– Students talk about social media at News at Noon’s “Social Media:Owning Your Identity”
PHOTO: Students listen as Prof. Perry Drake during News at Noon on Nov. 13, 2013. Photo by Adeela Langrial for The Current 2013 ©

By Simonne Kimble, Staff Writer for The Current

Faculty and students participated in the November 13 “News at Noon” discussion titled “Social Media: Owning Your Identity” from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Century Room C of the Millennium Student Center. “News at Noon” is co-sponsored by The Current and The New York Times, with support from The Center for Teaching and Learning.

The discussion was led by Perry D. Drake, professor of social and digital media marketing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Drake jump-started the discussion with the following question: “Do we need laws to protect teens from themselves?”

Younger and younger kids are joining online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. Is it the government’s right to step in and protect teenagers by giving them the option of permanently deleting content on social networking sites so that it can never be used against them? Or should this be left to the parents?

Some students and faculty participating in the discussion believed that the government should have nothing to do with teenage situations on social networks unless there’s a threat of harm to others.

Ali Lillie, senior, marketing, was one of many students who disagreed with any such law.

“I think it is something they should keep their noses out of,” Lillie said.

Multiple students and faculty felt that if a teenager is not mature enough or if a parent does not trust their child to use social networking sites responsibly, then they should not have be allowed to have accounts on such sites. Other participants disagreed, citing the possibility that government involvement could help address issues on social networks that parents cannot control.

California legislators are the first in trying to put in place measures that would “give minors the legal right to scrub away their online indiscretions,” as it says in Somini Sengupta’s article, “Sharing With a Safety Net.”

On Facebook last February, teenager Justin Carter made a threatening school shooting post that got him a felony terrorism charge for about six months. His father likes the idea of what the California legislation is trying to do but still questions it.

“They should be allowed to delete it, but then again is it really deleted?” Carter said.

A situation at Biggby Coffee that Drake brought attention to turned heads. An employee of the company located in Livionia, Michigan was terminated because of an inappropriate tweet made about Trayvon Martin. The exact tweet read “I want to thank god…for that bullet that killed Trayvon Martin.” Was it appropriate for this teenager to get fired for voicing his opinion?

While the answers to that question proved to be a contentious topic, it lead to a discussion on whether the way that people portray themselves on social media is a reflection of their employer. Many felt that if an employer feels that the individual reflects badly on their organization, it’s their decision if they want to keep that employee or not.

Drake also noted that younger teens are going to Twitter or Instagram, instead of Facebook, due to privacy reasons. He asked the participants whether they believed teenagers leaving Facebook was just a phase or if it would prove permanent. The majority of the participants believed that the migration is just a phase, as Facebook is an easy way for people to keep up with old friends from high school and past jobs.

Free pizza was provided for everyone in attendance. “News at Noon” discussions about current events will take place every month. For more information visit www.thecurrent-online.com

“News at Noon” is a monthly forum for students and faculty about current events. It is co-sponsored by New York Times and The Current. It is supported by the Office of Student-Life and the Center for the Teaching and Learning.

©  The Current 2013