Woman Denied Degree because of MySpace Profile Pic

MySpace profile pic prevents woman from getting her teaching degree, showing how powerful online profiles are

MySpace PirateA story at CNN.com describes how 27 year-old Stacy Snyder was denied a teaching degree because she posted a photo of herself on her MySpace account that the school said “promoted underage drinking”.

The photo, which shows her drinking from a cup with a pirate’s hat on has the caption “drunken pirate” underneath. The picture was taken at a 2005 Halloween Party.

This story highlights several important points about profiles and pictures…

MySpace profile pic prevents woman from getting her teaching degree, showing how powerful online profiles are

MySpace PirateA story at CNN.com describes how 27 year-old Stacy Snyder was denied a teaching degree because she posted a photo of herself on her MySpace account that the school said “promoted underage drinking”.

The photo, which shows her drinking from a cup with a pirate’s hat on has the caption “drunken pirate” underneath. The picture was taken at a 2005 Halloween Party.

This story highlights several important points about profiles and pictures:

  1. Colleagues are probably looking at your MySpace account
    Unless you take steps to make your profile private, then you probably have colleagues and other people you know looking at them. I’m constantly surprised at how often someone I know says “hey, I saw your (social networking) profile”. We should also remember that some people like to snoop…and they might not ever tell you about it.
  2. People give undue weight to your profile pictures
    This story clearly shows that the Snyder was judged at least in part because of a single photo on her profile. That’s scary to think about. First of all, it was a Halloween Party, so Snyder’s story that she wasn’t even drunk is completely plausible…it was her costume. But, even if she was drunk, is posting this picture promoting underage drinking? Hardly. The school obviously has no clue how to handle a person’s profile picture.
  3. Your profile has offline consequences
    No matter what the story is behind your pictures, your profile has offline consequences. At this point the distinction between offline and online is hardly anything…although while we still use those words there is some difference, I suppose. But think of it this way: what we do online is recorded, and is usually on someone else’s servers!
  4. People are wising up to this issue
    As for teens, they seem to be understanding the issues of public profiles more and more. As I wrote about just the other day, a new Pew study suggests that most teens understand this issue and take precautions against it by creating multiple accounts or sufficiently masking certain information in their accounts. Snyder, of course, did not, and I can’t say that I blame her because it is really a harmless party picture.

I wonder if there is more to this case. First of all, this story is a year old, and it’s just being published on CNN.com. Weird. These points just don’t add up. Despite the fact that Snyder was at a Halloween Party, she was not told of her failure to get a degree until the day before graduation in the spring. Talk about under-handed. That is so evil that I wonder if there is something more personal to this story.

As for myself, I’m a little worried that she’s drinking liquid Mr. Goodbar. That can’t be healthy.

Published: May 8th, 2007

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