A prominent lawyer says one of his clients was interrogated during a college admissions interview because he followed Infowars founder Alex Jones on Twitter.
Attorney Bradley Shear shared the disturbing tale on his website in an article titled, “Colleges Are Rejecting Applicants Who Follow Controversial People On Twitter.”
“While one of my legal clients (a 17-year-old teen) was being interviewed by one of the most competitive colleges in the country he was asked why he was following Alex Jones on Twitter,” Shear writes. “My client, a teenager expected to talk about his stellar grades, top test scores, amazing extracurricular activities and volunteer work, but the interviewer focused on who he was connecting with online. My client had never ‘liked’ or re-tweeted any of Mr. Jones’ content. His alleged ‘transgression’ was that he followed Mr. Jones on Twitter. That was it.”
Shear says the student’s parents brought the “troubling situation” to his attention, and upon further investigation, Shear discovered that the admissions interviewer in question was an ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders, whom Alex Jones and Infowars have regularly critiqued for his socialist worldview and policies.
“Political discrimination has no place during the college admissions process and I told the college’s admissions director that the situation must be properly resolved immediately,” Shear explains. “The college didn’t want any negative publicity about this matter so it quickly resolved the situation to my client’s satisfaction.”
Shear goes on to reveal that it is becoming more common for college admissions committees to seek the web surfing history of prospective students, which can be held against them – a warning he corroborates with a link to a New York Times article detailing how data mining on millions of minors is taking place in order to create ‘student profiles’ that can be used for dubious purposes.
“Many college admissions offices such as Harvard are encouraging anyone who has ‘digital dirt’ on an applicant or accepted student to send it to the admissions department so they can reject an applicant or revoke an offer,” Shear says. “This happens regularly and finally made international headlines last year when Harvard revoked offers to at least 10 applicants based up their digital footprint.”
Shear asserts that his aforementioned client’s experience is hardly unique, and that the increasingly polarized political climate in the United States is warping what should be a non-partisan application process to seek higher education.
“This is not an isolated incident. I have dealt with multiple similar social media matters that focus on President Donald Trump’s opinions and actions along with those of other prominent voices (e.g. those considered very conservative or very liberal) whose opinions about hot-button issues of public concern may not be shared by a majority of the population (e.g. members of an admissions committee.)”
Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst