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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Your MySpace is our MySpace

I've been asked more than once whether UVA looks applicants up via the web, using Google, MySpace, LiveJournal or one of the many other websites that allow students to create webpages and blogs.

For the most part, the answer would be no. We don't really have time to search for all 16,000 applicants online. However, if an applicant mentions involvement in something in particular, we might just take a look at it. One of my colleagues reviewed the application of a student who claimed to be involved in producing a fairly popular website. Curious, my colleague looked him up and couldn't find any mention of him on the site. Items he said he wrote were attributed to another person. This student wasn't extraordinary and his claims didn't help his case at all.

While UVA might not be looking for student information online, officials at some other schools are. Newsweek and USA Today (here and here) have written about this. There are numerous instances of information posted on websites like MySpace coming back to haunt students. I keep reading that students consider this an invasion of privacy. Why do they think this? Isn't it called the World Wide Web for a reason?