COLUMN: 'Delete' doesn't last forever

I guess it is kind of crazy how quickly things spread on the Internet. It only takes a millisecond to scroll down on your phone and watch your news feed refresh, and then 160 characters pop up letting you catch up on what has happened in the world since your last browse.

For Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond, the two Steubenville football players who were found guilty of raping of a 16-year-old girl, I am sure they are regretting every millisecond they spent on the Internet after the act that has cost them each a minimum of one year in juvenile jail.

Mays tweeted a photo of the girl naked and passed out, and a friend made a video of one of the assaults. The YouTube video, viewed more than a million times, showed a group of friends joking about the girl's assault for 12 minutes.

I'll be honest, I don't think about every single tweet I send or every Facebook picture I upload, but social media has completely changed every aspect of our society. Now more than ever, I think people should be more aware of what they are posting on the Internet because it can truly come back to haunt you.

It is sad to me that this poor victim had to reenact her night the next day through social media components. She gradually learned the details of her brutal attack via text exchanges and forwarded photos, but, disturbingly, by watching the video.

I believe we live in a world that is completely open to the undisclosed webpages and connections we have via Internet. Is there really any such thing as privacy on the Internet?

The Internet is an open book, and everything that is posted can come back to the surface in terms of fair game. I am not saying this is what it takes for people to learn to be careful about what they are posting, but I think this should really open people's eyes. A drunk photo you might think is funny is not necessarily the smartest move in any situation.

Lawyers in the case noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for teens today. People might assume the texts they send are not something that can be traced back to get them in trouble, but the reality is that every single text can be later identified and read.

Tragedies like these are sad and horrific, but I hope this case specifically can be a learning experience for many students. Just because something on the Internet is deemed private doesn't mean it won't later be exposed. Tweet with caution, ladies and gentlemen.


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