Another information overload

December 15, 2010

by Danielle Cintron, Editor

As often as network news broadcasts the tragedies of the world, never before has the murder of a 15-year-old girl affected me. While leaving my Spanish class last Tuesday, my professor stopped me to ask about the young La Place girl who was beaten to death over the weekend. While it was not surprising that this information was new to me, it was baffling that such a story from my hometown would receive national coverage. Unfortunately murders happen every day, but when one hits as close to home as this one did for me, it is difficult not to be interested in the investigation.

Taylor Adams, a high school sophomore, was left home alone Saturday, Dec. 4, when her mother, a security guard for a local company, who often worked 12-hour shifts, left for work. Adams’ mother said she last spoke to her daughter at 9 p.m. that night. A neighbor was the last to see Adams; the teenager was speaking to a friend in her driveway at 11:30 p.m. 

Adams’ mother discovered her daughter’s beaten and bloodied body in her bedroom slightly before 6:30 a.m. She immediately called 9-1-1. Upon initial investigation, the St. John Sheriff’s Office released the information that there were no signs of forced entry or sexual assault, but there was evidence that Adams’ struggled with her attacker. The most interesting aspect of this case was the use of Facebook in the investigation. Detectives said they used Adams’ Facebook account to determine when she was most likely attacked. 

Based on her Facebook activity, they believed her death was between 1 and 6 a.m. St. John officials arrested suspect Earnest Joseph III, 27, Wednesday, Dec. 8 in Gulfport, Miss. Detectives said that by studying Adams’ Facebook account, they were able to pin down the relationship between Joseph and Adams. 

According to a local news station, Sheriff Jones said Joseph knew Adams. In fact, Joseph was living with his grandmother in a house down the street from the victim. Authorities said the two had communicated before Adams’ murder.

During a press conference, Jones made sure to comment on the negative effects of putting personal information on Facebook, a point with which I cannot help but agree. It isn’t practical to think that by putting a phone number, e-mail account or home address won’t bite you in the butt at some point. The habit of constantly updating your status with where you are and what you’re doing can obviously be dangerous. 

So why has the need to share this information become almost an addiction?

With applications like Places, people have not only just said where they are, but they have given out a GPS tracking on themselves. To me, this is crazy. It’s as if people want to be stalked and are drawing the bull’s-eye on themselves. 

Putting information about yourself on the web is not just dangerous in a safety sense. Everyone has access to the information displayed on the Internet. Features like photo tagging cause problems among many social circles. Digital disasters of yourself can end up on the web with a link directly to you, name attached. 

Professionally, this is a problem. A publisher of mine once said, “As long as we work together, we can’t be Facebook friends. I don’t want to see your drunken pictures and I don’t want you to see mine. When you leave then I’ll add you.”

This stuck with me. Getting older and meeting more colleagues means that more people will want to know more about you. As a journalist, I want to get my name out there, but I don’t think that having a picture of me shot gunning a beer needs to be attached to that.

My advice to those on social networking sites, keep your personal information for yourself. Just because you “know” your Facebook friends does not mean you need to tell them every detail of your life.

Danielle Cintron is a senior journalism and English major from La Place who serves as editor and onine editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to dnc005@latech.edu.