Post in haste …
5:28 p.m. CDT, March 18, 2011
Alexandra Wallace, a third-year political science major at UCLA, posted an Internet video titled “Asians in the Library” that claimed, among other things, Asian students talk too loudly on their cell phones. Her video is utterly crass — she talks of “hordes of Asians” and chastises students in the library who were on their phones “checking on everybody from the tsunami thing.”
Wallace removed her ugly rant from YouTube within days and made a half-hearted apology. But the clip has been viewed several million times and can still be found on numerous websites. Wallace has been harshly and justly criticized and says she has received death threats.
You’d think by now everyone — particularly college students — would know you don’t select your audience on the Internet. When you post something, it’s out there and it’s forever. Which makes us wonder if Wallace calculated that. She seems to be on her way to a perverse, Snooki-like stardom.
Whatever her calculation, “Asians in the Library” is way beyond her control now. And that’s a good reminder that everything you do on the Web is chronicled. It’s your digital footprint. When you use Google, the company logs information about the query and stores the data. Twitter, the 140-character-or-less social networking site, provides records of every message to the Library of Congress. Some college admission boards check prospective students’ Facebook pages for evidence of illegal activities such as underage drinking. Note to soon-to-be grads: so do employers.
Put a racist rant on YouTube, it will get noticed.
Wallace had competition for Internet nitwit of the week. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired by AFLAC insurance —he was the voice of the duck — after he made crude comments on Twitter about the tragedy in Japan. Gottfried deleted his offensive tweet and issued an apology. Too late. He was fired, though his standing as an outrageous comedian has probably been enhanced.
Gottfried’s out of a job. Wallace may have a hard time finding work after she graduates, outside of a reality TV show. Your digital footprint, you live with it forever.