Veronika Treit

First, you are born. Then, you start walking and talking. Then, when you finally become 13 years old, you join Facebook. After having created your profile, you lean back in your chair, satisfied with yourself: now, you are a part of it! All your friends who have not yet reached the age of 13 will watch you with envy as you sit in front of your computer or with your mobile phone in hand, “like-ing”, tagging, commenting and “friend-ing” people. You will feel like you are on top of the world. But are you?

“Like” it or not, Facebook is full of traps and dangers. When you apply for a job, the Human Resource Director will be sure to check your Facebook profile: after all, it is her/his responsibility to make sure that the company does not hire a party-person who’s favorite hobbies are “seeing how many shots of Tequila I can down in five minutes” or “hanging out with mates.” But we do not have to go too far up the career ladder to find another problem with “uncensored Facebook”: a Nashville high school basketball wiz got expelled from school for writing: “I’ma kill em all. I’ma bust this (swear word) up from the inside like nobody’s ever done before,” after he got into a fight with his coaches. Also, several people were fired from work for using Facebook while being at home on “sick-leave”; or watering their crops on “Farmville” while at work.

Beware of photos, too: uploading an inappropriate picture of yourself will not help you gain the title “responsible adult” any earlier. Think of what your fellow students/ co-workers; parents; teachers and bosses will think of you if they see you drunk and half naked dancing on a table. There has also been a courtroom case of child pornography linked to inappropriate pictures in 2008 when a 15 year-old girl was arrested and charged for having sent nude photos of herself to friends.

Courtroom cases do not end here, however. A college junior was sentenced to two years in prison after hitting a woman with his car, while he was driving drunk, injuring the woman seriously, and then showing up to a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner. The woman he hit was still in hospital. Someone took a picture of him, uploaded it to Facebook, and voilá! Two years in prison.

Last but not least, the most serious case of Facebook VS The People: an 18-year-old girl, Nona Belomesoff’s murder. A 20-year-old man set up a fake profile, claiming to be Christopher James Dannevig, working for an animal welfare group. Nona Belomesoff, the animal-lover, “friended” him and he invited her to take part in a camping trip where they were to look for injured animals in the area of Campbelltown in New South Wales, Australia. Her body was found two days later with no sign of her killer. This makes one think again about Facebook, doesn’t it?