Posting a photo of yourself holding a giant bag of marijuana on Facebook and writing “Me and my friend Mary Jane” under it is asking for trouble.
In a speech to about 65 students at the University of St. Thomas in November, C.L. Lindsay, an attorney who runs a non-profit dealing with legal problems that often occur on campuses, warned students to think before they post.
“Assume anything you put online will stay there forever,” he said, so don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mom, employers or professors to see.
“Think about the offline equivalent first … If you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it online,” Lindsay told the audience.
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Lindsay founded Coalition for Student & Academic Rights, a non-profit network of attorneys whose primary goal is to educate the academic world about the law. Lindsay’s social networking seminar is just one of six that range from how to legally throw a party to how to challenge an unfair grade.
During an often humorous lecture, which Lindsay delivers at colleges across the country, he described the cases he has heard and dealt with over the years concerning students.
Lindsay displayed incriminating Facebook photos and their captions, like one titled of a guy under a tree in a public park with “Me smoking weed” written under it.
By posting such photos, young people are targeting themselves and almost asking to get in trouble with the law, Lindsay said. The more information you put out about yourself and your actions, the more people are going to know and the easier it is for you to get caught.
According to Lindsay, 44 percent of employers check the network sites of their potential employees and use them in making decisions. His warnings led one student to act. “The first thing I did when I got home was change all my privacy settings to the highest possible levels,” said Kriti Kumar, a freshman at the University of St. Thomas, after hearing Lindsay’s lecture.
He also talked about how plagiarism and cheating can get students in trouble. Don’t do stupid things like take essays off the Web and use it as your own, he advised, because there is a high likelihood that you will get caught.
If there is one thing Lindsay wants students to remember from his lecture, it is that if you think you might be in any kind of trouble, act quickly and talk to someone before it grows more serious and dangerous.
In 1998, C.L. Lindsay left his practice as an attorney in New York and founded the Coalition for Student & Academic Rights Co-Star helps college students with many legal issues. He also wrote “The College Student’s Guide to the Law: Get a Grade Changed, Keep Your Stuff Private, Throw a Police-Free Party, and More!”