January 02, 2009

The Long Reach of the Law -- How Far Will It Go?

Driving home from an afternoon at the movies ('Doubt' -- yes, go see it!), my husband and I were listening to WCBS 880 out of New York City when we heard a report of a teen arrested after a video allegedly showing him doing 120 mph on I-84 was posted on YouTube and subsquently posted on Facebook. (Read full story here.)

We have all read about inappropriate content being posted on Facebook and resulting consequences. I have been reading more and more about prospective employers and colleges using Facebook as part of a background check. But now we've got law enforcement using multimedia posted on Facebook to issue arrests!

No, by no means am I condoning the alleged actions of the driver. But I have to wonder how our legal system will be dealing with similar issues in the future (or rather, now) as the (at times, not so) well-meaning vigilantes of the world record our every movement and action and post it for the world to see (with and/or without our knowledge).

Were I teaching Middle or High School, I would definitely use this incident to reinforce the fact that in this digital world, once something is posted on the internet it is posted forever -- and for every action there are consequences.

I believe that as educators, we need to provide every student with the knowledge and means to be a responsible digital citizen. Not doing so would be doing them a great disservice. These lessons need to begin at the elementary level and continue as the student goes through middle and high school.