It’s a fact of modern life: many employers and schools carefully screen applicants’ personal lives on social media. That can land these prospective employees and students in hot water, as happened this week when Harvard pulled acceptance offers from at least 10 students when it was discovered they had traded “sexually explicit and offensive” messages on Facebook.
According to the student newspaper The Harvard Crimson, the offensive chat sprung out of a general chat for incoming students in the class of 2021. In order to gain entry to the private group, called “Harvard memes for horny bourgeoisie teens,” chat members had to post an offensive meme in the general chat. According to the Crimson, once members were admitted to the group, the content got even worse.
“In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children,” The Crimson reporter Hannah Natanson wrote. “Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups.”
Once Harvard administrators learned of the group, they allegedly asked each member to write a statement describing every image they sent in the group and explaining their actions. Ultimately, the prestigious school decided to rescind offers from at least 10 students.
If nothing else, this case should illustrate how careful every user needs to be about what they post on Facebook. Even in a private chat, authorities can discover what’s being said. Of course, it’s always bad conduct to post offensive memes, but it’s important to remember that there’s always a way your posts can come back to haunt you.