No matter what people think, content that is put on Facebook is available to anyone and everyone. Don’t get me wrong, privacy settings are great – but they aren’t 100 percent effective. Back in March, Facebook had a security lapse that allowed the Associated Press to access anyone’s photo albums. These things happen and they are inevitable.
That’s why new members of the NYPD are encouraged to clean out their Facebook and MySpace profiles. For the first time, the NYPD is formally investigating all social networks to review the lives of every recruit who wants to be a police officer. This new initiative can’t come at a better time, as Newsday reports:
The NYPD initiative, which went into effect when the current Police Academy class was sworn in Jan. 8, comes at a fitting time. Rookie cop Christian Torres, arrested last month and charged with robbing a Sovereign Bank in Pennsylvania and a Sovereign branch in Manhattan twice, had a MySpace account that would make any NYPD investigator wince. The page, now private and accessible only to his friends, listed his profession as “Oink,” an apparent reference to “pig,” a derogatory term for police.
The page also had a cartoon about robbing banks and a video in which Torres is seen skating on a half-pipe ramp. The video, police sources said, struck Internal Affairs as the work of an immature man and not representative of the serious image the NYPD wants to project.
Clearly, not everyone has thought twice before posting something to Facebook. Last week, AllFacebook.com reported that Andy Robinson, a member of the University of Buffalo basketball team posted an ad on Facebook in which he offered to pay someone to write a paper for him:
I am paying anybody who have read the book ‘there are no children here’ by Alex Kotlowitz $30-40 which in some classes you have to read at UB (even more money if you have to read the book a little more!!) to write a 3-4 page paper, on a couple questions which was assigned.
This post effectively ended Andy’s basketball career at the University of Buffalo.
The issues with security and privacy may be best summarized by Clint Boulton, in his Q&A with RaceTalk in March, in which he said, “The social network has, unfortunately, become a snooping tool.”
The lesson here is that even though items posted on social networks may not be meant for just anyone to see, assume that it will be seen by everyone. Better to be safe than sorry.