Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday notes - LE's Through a glass darkly

I read Legal Eagle's post Through a glass, darkly with interest, but also a degree of depression.

The post deals with the legal problems that can arise from posts to social networking sites and is worth reading at a number of levels.

From my own viewpoint, and I am a reasonably sophisticated on-line user because I have been involved for such a long time, the explosion in my visible on-line presence that flowed especially from blogging came as a surprise.

When I first started using the internet all those years ago as a professional and business tool, I wanted to attract search engine coverage to ensure a visible internet presence. It never occurred to me that I might be too successful to the point that management of my internet presence would become a problem.

Given that I have a problem, you can see why I might be concerned especially for the young who chat freely in this new world.

The big problem with sites like Facebook is that they give at least a semi-permanent presence to what is and should remain the ephemeral.

I don't judge the people I know on Facebook by individual remarks or even actions like joining groups because I usually know them well enough to set remarks in a broader context. Taken out of context, remarks and actions can become a problem for the individuals involved.

LE notes that a newly formed Sydney company called SR7 specialises in digging up dirt on staff by spying on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube posts for employers. LE also reports on two cases where police officers' on-line presence caused cases to fail.

There are issues here that I do not fully understand. I am not sure, for example, how Facebook material can be apparently so easily accessed. The point is that it can, and may be used in evidence against you.


Legal Eagle said...

Re Facebook: I think the problem for the various parties was that their profiles were not set to "private". If you have a public profile, then anyone can see it.

Also, if someone tags you in a photo or you make a comment on their site, others who are not your friend may be able to see it.

My advice: if you want to say that your boss is an idiot, say it in the privacy of your home e-mail, not in a comment on someone's site.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's interesting, LE. I agree strongly with your last point. However, even home emails can be a problem. They cannot be burnt as easily as letters!

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