The stories of teens getting into trouble on or through Facebook seem to be getting more numerous by the day. In the past week, we’ve seen reports of teens having the police called on them for a brawl that broke out at a party advertised on Facebook, and others that were arrested after posting videos of their criminal activity on the popular social network. Yet another teen has been arrested for harassing another user through Facebook. What’s gotten into teenagers these days?
Their actions are nothing new. The platform for sharing their stories, however, is landing some teens in some very hot water. In a now familiar scenario, the police were called to a party that became rowdy when hundreds of teenagers tried to crash an event that was posted on Facebook, according to The Daily Mail. This is the latest in a string of similar situations in the UK where a private party advertised on Facebook reached the masses and led to dangerous fall-outs resulting in injuries and property damages.
The Hartford Courant also reports that 18-year-old Ian Guilfoil in Newtown, Connecticut has been charged with three felony counts of risk of injury to a minor and misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and reckless driving after he posted a video of himself performing these criminal acts. How did Guilfoil get caught up? A parent saw the video on Facebook and called the police.
Guilfoil isn’t the only Newtown teen that has been arrested due to their Facebook activity. A 15-year-old girl was charged Monday with harassment for allegedly threatening her fellow student via Facebook.
Have we learned nothing from MySpace, folks?
With all the cool features and games and applications to be found on social networking platforms like Facebook, it’s easy to forget that such online sites are in fact ways in which to carry out social acts, many of which easily mimic activity we see in the offline world. So seeing teens act in such a manner isn’t necessarily surprising, it’s just too easy to avoid. I was once a stupid teen on social networks, and have admittedly learned my lesson on what to share and what not to share. And given today’s privacy options (especially on Facebook) there’s even fewer excuses for the teens of today.
The takeaways (teens, pay attention):
1. Keep private party advertisements private. Granted, it’s easy enough for another user to share your private invite with a few hundred of their closest friends, but try to instill a sense of exclusivity at private parties. And get your parents to hire security.
2. Don’t post illegal activity on the web. Matter of fact, don’t video tape yourself in the act of performing criminal acts. But if you must video tape yourself doing things that could get you arrested, don’t post it on a social network where sharing media across one’s social graph is par for the course.
3. Don’t harass other people via a social network. It’s highly traceable, even with all the anonymity of the web!
Such moments of lecturing from an ex-teen may seem redundant, but it could become a growing problem for Facebook. The social network has managed to avoid many of the teen-related stigmas that have plagued MySpace for the past couple of years. But with Facebook having opened its platform to all users , coupled with the extreme growth in traffic and popularity, Facebook may be stuck with this rap until the next fad comes along and takes the plight of overly-public teens with it.