Saturday, January 05, 2013

There's No Statute of Limitations on Stupid

While prepping for a talk at West Alabama next week, a gift from a former student, USATF PR director Jill Geer.

Let's run through the givens: Jacob was toasted, not thinking things through and way oversharing.  These are generous allows.

He committed a hit and run.  He admitted he was drinking.  He is 18, which is underage for consumption of alcohol.  And he posted, according to the ABC affiliate in Oregon:

Drivin drunk… classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P

In social media training, I call this a self inflicted wound.  Best case, you look like an ass.

In the story, Jacob claims he was just joking.  I await the outcry of the freedom of expression supporters, the privacy rights advocates, the opportunistic politicos who pass useless legislation like the New Jersey restriction on student monitoring.  (As a side note, it's already started. One of the first comment posts on the original news story called out his friends as snitches.)

The Astoria, Ore., police department is making extremely clear how they got the info.  One of Jacob's friends called in and another forwarded the post to the PD's own Facebook.  After all -- if you see something, say something -- says Homeland Security.  In their PIO post you even have "Media looking for a larger picture of the Facebook post screen capture can find it here."

What if . . .

Jacob was a student at Enormous State University.  ESU has a student conduct policy that would cover underage drinking, and perhaps has a program looking to reduce it's impact.  What would the Dean of Students do next.

And let's add, Jacob is a member of the ESU student government, in a leadership position among his peers.

Perhaps Jacob was a scholarship member of the ESU debate team, or the first chair of the ESU orchestra.

Finally, Jacob was a student-athlete.

What is ESU to do?  If ESU is in New Jersey, or one of the other states trying to limit "monitoring", they'd be in a pickle.

Jacob apparently did this as an open post on his Facebook page.  We don't know what his privacy settings were like before the event -- maybe he was set to only friends.  If so, we return to this time-tested advice: Once Posted, Always Available and Digital Assets are Extremely Portable.

No amount of laws, regulations, restrictions are going to protect Jacob when Jacob is the source.  Again, you are your own reporter, editor and publisher -- and that means no one else to blame for your misquote, misinterpretation or mistake.  For an old-school look back at some of these, go here.

In some ways, I feel for Jacob.  He's in for a time in the 21st century version of the stocks in the public square for the next 24-48 hours, and as one very apt anonymous commenter on the story said stuck for the rest of his life on background checks with employers explaining this.  Gee, reckon his call-backs for interviews might be limited based on concerns about trust issues after a hit and run?

He claims it was a joke (enter the freedom of expression crowd).  Unfortunately, you don't get to joke around much in social media when dealing with real events.  Jacob also told KATU-TV that he hit ice and slid into the car.

Ah, so you did hit the car?  And you did flee from the scene of an accident?  And you then posted it on Facebook.

Guess what?  The PD was NEVER going to arrest you for drunk driving, or even underage drinking.  Can't prove a thing.  (Now, if you have a bong in your dorm room on Facebook or pictures of doing shots from your MixMaster, well, different story . . .)

Because of the post, police matched up Jacob's car damage with the hit-and-run report that would have gone down as an unsolved insurance claim.

Won't do much good at that point to delete the post -- the evidence is in.

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