College staff spying on students with Facebook

Filed under: Day Care & Education, Gadgets

Nine times out of ten, the information about you that's circulating around the Internet is completely harmless -- but if we learned anything from the whole Miss New Jersey "scandal," it was "be careful what you put online." Even though, theoretically, you can protect yourself with privacy controls on sites like Facebook and MySpace, it only takes one friend re-posting your photo before it's out in the open, and no longer under your control.

Students at Oxford University are learning that the hard way, after staff started searching popular social networking sites (like Facebook), looking for photos of students breaking school policy. And by the sounds of it, officials found what they were looking for.

So what was all the fuss?

Exams at Oxford sound like they're pretty rough -- not only are they incredibly difficult, but up until last year, students were made to take them in formal academic dress. Subsequently, after they've survived their finals (and thus, theoretically, completed university), the students let loose a little, and "trash" each other with shaving cream (while also, I assume, consuming large amounts of alcohol).

But the university officials, stodgy old stick-in-the-muds that they are, object to the "disorderly conduct," and started fining the students for such behavior. After on-the-spot fines, and a switch to more casual dress didn't dissuade the "trashings," they turned to the Internet to catch these academic malfeasants after the act.

Might be worth mentioning to your college-bound teen, before they head to their first frat party, get loaded, and drunkenly post the photos to Facebook.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.