THOMASBORO — Praireview-Ogden Junior High students learned about responsible — and irresponsible — social media use at a school seminar.
Dan Bolsen, a University of Illinois academic counseling graduate assistant, spoke to students last week about the power of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
"Social media, if handled the wrong way, is a freight train that can run you over and ruin your career," Bolsen told them.
Bolsen read some tweets he found online from PVO students. Some used crude language and profanities.
"Is that how you want to be portrayed?" he asked. "All it takes is one tweet to destroy a brand."
Bolsen told students the UI athletic department had sponsored a talk from Florida-based 180 Communications, which touts its media relations expertise in sports, fitness, health and technology. The department had all student-athletes attend the event.
The company had an intern become Facebook friends with numerous athletes and follow their accounts on Twitter. The intern, whom none of the athletes had ever met, then was able to find tweets and posts some athletes wanted kept private. Those posts were then showed during the presentation.
Bolsen said some of the athletes were embarrassed by what was shown and deleted the posts.
"Making it private helps but nothing is truly private," Bolsen said. "There are all sorts of ways we can find it. We will find it, I promise you."
Bolsen's message: "Think before you hit send or post it."