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Court interns get a lesson in social media accountability

July 14, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Robin Sheares and Leah Richardson from the Kings County Supreme Court ran a program designed to teach the court’s summer interns how to properly utilize social media to better prepare them for college and the workplace. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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Students from the Kings County Supreme Court Student Employment and Internship Program got a chance to sit down with a couple of judges and a court employee for a lecture titled “The Impact of Social Media” in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday.

The program was run by Leah Richardson of the court’s IT Department and Hon. Robin Sheares and Hon. Deborah Dowling. It was an hour-and-a-half-long session designed to help prepare students for college and future jobs.

“It’s important to discuss the impact of the technology that is in all of our lives,” Richardson said. “Students need to know the appropriate way to utilize technology and social media. These days, your digital persons and identity is as important as your physical one, and landing an internship, getting accepted to graduate school and getting a job can and will be impacted by what you do on social media.”

The program wasn’t all about what you shouldn’t do online, although plenty of that was discussed. Instead it focused on both the good and bad aspects of technology and included many helpful tips the students could employ to utilize social media most appropriately.

“There are going to be people who use it positively and there are people who will use it negatively,” Sheares said. “We’re not saying that everyone here will have poor grades because of they’re on social media too often, but be honest and realize that it can cause problems. You now know better so you need to do better. We just want you to know what we know so that when you go to college, when you start working, that you are ready.”

A big topic discussed was privacy online. Privacy settings were explained and Richardson told the students to check up on their privacy settings often to avoid potential identity theft or issues involving stalkers. She also explained that nearly everything that goes online is trackable and usually never goes away.

“Before posting, ask yourself, is this something that you would want your mom, dad, professor or sibling to see?” Richardson said. “While you think that only your friends can see the photos of you holding a beer, you can never be sure where those photos will end up.

“The Library of Congress is currently saving all tweets regardless of user’s privacy settings, Snapchat photos do not disappear after 10 seconds and courts can and do subpoena text message history,” Richardson continued. “When you think that you deleted something from your phone and it’s gone, it’s not really gone.”

The group explained how it’s not just one or two bad tweets that can make you look bad and warned against having an overly negative persona online. Dowling warned that it’s best not to post items to social media when angry.

“Anytime you are that angry it’s better to step back, think about it and not put anything in writing,” Dowling said. “I’ve been angry sometimes where I wanted to write a hot email, but you have to know that once it’s out there you can’t retract it. Whatever you put in writing, that’s part of your footprint.”

The students were also warned about how sexting can get them into trouble, especially considering that many of them have friends ages 16 and younger. She warned that just because someone is their friend, naked pictures, even unsolicited pictures, can get them in a lot of trouble.

“If you don’t get anything out of this workshop, you need to know that everything that you do is trackable,” Sheares warned. “I may not be able to do it, Ms. Richardson from the IT Department may not be able to do it, your family and friends might not be able to, but the man, whoever that man is, the man can track what you’ve been doing online so be careful.”


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