GLASGOW: Online privacy is like a unicorn, said Scott Harvey, in a presentation to the entire student body of Barren County High School and the Trojan Academy in the BCHS gym.
"It doesn't exist," he said. "Quit acting like you can have private conversations on the Internet, because you can't.
"It would be awesome if you could, but when you put it on the world wide web, the world can access it."
Harvey, of Nicholasville, has been a police officer for more than 18 years, and has taught the DARE program to students for about 16 of those. He spoke on Thursday about the dangers of social media.
"I'm actually a big fan of social media," Harvey said. "I like my technology a lot. But I also believe that technology is not our problem. Our problem today is our lack of understanding of that technology."
While Harvey uses social media platforms such as FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter, he said that he stays away from Snapchat.
"After 18 years of being a cop, there's one thing I have very little patience for," he said. "I don't like being lied to.
"And Snapchat has lied to every one of its users."
Harvey said while Snapchat has convinced its users that a snap "disappears like a ghost," it does not.
"Here's the deal," he said. "It's not gone. What you don't understand about the magic about social media is when you send a Snapchat, a (direct message), a text message, whatever, it doesn't go from your device to theirs.
"It goes from your device to a server where a copy is made and a copy is sent to theirs. So even if you both delete, there's still a copy on a server that neither one of you has access to."
Harvey said he could take someone's device, phone, tablet or "whatever it is you use to communicate," and he can hook it up to a computer at their state crime lab.
"Within five minutes, I can have almost every snap you have ever sent or received," he said. "Including the deleted ones, because they are still on your device. You just can't see them."
Harvey told the students that they are a very unique generation.
"You guys are growing up on a stage, under a spotlight," he said. "Nobody really knows what that will do to you, because no one's ever grown up under the spotlight of social media until you.
"We will learn 20 years from now from your therapists about the things that we should have done differently as your parents and teachers. Every generation learns how they screwed up their kids. Ours will be about social media, because I know how bright this spotlight is."
Harvey told the students that they need to be aware of this constant spotlight.
"If you do all of your damage control before you hit post," he said. "You can control your spotlight to an extent."
He recommended to the students that all of their social media be professional "because your future universities and your future employers, they will check your social media accounts before they hire you or accept you into their university."
"We now live in a world, where you have to be the same person everywhere you are, or social media will destroy you," Harvey said. "But let's be honest, that's a healthier way to live anyways.
"Never before, in the history of the world, have you been able to hurt more people than you can with your technology, but never before in the history of the world have you been able to help more people than you can with your technology.
"Technology is not the problem. It's how it's used, and whether or not you're willing to be someone that I already know you are."
In his introduction to Harvey's presentation, BCHS Principal Brad Johnson told the student body about the school's No 1 priority.
"We have a lot of things that are important to us," he said. "A lot of things that we do for you, a lot of things we try to help you do and help you with.
"We have one goal that's more important than anything else we do for you. One goal. And that is to keep you safe.
"Keep you safe here, keep you safe in your other walks of life.
"Our No. 1 priority is to keep you safe."
Harvey said that once something is posted on social media it is out there.
"Once it's out there," he said. "You can't get it back."
It's out there forever. — The Glasgow Daily Times/Tribune News Service