EDITORIAL: A fish out of context?

York Dispatch

A picture says a thousand words, which is great — unless your story has a thousand more, in which case the photo tells only half the story.

That's the situation local angler Juan Arevalo says he's in.

The York City man was fishing for catfish last month along the Susquehanna River in York Haven when he snagged "the biggest bass I've ever caught."

Arevalo says he knew it was illegal to catch bass at that place and time, so he tossed the 21- to 22-inch fish back into the river.

First, though, a friend snapped a picture of a smiling Arevalo holding the wide-mouthed bass — an image he later posted to Facebook.

Now here is where everyone with even a passing familiarity with social media is uttering a collective "Uh oh."

Over sharing.

Too much information — or information out of context — can live on long after someone hits "post."

We often think of young people as the worst offenders. They grew up with social media, after all, and seem more comfortable sharing all aspects of their day-to-day lives.

Much of it's innocent, but some content — images of underage drinking, for instance, or off-color commentary — can haunt them.

Some young people might not even know the damage they've done until they begin job hunting and realize prospective employers actually care about that kind of stuff. What better way to find out about a job candidate than to peruse the candid posts he or she so helpfully shared with the world.

At 38, Arevalo probably should have realized the possible repercussions of his fish photo when he posted it to Facebook ... or when he made it his profile picture.

A few days after the posting, he received a certified letter telling him he's been cited for illegally catching a fish. He's convinced the photo is to blame.

Eric Levis, spokesman for the state Fish & Boat Commission, wouldn't comment about Arevalo's specific citation, but he did confirm the agency is seeing more investigations prompted by photos on social media.

Arevalo plans to fight the citation, which carries a $120 fine, because he says he complied with the law. Yes, he hooked a bass out of season, but he also tossed it back, as required.

If only Arevalo had a photo of that as well, maybe his fish tale would hold more water with the Fish & Boat Commission.

Short of that, he might want to chalk this up as an expensive lesson in social media basics — rule No. 1 being "Think before you share."