Now that parents have started patrolling Facebook (coaches, college admissions reps and employers do, too), many teens are switching to mobile apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. While that might help you elude parental perusal, at least for a while, it doesn’t erase the larger problem if you are posting questionable content.
Not necessarily a snap, or instant, for that matter
Once you post it, it can be permanent. If you’re relying on that nude shot on Snapchat to self-destruct within 10 seconds -- don’t. Snapchat doesn’t guarantee the image will disappear. And even if it does, the recipient can capture it with another device before it does, so once you’ve sent it, you have lost control of it. And with the right tools, it is possible to undelete the files.
Viewing and sharing such photos can result in a lot more trouble than a little embarrassment: If the subjects are under age, it could also expose you to child pornography charges.
What about that ill-advised rant that you just had to send or post, assuming you would soon delete it and all would be well. Think no one’s going to be able to see that tomorrow? Think again.
It goes farther, faster -- and stays longer
It’s important to know that the internet is not as instantaneous and responsive as many people think it is. According to Dave Taylor, a technology writer who manages the AskDaveTaylor tech Q&A site, search engines like Google and Bing “operate by making a copy of every single page that they index and scour for customers. The copy of the page that just matched your latest search could be days, weeks or even months old.”
Now enter the Twittersphere: Did you know that the Library of Congress is archiving every tweet? It certainly is, according to a 2010 Library of Congress blog: “Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.
“That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress.”
Yep, your tweet could live on forever. In the best-case scenario, you said what you meant, and meant what you said – and hopefully it isn’t something that will come back to bite you.
“When I talk with teens, I drum into them the harsh truth, that the Internet has no delete key,” Taylor writes on Safeteens.com. “Whatever you post, be it a photograph, a short video, a status update, a story or a tweet, make sure it’s something you want to live on for years and years into the future.”