Online nothing goes away, and anything can come to light if enough time and pressure are applied.
George Zimmerman is about to find that out because the Miami Herald found his MySpace page. I’m kind of surprised this didn’t come to light sooner. In a bit of dark humor, he was just awarded the “In the Spotlight” badge because people are flocking to pore over his updates for clues.
We can’t undo the advances into the era of Radical Transparency, we can only adjust to it. That isn’t a bad thing.
Just as social media can have a negative impact on someone’s life, it can also have a positive impact. It depends on how much of a person is positive or negative.
Social media is only a tool – it has no inherent qualities. It can only reflect those who use it. The same social media platforms that are providing fodder to back up the allegation that the shooting of Trayvon Martin was a hate crime motivated by mistrust of a race are ALSO raising funds for Zimmerman’s defense fund and spreading the message of his fervent right-leaning defenders. Con artists on both sides of the case have faked content to support their side – and virtually all have been caught and debunked.
Right now the big headlines are the racist missives against Hispanics that the MySpace profile contains, as well as some allusions to criminal behavior.
That won’t be the only headline, and a fuller picture of Zimmerman is already being illustrated in the news media as we all endeavor to learn more about him and his motivations. The Herald noted that he has a racially-diverse group of friends (as depicted by his photos). Likely there are other positive features of Zimmerman which will come to light.
I tend to think anything that helps make us more aware that the world is a complex, gray place with few (if any) absolutes is a benefit to us all.
Knowing where y0u stand is the first step to take when you’re developing a public relations strategy for an organization (or yourself). Ideally, an audit is a detailed and expensive process involving a lot of primary research (with formal community sentiment surveys adhering to good research methodology standards) – but it doesn’t have to be. In nearly all cases, any insight you can get is better than no insight.
There are simple things you can do at little or no cost to understand the state of your brand so you know the following (the good ‘ol SWOT acronym): Read more…
Right now, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale is in the middle of a contract negotiation dispute which has resulted in a strike by the tenured faculty. As one would expect in a situation such as this, the faculty has urged its supporters to be vocal on the union’s behalf and some students took to the SIU Carbondale Facebook Fan Page to urge a resolution to the contract dispute.
Unfortunately, the SIU Carbondale administrators of the page began deleting those messages. One report noted that they began by deleting only the messages of support for the faculty, but later began deleting all messages related to the dispute – and even went so far as to ban some users. Read more…
As the horrible events of July 7, 2011 unfolded in Grand Rapids and a troubled Roderick Dantzler murdered seven people including two children, people around the world skipped the news media altogether and watched/listened live (via live streams of the police scanner – at one point 14,000 people were logged in). It was a tragic example of the amazing technological power the average person wields, which [to paraphrase FDR/Spiderman's Uncle Ben] “comes with great responsibility.”
What I observed made me think about the role social media will play in the future of society when events like these occur. Here’s how my night went: Read more…
In my past post, I talked about the societal ramifications of the “Filter Bubble” as described by Eli Pariser. Essentially Google and other web platforms (including social networking sites like Facebook) have been quietly manipulating what each of us sees so that everything is personally-tailored to us. I tend to think that this pushes us further toward an unsettling future where we live in our own insular cocoons, distanced more starkly from those who aren’t like us.
The Filter Bubble also has serious ramifications for measurement and search engine optimization (SEO), practices of dire concern to anyone in public relations, marketing, or advertising. If Google looks different to every single person searching it, what does that mean for PageRank? Read more…
Two Great Examples of the Age of Radical Transparency: iPhone 5 Leak and Gary Dell’Abate Smear Email
I try to warn people I consult with about public relations and online reputation management to behave and do business as though their conduct could end up on Wikileaks … because it could.
Two great examples highlight how porous the walls of any organization now are as a result of the Internet and social media:
Apple iPhone 5 / iPad 2 Design Leaks
There are so many ways information can find its way through the walls that organizations work hard to keep impenetrable. This photo of the iPhone 5 faceplate went public after it was published on the website iDealsChina after it was apparently leaked from a manufacturer of the component.
Similar revelations were disclosed by another Chinese source for Apple’s proposed iPad 2.
Elsewhere many other details (including specifications) have gone public, and who can forget Apple having police break the door of Gizmodo employee Jason Chen’s residence to retrieve a prototype of the 4G iPhone after it was inadvertently left at a bar by an employee.
Smear Campaign Against Gary Dell’Abate of the Howard Stern Show
Listeners to the Howard Stern Show are likely aware that Producer Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate is currently embroiled in a conflict over his appointment to a local advisory role for his local Greenwich, Connecticut Board of Parks and Recreation Board. His employer has become a point of criticism for one of the members of the Appointment Committee, who has resorted to increasingly bizarre tactics (like carrying around a bag of feces ostensibly left on her porch by an apparent Stern Show fan).
Local newspaper the Stamford Advocate received an email from someone calling himself “Michael Obrien” who lobbed a number of libelous accusations at Dell’Abate, including that he hired prostitutes for the show. In spite of being unable to verify Obrien’s identity, the newspaper printed the accusations. Now they’ve retracted the original version of the story and republished a new version sanitized of the defamatory content. The problem for the Stamford Advocate is that Google’s cache has preserved the original version, so you can view it in its libel-filled entirety here.
Even if the article hadn’t been cached by Google, anyone subscribed to the Stamford Advocate’s RSS feed would have an intact copy of the original article saved in their feed reader.
It gets worse for the Greenwich Town Government: according to Dell’Abate, a tech-savvy listener was able to track the email account (which was created 20 minutes before the email was sent) back to its original IP address which originated from the Greenwich Town Government offices.
That means an employee of the Township is behind the smear, and the “Howard 100 News” team is likely going to root out more details that won’t play well for the local government entity. It should be easy to track the email back to the node on the Township’s network and identify the employee workstation from which it was sent (information that can be obtained via a Freedom of Information Act by the Stern Show’s news team).
[Updated] A colleague recently asked me for assistance in how parents can deal with children using Facebook (a scarier prospect for some than the idea of one’s children driving). Not having kids myself, it hadn’t occurred to me that children as young as eight are feeling pressure from their classmates to get on social networks. Seriously. Elementary-aged children on social media.
Here are a few ideas I had beyond requiring them to provide you with their password so you can log in periodically and make sure everything is on the up-and-up.
Monitor the Internet: Companies, governments and other organizations are constantly watching the Internet for mentions of their names – so why not parents? Using tools like these below – you can set up a stream of alerts to be delivered to you either by email, or as an RSS feed you can manage in a feed aggregator like Google Reader so you’ll know if your kids’ names are mentioned anywhere (and hopefully intervene to prevent problems):
- Google Alerts (alerts.google.com)
- Tweetalarm (tweetalarm.com)
- Board Tracker (boardtracker.com)
- YouTube Search (youtube.com)
Check the Privacy Settings: Facebook’s privacy settings are so obtuse, Wired magazine featured the term “Privacy Zuckering” in its “Jargon Watch” recently. It refers to the fact that the settings are deliberately hard to understand and operate because Facebook wants you to publish more than you intend to (more data about more people online = more traffic to Facebook = more revenue). Here’s a tool that lets you scan your Facebook privacy settings to see what is exposed:
- Reclaim Privacy (reclaimprivacy.org) – Keeping up with Facebook is so hard, they recently posted a message that the tool may not be compatible with the latest version.
Monitor Their Devices: This Facebook Setting will let you know if either of the kids logs in to Facebook from a computer or device you’re not familiar with (very handy if you rely on a computer at home to monitor your child’s Internet usage):
- Get Notified When Your Facebook Account Gets Hacked by ROHIT on MAY 11, 2010 | troublefixers.com
Understand the Settings: Here are some articles that help map out the confusing array of Facebook Privacy Settings:
- 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know | Nick O’Neill on February 2nd, 2009 | Allfacebook.com
- [Graphic] Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options | New York Times | Published: May 12, 2010
[Update] Understand the Culture: In last month’s issue of Wired Magazine, Clive Thompson wrote an excellent article (“Clive Thompson on Secret Messages in the Digital Age“) that I recommend parents read about how children are adapting to parental oversight of their social media presences. He describes how young people now communicate via multi-layered messages. A song lyric might seem innocuous to parents not familiar with the context – but the childs’ friends can get the message. This means parents need to be fluent in the cultural works their children consume.
The national media has grabbed hold of the story of high school English teacher Natalie Munroe, the teacher whose blog (which contained a number of disparaging references to students, co-workers and administrators) was discovered and brought to the attention of school officials. A couple of days ago, as I was doing research on social media case law, I ran across Munroe’s rebuttal to the current accusations against her.
Munroe appears to have gone on the offensive in other venues than just the blog and is doing media appearances. The Huffington Post has a story up here with video from ABC News.
The problem for Munroe is that legal precedent does not support her activity. Since Pickering v. the Board of Education, (in cases like Garcetti v. Ceballos and Richerson v. Beckon) courts haven’t been very friendly to the idea that the First Amendment applies to public employees.
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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