Social networking or public embarrassment?

UPDATE 17 June: In a ‘not so surprising’ turn of events, Weiner announced his resignation today. The embarrassment quotient of this video is reminiscent of the episode in Iraq when a shoe was thrown at George W. Bush. It’s high time that public figures understood that their lives  (and all of ours as well) are an open book on the Internet. I think we should always remember the ‘front page of the newspaper’ rule. If you don’t want this to become traditional/social media meat and haunt you for the rest of your lives, don’t do it!  Be it corporate organisations, government bodies or individuals…everyone needs to be aware and take into account the consequences of flirting with the online environment and have guidelines in place. Better safe than reallllllly sorry!

It surprises me that so many people are using social networking sites such as Facebook to live their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lives. But what surprises me even more is that they assume that their online lives are guarded by iron walls.

Within the last week there have been several examples where people have ignored/not known that their Twitter/Facebook accounts are not as private as they think they are. Wonder what US congressman Weiner was thinking (or perhaps not thinking at all) when he sent shots of his crotch to women he was sexting with via Twitter?! He had to pretend that his Twitter account had been hacked to save himself embarrassment a la Tiger Woods style. Unfortunately for him, he had to publically apologise when the truth came out soon after. Weiner, who is a leading candidate for New York Mayor, will now face ethics investigation. He has not only lost face in public but might even lose his chances of becoming mayor. The worst part of this fiasco was that Weiner was found to be having online contact with a teenage (17 year old) girl as well, even though he claims it wasn’t indecent.

No sympathy for Weiner, but how many such incidents do we need to understand that the Internet is not our living room?! What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but what happens online spreads everywhere (including the media) like wildfire within seconds. There are no Chatham House rules and no topic is ‘off limits’ or ‘off the record’. Even when you delete a rather embarrassing picture from a drunk Saturday night, it stays in Internet cache to humour (or anger) your prospective employer.

Online privacy settings need to be treated with the same respect as your home’s lock and key. Plus, you need to keep a hawk’s eye on any changes (major or minor) you notice on the social media platforms you use. Facebook has been notorious for changing privacy settings without alarming its users, Twitter accounts often get hacked and don’t even get me started on those online credit card scams.

Ensuring a safe use of such websites is as important as teaching children to not talk to strangers (especially online). Well…now that’s another blog post!

Related:

10 people who lost jobs over social media mistakes

Loose lips can sink ships on Twitter

5 Facebook privacy settings to check now

Facebook privacy: 10 settings everyone needs to know

Privacy rules – depending on the who and the where

In an older post from ourwiredworld: Sort out your Facebook privacy settings

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