No good deed goes unpunished. Have you ever done everything in your power to help someone whose head was rectally inserted so far they could smell their own appetite? Indeed, there have been many in my life. As luck would have it, there has been one recently who has tested the extent of my goodwill to its breaking point. Let’s talk about social media privacy, cyber bullying and cyber gossip.
I have long held the opinion social media is dumbing down the population. Let’s look at just a few examples, shall we?
For all of you who do not understand how Facebook, Twitter and Google+, the Big Three of social media, work, I am going to give a basic primer to explain.
Not on MY Wall.
When I post something to my wall/stream, a copy of it enters the stream which may or may not show up on your home page/stream based on an algorithm designed by the platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). In no way, shape or form have I posted something to your personal wall/profile. The only way you are seeing it is to be on my friends/followers/circles lists and the platform deciding it is relevant or of interest to you.
Often, since my Facebook page is my playground where no holds are barred, I post things which I would never dream of posting to a fully public forum…like M3 or the comments on anyone else’s blog. Why?
- It is my personal signature space where my humor can be as dark, sarcastic or outright mean as I like.
- I have my privacy settings* to air only to my friends, and not to their friends.
- Those who know me have, over time, learned this about me.
- Those who choose not to view such things are welcome to unsubscribe or unfriend as they see fit.
On the other hand, those, who have only been on Facebook and Twitter for three or four years (and to a lesser extent Google+, based on its open date) and have never once bothered to learn how the platform works*, are certain that every single innuendo-filled post I own is being broadcast to all of their friends, followers and anyone who would find them in a public search.
They make we want to set fire to the internet. It is not on your wall/stream/profile.
Everyone can see it!
When you get a direct message (Twitter), a chat or inbox message (Facebook) or a locked post (Google+), there are only a limited number of people who can see it, namely: you and the person who sent it to you (and anyone else to whom they sent it).* These messages are as private as your very own, personal email address. In fact, most of them are hosted on separate domains from the general wall/page/stream. Private really does mean private.* No, not everyone can see it.
Hiding in Plain Sight
If you are hiding from a stalker, ex-_________, boss or anyone else for that matter, social media is not somewhere you should be airing things like:
- The alcohol or drug consumption of last (night, weekend, 14 years)
- The illicit liaison between you and your (co-worker, boss, ex)
- The social faux pas you made (again)
- The fact you skipped work today to go to a (movie, game, date)
- The misdemeanor (or felony) you committed
- Your sexual escapades
- Your passing an assignment to someone else despite your getting credit for it
- The fact you ignored advice you sought on said social media, which resulted in a preventable gaffe on your part
Yes, everyone can see this you allow* to see or share it.
My suggestion: A therapist, minister, best friend, telephone sex operator or someone who can listen to you, so you do not have to write these things in public.
Messages are forever, sometimes.
Despite brouhaha over companies like Klout mining social media, there are ways to delete your sordid affairs from social media. Most of them require time. You may delete things directly from your profile. In most cases, they will be privately held by the platform for a prescribed period of time before it is deleted permanently.* The deleted material from public posts is most often held to aid in investigations into cyber crime and is held up to five years.
Other messages are fairly straightforward in their deletion. Personal messages are the simplest. Once you delete them, they are gone forever.*
Public posts, well, are truthfully advertised.* They are public, minable, usable by all who do mine and will one day become cyber space dust only if they have not been mined. And even if they are mined, unless someone is looking for dirt on you, they will sit in a digital storehouse unnoticed by all.
If this had been an actual emergency,
…chances are good you would no longer be breathing.
I have seen an increasing number of posts which have been airing things shared entirely in private. I have heard about extramarital affairs, domestic abuse, professional disagreements, malfeasance and all manner of other things which were in no way my business nor were they fit for public consumption. The saddest part of it all, someone was misrepresented in all of them. Some of the information was completely false.
Internet gossip and cyber bullying are the bane of social media. They undermine all of the things which are good about social media and platforms meant to make the planet a much smaller place. Just like the neighbor hanging over the garden fence, internet gossipers are bullies.
They sensationalize the real life events of others to make themselves seem like a reliable hub of information. Alternatively, but not any better, they use things they have been told to garner sympathy or support when no harm has been done them. Lastly, they are attempting to cause someone else physical, emotion, reputation or monetary harm. Sometimes, these things go hand-in-hand.
More and more cases of suicides and attempted suicides are rolling out everyday from the harm caused by people airing in public the things which were shared in private. This violation of trust and privacy* is now a problem once relegated to the small social circles of towns and schools. The Internet has opened that social circle to include people who never meet in person.
*Knowledge is power.
Did you notice all of the asterisks along this post? They all lead right here:
Before you may use any social media platform, including blogging platforms, you must click on a check box which states you have read and understand the terms of service. When you violate someone’s privacy, do not be surprised when they come knocking to your Internet door wanting your service disconnected for your blatant breech of the terms of service.
Every platform takes privacy very seriously. Advertisers pull money from sites who allow people to violate privacy policies.
So, the next time you take a private message sent to you on social media to a public forum, realize you are a cyber bully, a privacy violator and putting yourself in jeopardy of losing your social media account.
Do you know anyone who has been a victim of cyber bullying? Do you know a cyber gossip? Have you been the target of a cyber bully? What do you think the punishment for cyber bullying on social media should be?