College applicants are being rejected for merely following the Alex Jones account on Twitter, a digital privacy expert has warned.
Bradley Shear, who runs the Shear on Social Media Law blog, claims one of his clients was rejected from a prestigious college after an admissions interviewer scoured the student’s social media account and found she followed Alex Jones 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. 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 researched the student’s social media account and found he was a supporter of Democrat socialist Bernie Sanders, whom Alex Jones certainly does not support.
Shear says he managed to satisfactorily resolve the student’s issue after speaking with the admissions director, who “didn’t want any negative publicity about this matter.”
The admissions office investigation into his client’s social media connections is a troubling sign universities are attempting to reshape society by discriminating against students based on political ideologies, Shear explains.
“This data collection and usage is an entirely new level of social engineering that is trying to change society,” warns Shear, pointing to a Washington Post study which found students already enter college with a more hostile view on free speech than 50 years ago.
“While I am not a listener or supporter of Mr. Jones’… his audience has every right to watch his videos and listen to him and connect with him online since we live in a free country,” notes the online privacy advocate, adding he rejects Jones’ 9/11 inside job theories.
“Unfortunately, some college admissions officials believe that applicants who connect with him online regardless of whether they believe Mr. Jones’ theories should not be provided an opportunity to attend the country’s most prestigious higher education institutions.”
The problem, which includes admissions offices scouring through students’ Google search history, is endemic among Ivy league and other prestigious universities, where conservative viewpoints are extremely marginalized.
Shear advises students carefully review their social media and search history before applying to colleges.
“This example demonstrates why teens need to not just audit their digital profiles and lock down their social media accounts during the college application process, they must also ensure that their web surfing history is not collected by an admissions committee because innocent digital activity is being used to reject students from their dream colleges,” says Shear, who offers students a service which audits social media activities.