When social media comes back to bite you

Apr 01 2013

Our generation has grown up with Facebook, MySpace and other forms of social media. Our timelines are representative of our years growing up. But through it all we have been warned that everyone can see all of the things that we have ever posted. From classmates to our potential employers, we have been cautioned that there might be repercussions from some of the juvenile or inappropriate things we have posted.

One person who can attest to this sort of backlash is N.C. State junior Dwayne O’Rear, a candidate for student body president whose campaign came to a screeching halt after a stream of comments he had made on Facebook about President Obama being a Muslim went viral on Sunday, March 24.

A screenshot of the comments was posted on the media sharing website Imgur, and after just six days up it has 14,721 views.

In the comments, O’Rear used obscene language and racist statements, saying that it was obvious that the President is a Muslim based on his name, Barack Hussein Obama (which he spelled Barack Huessien Obama).

After his comments were shared on Reddit and other social media sites, they caused public outcry at N.C. State. O’Rear’s other offensive comments directed at gays and women also surfaced.

The Technician, N.C. State’s student newspaper, published a column, “Why I support Dwayne O’Rear for SBP,” written by Viewpoint Editor Ahmed Amer. Amer sarcastically explained how O’Rear’s comments might not be the best way to win votes for his candidacy.

“It’s a bold move no SBP candidate has dared to try before, and if I had to guess why, I’d say it’s because there are gay students, Muslims and women on campus. If you’re not one of those three, then the choice is clear — vote O’Rear,” Amer wrote.

O’Rear’s campaign manager, junior Alex Canoutas, quit after the candidate refused to apologize to those he had offended.

The entire ordeal caused O’Rear to lose most of his support on campus.

On Wednesday, March 27, the N.C. State Election Commission announced the winner of the Student Body Presidency as junior Matthew Williams, who earned 52.3 percent of the vote.

O’Rear received just 12.1 percent of the vote.

This story explains the weight that social media now holds in our daily and our public lives. A single comment can be recorded and shared quickly all around the world. This can be especially problematic if you are running for public office. I cringe at the thought of how elections will play out when our generation is running for president with the amount of social media content that exists on each one of us.

In summary, I know this isn’t breaking news, but there should be caution taken in what is published on your social media sites.

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