If failed, the test gives users the option of posting a humbling admission to their Facebook page: “[Person’s name] is too intoxicated to post right now.”

This feature, although optional, has raised concerns among some social media experts in higher education. Jill Wiggins, director of career planning and development at Drury University in Springfield, Mo., said the admittance of failure would be “digital dirt” as damaging as a drunken tweet or Facebook comment.

“That’s pretty much creating the same problem,” Wiggins said of the optional “too drunk to post” status. “If it’s telling people that you’re too intoxicated to make a post, that’s enough for an employer to rule you out.”

National statistics prove what campus officials already know: Students use social networking websites in droves, and many log on to Twitter and Facebook several times a day.

Seventy-two percent of adults ages 18 to 29 use social networking websites, and those with a post-high school education are more likely to maintain online profiles, according to 2009 research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Forty-five percent of adult respondents said they have one social networking profile, and 36 percent have profiles on two sites. Only 16 percent said they have three social profiles.

Drury’s Digital Dirt Self-Audit Form poses a laundry list of questions to college students who might not understand the lasting impact of social media posts. The form asks students to conduct a web search of their name and determine if they’re comfortable with what they found.

The form warns against posting phone numbers, addresses, and schedules to social networking websites, and it asks students if they would be OK with a potential employer perusing their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or MySpace pages.

Wiggins said students’ frustration with having their online profiles investigated by employers has waned in recent years.

“What we first saw was students were mad that we were invading their territory,” she said. “We’re not debating whether it’s ethical if employers do this, because they’re already doing it. … And now, most [college students] have a story they can tell about a person who lost a job because of something inappropriate” posted on a social media site.

Students said the Social Media Sobriety Test could be a handy tool for anyone who makes pit-stops at their Facebook news feed before hitting the sack.


Add your opinion to the discussion.