Reading Comprehension
Verbal Ability

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Common Information

Although websites such as Facebook and MySpace experienced exponential growth during the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, some users remain oblivious to the fact that the information they post online can come back to haunt them. First, employers can monitor employees who maintain a blog, photo diary, or website. Employers can look for controversial employee opinions, sensitive information disclosures, or wildly inappropriate conduct. For example, a North Carolina newspaper fired one of its features writers after she created a blog on which she anonymously wrote about the idiosyncrasies of her job and coworkers.

The second unintended use of information from social networking websites is employers who check on prospective employees. A June 11, 2006 New York Times article reported that many companies recruiting on college campuses use search engines and social networking websites such as MySpace, Xanga, and Facebook to conduct background checks. Although the use of MySpace or Google to scrutinize a student’s background is somewhat unsettling to many undergraduates, the Times noted that the utilization of Facebook is especially shocking to students who believe that Facebook is limited to current students and recent alumni.

Corporate recruiters and prospective employers are not the only people interested in college students’ lives. The third unintended use of social networking websites is college administrators who monitor the Internet—especially Facebook—for student misconduct. For example, a college in Boston’s Back Bay expelled its student Government Association President for joining a Facebook group highly critical of a campus police sergeant. In addition, fifteen students at a state university in North Carolina faced charges in court for underage drinking because of photos that appeared on Facebook.

Although more users of websites such as Facebook are becoming aware of the potential pitfalls of online identities, many regular users still fail to take three basic security precautions. First, only make your information available to a specific list of individuals whom you approve. Second, regularly search for potentially harmful information about yourself that may have been posted by mistake or by a disgruntled former associate. Third, never post blatantly offensive material under your name or on your page as, despite the best precautions, this material will likely make its way to the wider world. By taking these simple steps, members of the digital world can realize the many benefits of e-community without experiencing some of the damaging unintended consequences.


Common Information Question: 1/7

Based upon the passage, the author implies which of the following:


Information obtained unwillingly from the Internet is permissible in court


It is impossible to protect yourself from unintended uses of information online


Making information available only to people whom you trust compromises your online community


Even if you restrict who can view your data, the government may still access it


Done properly, posting prurient information about oneself poses no substantial risk

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Option(A) is correct

The portion of text that is of interest is: "In addition, fifteen students at a state university in North Carolina faced charges in court for underage drinking because of photos that appeared on Facebook."

A. The fact that authorities pressed charges "in court" "because of" photos that appeared online strongly implies that these photos were the evidence the police needed and could present in court.

B. In the last paragraph, the passage states that the opposite is true. 

C. The passage never even approaches discussing this topic.

D. The passage never discusses the government's ability to view restricted data. In the case of students in North Carolina, there is no mention that students tried to restrict access to the photos (and the context lends itself to assuming that the students did not take adequate measures to restrict their photos). 

E. The passage never speaks of taking precautions such that "no substantial risk" exists. The third piece of advice in the last paragraph is that users not post "blatantly offensive" information under any conditions and the last sentence of the passage speaks of arriving at the place where you do not experience "some [not all] of the damaging unintended consequences."

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