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Social Networks Can Tell Tales

High School seniors and jobseekers rush to clean up their nasty postings and naughty photos
By: Gabriela Gonzalez

The notice of “New Comments” on 17-year-old Daniela Loebl’s MySpace is common. Each day she logs on to check for messages from friends or to upload pictures from the latest party. Yet, when the time came to apply to college she knew that her social networking pages had to be cleaned up before college admission offices got a chance to see them.

“I’ve read that colleges are looking at Facebook and Myspace accounts,” Loebl said. “So, I thought it was safer to remove certain pictures from my pages before I started the application process.”

Other students have no idea. Leaving wall posts and tagging pictures has become almost second nature to college and high school students. But employers and colleges are now reviewing these sites in search of how prospective employees or students portray themselves online.

CBS News reports that Facebook has 7.5 million users while MySpace is home to more than 55 million users, according to CNN Money. There is a substantial amount of information that MySpace and Facebook users make available to the public. All of these profiles can be accessed by determined admissions officers and companies. Phrases or photographs that seem appropriate for friends can be seen as unprofessional.

Social networking sites also enable online friends to leave messages on each other’s profiles that everyone can see. “Some of the comments left by my friends may give off the wrong impression,” Jessica Levis, 17, said. “I wouldn’t want to present myself to a college admissions office that way.”

Online networking pages are now supplements to resumes and there is nowhere to hide. Corporations such as Microsoft admit that they use MySpace and Facebook to find out more about applicants.

Meanwhile, there are other schools that only rely on applications. Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University, admits that there are too many applicants at the school to search through MySpace and Facebook for each one.

“We simply wouldn’t have the time,” Guttentag said.

Still, cases of students being reprimanded for the content of their profiles are on the rise.

Kent State University recently banned athletes from posting profiles on Facebook.

“There was a ban briefly,” said Ron Kikrsey, executive director of Kent State University communications.

Although Facebook and MySpace provide a medium for personal expression, they may also leave a lasting impression on the minds of admissions offices and employers. So before you post a slide show of last night’s wild party, keep in mind that while not all colleges and employers search these sites, increasingly more and more college officials are turning to these sites for an up close and personal look at their future students.

0 0 194 11 September, 2006 Lifestyle, News, Tech September 11, 2006

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