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Twitter use provides classroom, life lessons

“Your digital footprint is forever,” a public relations expert said. “Ask yourself whether this is something you would want your mother or grandmother to see.”

The Twitter account @UKMakeouts, which features photos of smooching couples, has become a learning tool in one University of Kentucky classroom.

BlueCoastLive, an online news site created by UK multimedia students, reported Dec. 6 as students were heading into finals about the rampant popularity of the account, which drew 5,000 followers in 24 hours, more than 10,000 followers in 48 hours, spawned a related #UKMakeouts hashtag, and continues to attract new eyes.

Some pictures are sweet, some not so much; a few are lewd by any measure. Most do not show identifiable faces. Nearly all seem to involve some kind of beverage in a plastic cup, and those being photographed seem to be unaware.

UK assistant professor Kakie Urch said @UKMakeouts was the talk of the campus before her digital news class last week. She saw it as a real-world opportunity to create a breaking, live story about appropriate Twitter use for the web. Students monitored the site, checked with university officials for comment, and researched rules that students might want to consider before posting to Twitter.

For example, the class found that Twitter policy probably wouldn’t ban the photos outright. But, BlueCoastLive noted in the story, misidentifying a student in a photo tag or hashtag could open the poster to charges of libel.

“We all learned a bunch that day,” said Drew Teague, a UK senior, including that all Twitter posts are being collected by the Library of Congress.

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