As far as professionalism and career development are concerned, some would suggest that Facebook can be a beneficial networking tool to keep in contact with others and help promote businesses, foundations and other organizations.
It seems, however, that Facebook and similar social networking sites may be more detrimental than instrumental.
One nursing student at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Kansas is a prime example of the negative implications that Facebook may hold for one’s future.
Doyle Byrnes posted a picture of her holding a human placenta with some classmates on her Facebook in December. Though the professor seemed to have no apparent issues with the photo at the time, administration had different thoughts, and Byrnes, along with four other classmates, were expelled.
Byrnes who had just a few months remaining until graduation, now has a lawsuit pending against the school.
According to Switched, an online publication, JCCC President Terry Calaway noted the offense as a “lack of respect and a complete disregard for the ethical standards of the nursing profession.”
The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that the director of nursing for the college, Jeanne Walsh, said in a letter to Byrnes that the actions were a “disruption to the learning environment and did not exemplify the professional behavior that we expect in the nursing program.”
Incidentally, the disruption went un-noted by the instructor, and the expulsion came only after Byrnes’ own documentation on her personal Facebook.
The issue at hand seems to be students’ and other aspiring professionals’ careless nature when posting incriminating photos, status updates and wall posts on personal Facebook pages, crossing the fine line between social networking and professionalism.
Technology now provides the potential for self-incrimination to the fullest extent. Despite implied privacy on Facebook, technology creates a medium for employers and administrators to divulge into the personal lives. Students and professionals have seen severe consequences for what they reveal about themselves on Facebook.
It would follow that aspiring professionals need to drastically separate personal social networking and Facebook pages from any or all professional endeavors.
The consequences of doing otherwise can be easily prevented with some common sense and better judgment of what gets posted on these social networking sites.
Even if a profile is set to private, any information that’s posted can become public if a Facebook user with access to posts and other information on one’s profile decides to re-post that material elsewhere.
Some would call Byrnes’ expulsion unjust and the photo an innocent documentation of a student’s enthusiasm. But despite whether the expulsion was merited, this is truly a lesson in just how detrimental social networking can be if it isn’t navigated with extreme caution.
Tara Petzoldt is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.