In today’s connected world, it’s important to be cautious of what you’re doing on social media. Some students learned that the hard way. In April, the acceptance of 10 incoming Harvard students was rescinded because of their involvement in obscene online behavior.
Prospective Harvard Class of 2021 students were caught exchanging obscene content in a small Facebook group, which was revealed in the school’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. The group, which at one point was labeled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,” was sharing content that made fun of touchy subjects such as sexual harassment, the Holocaust and more.
Related: How to Change Your Poor Personal Reputation at Work
The paper reported on Sunday: "In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child 'piñata time.'"
While the current Harvard acceptance rate is 5.2 percent -- you’d think these students might have acted smarter about their online image. However, incoming student Cassandra Luca (who was not a part of the niche “dark” group) told The Crimson, “This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing.”
The small group originally sparked from the general Harvard Class of 2021 Facebook page, where new students could become acquainted before the fall. To become a member of the small R-rated chat group, students would have to post an inappropriate meme to the original Facebook page to prove worthiness.
Harvard admissions officers asked students via email to disclose content they shared with the group, according to a member of the group who spoke with The Crimson and whose admission offer was revoked.
Related: 6 Tools for Monitoring Your Online Reputation
This case is another reminder that everything we do online can have consequences.
“Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity or moral character,” the school wrote in the description of the official Class of 2021 Facebook page.
Rose Leadem is an online editorial assistant at Entrepreneur Media Inc.
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