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Watchful, Wary and Wise - Be Smart Online: Inappropriate Behaviour

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Two Girls go on Racist Rant

How to Ruin Your Life in 14 Minutes

These thought-provoking reflections are from David McMillan after two young girls posted a racist rant on YouTube in February 2012.


"Recently, two teenage girls in Gainesville, Florida made a video in which they spewed a truckload of racist comments. They posted the video on YouTube and subsequently ruined their lives. It took all of fourteen minutes. (Actually, probably twenty, if you account for the time it took to upload the video.)

When the video went viral, these girls' lives changed radically -- and not for the better. They have received numerous death threats, have been forced to drop out of the high school they'd been attending, and have become the latest poster children for social media stupidity. (As of this writing, at least one of the girls has publicly apologized for her remarks.) These are just the immediate repercussions. What consequences they will face in the future remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: it will be a long time before these girls can escape the shadow cast by this regrettable and truly disastrous #socialmediafail.

...In just the last few years, social media has created a new generation super-empowered individuals. We are now able to broadcast our ideas, our images, our videos, and our opinions like never before. It has increased both the size of our potential audiences and the speed with which we can reach those audiences. It's given us the tools to support charitable causes, to speak out against questionable business practices, to chastise our political leaders, and to launch social movements that can potentially change the world.

It has also given us the tools to ruin lives -- both our own as well as others."


5 key points to think about:

  1. In social media, there is no difference between public and private.
  2. Just because you can post something doesn't mean you should.
  3. Your online and offline selves might not be identical, but they're joined at the hip.
  4. Will what I post cause harm to others?
  5. The Social Media Golden Rule: post about others as you would have them post about you.


Girls forced to leave school and apologise