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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Harvard University has rescinded admission offers for at least ten students who would have been part of the Class of 2021 for their “offensive” social media postings after they “traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat,” according to a report from The Harvard Crimson.

The Crimson reports that some admitted students of the Class of 2021 formed the Facebook group chat on social media in December 2016 to share memes about culture. Screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson show that “students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children.”

The description for the official Harvard Class of 2021 Facebook group contains the following statement: “As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.”

A copy of an email obtained by The Crimson that was sent by the Harvard Admissions Office to students who posted offensive memes on social media read in part: “The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics.”

Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers to at least ten participants – a decision University officials previously said was final – in April 2017 after discovering the existence and contents of the chat on social media.  The complete article from The Harvard Crimson is available at

An Internet meme is “an activity, concept, catchphrase, or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry or for comedic purposes, from person to person via the Internet. An Internet meme may also take the form of an image, hyperlink, video, website, or hashtag. It may be just a word or phrase, sometimes including an intentional misspelling.”

ESR and Fama Present Webinar on Social Media Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a global background check provider, hosted a webinar entitled “Top 5 Best Practices for Social Media Background Checks” presented by Ben Mones, CEO and Founder of leading social media screening provider Fama, an integrated ESR partner, on May 18, 2017.  To view the recorded webinar, click here.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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