By Katie McBride

Imagine you are sitting at your computer checking your e-mail when all of a sudden a photograph pops up of your high school’s assistant cheerleading coach and one of your fellow cheerleaders topless. You are shocked, confused and a little embarrassed for both of them. You wonder what exactly the circumstances were that caused the photo to be taken.Well, you would certainly not be the only one wondering that.

In the small town of Goshen, Ohio, this scenario actually took place. The assistant football coach at Goshen High School, 19-year-old Andrew Emerson, hosted a party at his home in Blanchester, Ohio.

The assistant cheerleading coach, 19-year-old Victoria Schattauer, allegedly went into the bathroom of the house and took a topless photo with a 15-year-old freshman cheerleader, according to enquirer.com.

Both have since been fired from their positions, and the cheerleader has faced disciplinary actions, according to msnbc.com.

This photograph has sparked intense media coverage and investigations by the school and the Blanchester police. Mass news organizations such as MSNBC have picked up the photo and paired it with a news story in which they say, “Both young ladies are topless and they have some explaining to do.”

The photograph brings to light several questions about what people are choosing to put on the Internet and how these choices can affect their lives.

In a world where technology is booming and you can find just about anyone on the Internet, people need to be more careful about what they choose to put online and to whom they choose to make it available.

The case of the cheerleaders is, of course, just one of many cases in which people post private information or photos without thinking about the consequences of making these things public.

But the truth is, almost nothing online is private. Somehow, everything that is put online on an assumedly private page usually ends up being visible to people who were not the intended viewers.

Students need to be careful to whom they make information available and what they post online. This is especially true on networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Unless students change their privacy settings, anyone can view their MySpace page and everyone listed as a member of their network can view their Facebook page.

While photos may not be as threatening to some, students who list their home addresses or cell phone numbers could be putting themselves at risk of harassment by anyone who could use this information in a negative way.

Video-sharing sites such as YouTube have added a whole new layer to the danger of posting things online. Now, instead of just being able to post private information or photos, users can post videos of almost anything they want and make it available to anyone who accesses the popular Web site.

Numerous Eastern students have YouTube Web sites posted on their Facebook profiles so that anyone can access their videos without having to search for them.

Derek Adams, a junior computer science interactive multimedia major, posted his first YouTube video over a year ago. His first post was a Halo 1 montage, but now he likes to post videos of himself playing his favorite songs.

“You should check out my Oasis ‘Sad Song’ cover. It’s been watched over 1,300 times,” Adams said. “It’s a great way to get noticed.”

He predominantly uses YouTube, but has also stared working with fancovers.com. Adams describes the site as being a lot like YouTube, but only for fans covering their favorite songs. His cover is currently on the site’s front page. Adams especially appreciates the feedback he receives from viewers on YouTube.

“People comment on my videos pretty regularly. Most are just complimentary, but several offer advice to improve my act,” Adams said. “It’s always exciting to see people from across the world enjoy something that I, a small town boy from Kentucky, put on the Internet.”

Because Adams mostly posts covers of music, he doesn’t have to worry much about posting private facts online. He does, however, have standards to what he will and will not post.

“It all comes down to how comfortable I feel about my performance whether or not I’ll post it,” Adams said.

Other students post videos for different reasons. Rhianna Brooke David, a senior English teaching major, has created her own show called “Wake up with R!” on YouTube. She reports on pop culture happenings, news with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and gives shout outs to her friends on her site, www.youtube.com/rhiannabrooke.

David began her show when she got an iMac computer and realized that it had a Web cam.

“I’ve always wanted my own morning talk show. So I was just like, ‘OK, I’ll broadcast my own show.’ I mean, YouTube’s motto is ‘broadcast yourself,” David said. “I’ve actually gotten a lot of feedback so far.”

David just recently started posting videos, but she said she knows where to draw the line on what she posts.

“I would never post any of my personal information or say things like ‘I’m going to go here at such and such time’ because that is just asking for someone to stalk you,” David said. “I think I’m pretty safe with what I post. Everything I talk about is in the tabloids or a newspaper anyway.”

Other videos are available simply by searching for “EKU” on YouTube. This search produced many results such as a highlight video of Sigma Nu’s spring 2007 semester, a video of people evacuating Commonwealth Hall during a fire drill and a video of the Colonel mascot doing the “Soulja Boy” dance in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot during tailgating.

While none of these videos contain any blatantly private images, they are an example of just how easy it is to find videos of people you know on YouTube.

So in the future, please be careful what you post on the Internet. You never know who could see it or what they could do with it. You could be another topless pop-up.