Tag Archives: ethics

Action/Consequence: The Concept Lost On Millennials.

From career choice to personal interactions, social media is a pretty big part of my life. This is in part the ‘look at everything I have done’ generation I grow up in, mixed with a University that was ahead of the game and hammered home not only the power social media possesses and the opportunities it presents, but also the responsibility we have to control ourselves on it. 

For the most part, the constant evolution of the online nature has yielded a sense of awareness to the issue of ethics. That said, it doesn’t take half a scroll down one’s newsfeed to find something that causes an eye roll or head shake followed by a question of where humanity is heading.

For years I’ve studied the actions that prompt someone to post what they do. A sense of entitlement, narcissism, ignorance or just a different perspective on the definition of ‘interesting’. The biggest thing to note is that at some point or another we’ve all been guilty of it.  Like falling down or the feeling of getting too close to a fire, we’ve all posted something that we immediately second guessed. Certainly not on the same magnitude as others, but it’s a feeling we all understand. It’s like I’ve always told my clients, colleagues and superiors in the office hierarchy, the ONLY thing I truly know about social media is that there is no right way to do it, but there are millions of wrong ones.

In college, some friends and I started a social campaign as part of a project to promote online ethics to the audience that needed to hear it: Everyone. We started a Facebook page called The Social Media Résumé Project (then we dropped the ‘the’…it’s cleaner) and took our presentation to local high schools and junior high schools in an effort to minimize the amount of things posted online that could affect future opportunities. We showed statistics, gave personal testimonials and offered alternatives.

Yet, as it always has been, the most effective form of education is through experience and the impact those consequences have.

SMRP has lived on (often times barely) to exist with that purpose. Mainly because those stories are out there, even close to home. Recently my friend Amanda, owner of 417 Pet Sitting sent me this testimonial of her experience managing those that manage social media: 

Most of us, at some point, put thought into what we post on Facebook and other social media sites. As a 30-something, single, female, business owner who is active in the community, I have accepted the fact that “big brother” is watching my every move.  Even when I have a “night off”, what I am posting reflects on me and ultimately my business.

 I am a fairly laid back boss, I like to get to know my sitters which then helps me invest the trust in them that is required in our profession.  That being said, I have always been friends with them on Facebook.  We email and text daily about clients and jobs.  We share totally open lines of communication, which brings me to my point: 
 
Recently I was having trouble with one of my sitters.  I had received a couple minor complaints from customers which were addressed and resolved. But, in keeping an eye on her, I started noticing more and more posts and inappropriate pictures. To make matters worse, they were being posted during times in which that young lady was supposed to be caring for clients’ pets.   As much as it angered me that she was blatantly lying to me and the clients, it saddened me that she was making such poor choices in posts and photos online.  Someday, this young lady is going to be a business professional. She has since taken down her Facebook page.  At least now she isn’t sharing her lack of responsibility with everyone, including her present and future employers.
 
Mistakes happen. the goal is not to abolish them, all in all it is the very thing that makes us human. 
 
Make them, just don’t tweet them.
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Facebook, The Monster We’ve Created

There’s recently been a lot of talk surrounding Anonymous and their proposed attack on Facebook.

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Didn’t even catch that reference until someone in the office pointed it out to me. Thank you Hugo Weaving for continuing to inspire anarchy present day.

So all of Facebook will be lost, should Anonymous succeed; At least for a few hours, maybe more. It’s hard to imagine Mr. Zuckerburg hasn’t surrounded himself with some employees capable of handling a serious hack(s). But the question is this: what can this possibly accomplish?

Anonymous states in their video that our ‘medium of communication we all so dearly love will be destroyed’, citing the reason that Facebook sells our information to governments around the world. It’s no secret that governments and Facebook have a connection. There’s rumors left and right that Facebook has distributed our information to the highest bidder, including national governments. However, it’s another connection that has our governments pulling for Anonymous (for once).

Facebook has recently become a hub for communication between revolutionaries to inspire change, albeit good and, as Steve Olenski points out in his article “The Dark Side of Social Media”, bad. The London Riots of 2011 are without question something that is a product of tension and rapid escalation. Several frustrated with the economy of no hope for improvement in the near future and a source for communication in real-time is a formula for riot, and that’s exactly what the world witnessed unfold on the London streets. Social media is also a major player in the Egypt Revolution of 2011, so much so that there are children in Cairo now named Facebook. That’s power.

So much so that the government is scared.

And they should be, we all should be. Social media has opened the doors to possibilities we have only begun to tap into, and if where we’ve been is any indication as to where we’re going, something has to give.

For the first time EVER, we have the ability to communicate around the world in real-time, inspire millions with a :30 video and establish a following with a single page or post. However, with this power comes tremendous responsibility (I apologize for being the millionth person to beat that phrase over your head, but it fits), this is something we are far from harnessing.

My home state of Missouri just passed a law banning students and former students from friending their educators on any social media platform. Although I disagree with this particular extreme, I can certainly understand it’s reasoning: there are simply some things that shouldn’t be shared and we haven’t yet figured that out. From a platform to launch potential sexual misconduct to a student seeing a photo album of his French teacher’s time at the downtown pub crawl last weekend, social media doesn’t have a censor. Millions everyday pour everything into their profiles, from those drunk photos that will likely endanger there careers down the road to credit card information, phone numbers and real-time location. What’s worse is we don’t think anything of it. Governments loved that. Everything has a price and it’s possible Facebook and our elected officials reached that price, that they very well could be using all that information to find out everything possible about us and keeping tabs on us.

It’s now like we were super protective of it though.

Log-in to Facebook: “You want my name/address & phone number?…ok”
“Now you want all my photos with all my friends?…cool, I can tag them!”
“There’s apps that reveal my exact location and games I can play with my credit card? I DO love zombie games and FarmVille…”

We did this to ourselves, so when you speak in anger over how much the government shouldn’t be all up in your business, just remember when you entered all that information there’s another person on the other side of that computer collecting that information, and he’s just as imperfectly human as you are.

However as I’ve stated before, social media has caused the government many a headache as well. From the Riots that HAVE happened due to social communication between revolutionaries and anarchists to the millions governments around the world have caught wind of and shut down before they got started, social media poses a threat to us all. So much so that governments are pressing hard for possessing control over them. This would most likely in turn lead to censorship, and thus defeating the purpose and ultimately social media altogether; such a shame for something that has the power to do so much good around the world.

I should say that I’m not labeling social media as a troublemaker, and that nothing good has come out of it. I love social media for all that it can do, and it’s impacted my world in a tremendous way. I’m not saying we all are guilty of giving ourselves away on social platforms, there are many out there that practice social ethics and serve as models to proper social power. But in this day and age, the actions of so few can affect so many, as witnessed by these riots. Social media has to evolve in order to sustain and we have to evolve with it. As long as we continue to abuse this power we’ve created, these issues will always exist. This is exactly what Anonymous is hoping to accomplish by taking out our most popular social hub.

What if they succeed? Facebook is shut down. It will be reopened, and the slate is clean. Do we move on, or do we rebuild? I vote for both: rebuild our social presence to entertain and influence our friends and followers (in a good way) and move on from the ‘Dark Side of Social Media’. Hack or not, this is an opportunity for change.

Remember, remember the 5th of November…AGAIN, Hugo Weaving…