WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The popularity of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has the world more connected than ever, but could your cyber paper trail come back to haunt you? New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David says yes, and he’s not the only one.
WWAY came across some videos online that sparked a conversation on the impact of online postings.
“Young people think they know a lot about life because they know more about their computers than their parents, but the truth is, they don’t appreciate the consequences of their actions till after they already happen,” David said.
Your online profile may mean more than you think. David says there is an increasing number of online videos and comments being used in court.
“More and more we are finding that there are crimes that are occurring either online or on video cameras, and that’s obviously much easier to prove, because all you have to do is press play,” he said.
Videos like a fight between two girls at Hoggard High School we found on YouTube are posted online every day and sometimes generate hundreds of hits.
New Hanover County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday says in videos like this caught on school property, the students will be held accountable and the video could play a key role in their punishment.
“The administrator can use anything he has, any evidence that comes across his desk to take care of the situation, and that includes disciplining students,” Holliday said.
David says videos like this can not only get you in trouble in school, but in real life too.
“They need to think about the consequences before they post these things online, because although we can do a lot to protect their name through the criminal process, there’s very little we can do to protect their image,” David said.
Holliday agrees. He says it’s a joint effort to keep a clean online reputation.
“Don’t put anything online that your mama or your daddy or your school teacher or your principal to see, because eventually they’ll wind up seeing it,” Holliday said. “And the advice I would have for the parents is please monitor your student’s computer and cell phone use.”
Holliday said the students shown in the video at Hoggard High School have already been disciplined for their actions. That video and another we found of two boys fighting in the Hoggard lockerroom were taken off YouTube this afternoon.
David says some videos found online have helped get convictions in felony cases.