp your profile (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093893)

getting accepted someplace famous isn't important.

It gives you a significant edge in later life. Leaf through Who's Who and notice people's colleges.

Re:Pimp your profile (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094017)

This already exists. I'm blanking on the name of the company right now, but there is one out there that will do one of two things:

1. Find crap about you on the internet and clean up your image a bit.

OR

2. Put some stuff out on the internet about you to make you look better than you really are.

Well that's a relief! (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093679)

Ya see, there's an 'unholy alliance' between government and academia; the administrators put up a price for admission, the government makes money freely available and guarantees it, and the next year the administrators can do it all over again and swim in the money each year while the students hope they live long enough to pay off the loans.

Did you notice the part where schools work hard to ensure the training has quality? You didn't miss it: it doesn't exist anymore. It's all about raising money from the government. But if *some* colleges will keep you out because you're a rabble-rouser...well, there just might be hope for sanity, yet!

[This is another reason government needs OUT of our lives. Vote Conservative, if you can find one.]

Seriously? (1)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093701)

If these people think holding up a can of beer at a party is a mark of unintelligence, they can keep their worthless degree. Of what value could their opinion on academic worthiness possibly be if they make such a superficial judgment?

Little more than rumors. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093741)

The danger here is that these social networking sights have no inherent credibility at all. How does anyone know a facebook page is the student they searched for? It could be a fake page put up by some douche-bag, it could be someone else entirely, or it could be simply an inside joke that the school miss-interpreted.

I don't buy the argument that going into Facebook or Myspace is some kind of "invasion of privacy". That idea is artificial and created by an insular view of these spaces because parents aren't generally involved in them (but obviously could be). But believing what's said on any of these sites without a huge grain of salt is just wrong. Even if 90% of it is accurate, do we really want to give that much power to any douche-bag that puts up a fake site about someone?

If you want a more concrete reason why schools shouldn't use Google searches and Facebook/Myspace for admission decisions, just think about liability. Does a school really want a big court case about someone suing them over not being admitted because of a Myspace/Facebook page? It doesn't even matter if the school is "right", it's more about the exposure and bad press they'd get.

for faculty jobs as well (4, Insightful)

call -151 (230520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093767)

There was a recent post [cosmicvariance.com] on the physics group blog Cosmic Variance about potential job applicants having webpages and getting Googled during the course of hiring for academic positions- postdocs and faculty. So it's not just the students, it's faculty as well.

There are lots of questions you can't have on a job application (sexual orientation, religion, etc.) but if an applicant volunteers that information, that is permitted. And the attitude seems to be that if information is on a webpage, it is "volunteered" to the world.

inappropriate beer photos? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093773)

Holding a beer at a party is inappropriate? Better cancel several hundred beer commercials then.

Re:inappropriate beer photos? (3, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094031)

I think you kind of missed the point. Said individuals holding the beer were in high school (AKA this is why they were applying to colleges) and, as such, were illegally in possession of beer.

That's why it was inappropriate.

Anything to reject you I guess. (0)

Skooma714 (1189671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093779)

Also, don't most people go to college to drink and fuck anyway? Why would that even be an issue?

What's wrong with considering it private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093791)

I don't see why some think it's silly that a Uni calls it a private affair. There are lots of things you see in public that you don't seek out.

I've come across a woman breastfeeding behind a display in an airport. Certainly it was in a public space yet I looked away and left her be as I considered that a private moment. Yes, I had the right to look but didn't. I think it's good a university says that certain areas aren't their business and irrelevant to their admission process. That said, I don't belong to any social networking site for a reason.

They do this for job applicants as well (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093825)

I worked for a company that had a ton of custom robots crawl Google, Usenet, The Internet Archive and a laundry list of other places your name or moniker might of left a mark. People often use an email address that goes "clevernicknameonlyIwilleveruse789@blah.com" what these things spider for is that clevernickname... part. It was mostly to embarrass people with their sophomoric attempts at debate in newsgroups or to dig up personal websites from their teen years but HR used it too. It discovered one of the applicants for the job of CFO had used his clevernickname... to bitch and rant about his last job on some obscure financial site, needless to say he did not get the job but they printed out his tirade and posted on the BB.

Be like a crooked bookkeeper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093837)

Keep two sets of books.

Benjamin Q. Smith is a totally straight-up-and-square civic minded volunteer who rescues kittens and tutors disadvantaged kids.

BenjieQ is normal and holds up cans of beer at parties.

What could possibly go wrong ....

No sympathy. (3, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093841)

If you post stuff about yourself that reflects badly on you, you have no grounds for complaint. Live with the consequences of your actions or don't post. Underage drinking may or may not be a bad idea; telling the world about it definitely is. Why should a college want to admit a moron with no judgment?

Re:No sympathy. (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094001)

But what happens if someone else has a grudge against you and post some stuff that doesn't reflect well on you?, what are you supposed to do? or a google search turns up a different person with the same name thats done crime or some similar thing, what are you supposed to do then?

Duh, and duh-er. (2, Insightful)

geofgibson (1332485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093843)

You don't show up for the job interview stoned and wearing a tie dye either. And, "We consider Facebook and MySpace their personal space,' the dean of undergraduate admissions said. 'It would feel somewhat like an invasion of privacy." is just so incredibly stupid. It is a PUBLIC site you morons. If you don't want to be known as a loadie, don't post it. Kids today, (as I sound just like my dad).

No biggie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25093845)

100 Percent of college applicants' check the college social profiles.

No story here, move on.

A can of beer? Surely you're joking, Mr. Kaplan! (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093849)

Surely you're joking, would they have turned away someone like Richard Feynman? [myspace.com] for things like this:

I went to a beer party in the Nassau Tavern in Princeton. There was a gentleman, newly arrived from Europe (Herbert Jehle) who came and sat next to me. Europeans are much more serious than we are in America because they think that a good place to discuss intellectual matters is a beer party. So, he sat by me and asked, "what are you doing" and so on, and I said, "I'm drinking beer." -- Nobel Prize lecture, 1965

A question... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093857)

Ok, so I can understand how people can search MySpace for pics, etc, since that is published to all. That's the point and utility of MySpace, so that you can promote yourself. If you are an artist or a band this is extremely useful.

However, I don't understand how people can search Facebook. I don't have a Facebook account as it seems useless unless you are part of an organization that uses it widely. The whole point of it is that it seems to be closed (and thus is useless for promoting your work).

Thus, my question is: how can people search your Facebook profile unless you are stupid enough to allow them to do so as your friend? Presumably, you have to be an especially stupid idiot to have your Facebook profile viewed by someone unintended? Or am I missing something?

I'm going out for a can of beer right now..... (1)

mr_e_cat (611996) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094009)

then I'm going to create a Facebook account for myself and publish the photo. Just to lessen the chances of ending up in a job/college or whatever run by these pinched faced puritans. Life is too short man.
And by the way USA, the drinking age (which is unenforced anyway) is 18 pretty much every where else in the world. How many kids have died in Iraq/Afghanistan before they legally had the right to hold up a beer can at a party?

Is this really an issue?! (1)

FrankBlissett (1261314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094037)

So .... for 38% of 10% of "prestigious" schools it's bad to have dirty laundry on your web page. Given that public schools are less picky, that implies that this would be a problem with at most 3% of schools. And where does this leave your typical student on the way to "State U"? Doesn't seem like much to worry about. -Frank

It's not necessarily the applicants doing the post (1)

Tanubis (815015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094059)

With Facebook, it's important to note that you don't actually have to be posting photos of yourself for them to end up online. It's become quite common in the younger generation for people to just take pictures and post them - often completely without the knowledge of the person who has their picture taken. If a person doesn't have facebook, often a profile is made for them just so people who post fanatically can tag them. It's not really the applicant's fault if an embarrassing photo ends up on the public internet this way. More and more, things that used to be private affairs are making it online and are available for the curious to look into.
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