Harvard Is Using Facebook To Spy On High School Students

Image Credit: Harvard Licensed By Creative Commons

I recently attended a Harvard information session in the Washington, DC area where the Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid William Fitzsimmons spoke to prospective students and their families. During the question and answer session, I asked Mr. Fitzsimmons about the issues surrounding the revocation of acceptance of at least 10 applicants for the 2017 entering class based upon their digital life and he seemed surprised and paused before answering.

Mr. Fitzsimmons’ responded that Harvard has and will continue to revoke acceptances based on an applicants’ digital life. This wasn’t surprising since I have successfully advised applicants for years who have been accused of inappropriate digital behavior by Harvard and other universities and graduate school programs.

Colleges and universities are secretly social media monitoring applicants and are using unethical methods to obtain digital dirt on applicants. For example, Harvard is encouraging applicants to ask their admissions office via Facebook questions under the guise of enabling them to obtain access to applicants’ Facebook accounts.

Encouraging applicants to interact with the admissions office via Facebook is done for applicant surveillance. If Harvard wasn’t interested in spying on high school students they could easily set up a Reddit Ask Me Anything like Bill Gates

College applicants need to understand that Facebook was created by former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if Facebook is selling to Harvard applicants’ personal data. If you read Facebook’s Terms and Privacy Policy you will realize you give Facebook the ability to sell your private information to third parties which include colleges. 

Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) were caught by the ACLU in 2016 selling access to their data to a surveillance company that was selling private personal account data to third parties such as the law enforcement and schools. Facebook only stopped selling user data to the surveillance companies the ACLU outed and not to all entities who want the information (e.g. data brokers, colleges, insurance companies, etc.)  

In general, I don’t recommend interacting with Harvard or any other admissions office via Facebook because it will then investigate your account for inappropriate content. If make a post (e.g. a political statement or if you indicate you have attended an event that may indicate your ethnic, socioeconomic status, religion, personal opinions, etc.) that one of Harvard’s admissions staff  does not like, you may be denied admission, or have an offer and/or a scholarship revoked.  

There is no benefit during the college application process to have a robust and easily searchable digital life. The goal is to minimize your digital footprint. Consultants who advise students to have easily searchable LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. accounts are intentionally misleading students and families for financial gain.  

If you want to learn how to protect your digital life from the admissions staff at Harvard and other colleges, universities, and graduate schools I can help you. I can proudly claim that my efforts have protected the digital lives of more applicants to college and graduate schools than anyone else in the country. If anyone wants to challenge this claim go ahead! You can learn more about my student applicant protection services at www.digitalarmour.io.