Technology + Social Media + Internet = No Privacy?

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iStock_000017188325MediumIn our modern technological age of social media and the Internet, information and content sharing can go viral with one click. It can be your bad hair picture or maybe a picture you didn’t want anyone to see and in the wrong hands of an ex scorned lover, suddenly your naughty picture has gone viral.

AnthonyweinerPerhaps your picture or text message was sent by your own hands. Maybe you made a rookie mistake, fumbling the direct message option on twitter and turning what was meant to be private into a public message. Just ask Anthony Weiner and how his “private” – or is it “privates?” – direct message got accidentally sent public via Twitter. It cost him his career and nearly cost him his marriage. But the former Congressman isn’t the only one that has been in the hot seat due to social media and or technology.

A Business Insider article, 17 People Who Were Fired For Using Facebook, says it all. The list is composed of individuals not just in the U.S., but all over the world. Discriminating pictures posted on Facebook that either lead to suspension or termination. These individuals ranged in age, ethnicity and profession. One was a waitress who posted remarks about her customers leaving no tip. Another was a New England Patriots cheerleader who was photographed with a sharpie in hand next to a passed out partier covered in swastikas. Then there was the Swiss woman who called in sick only to be caught on Facebook. Several teachers were caught making rude or racist comments while another posted pictures of her partying with booze.

I personally have seen people blast their partners and spouses on Facebook, calling them all sorts of names and taking their argument public. Others go on and on about how horrible their life is or they go the extreme and are OK with blasting questionable pictures where they seem to be having a little too much fun. Some use Facebook to demonstrate how beautiful they are, posting modeling pictures. However, in my personal opinion if you are attempting to brand yourself then you ought to have a Facebook page where fans can like your page.

If you really think you are that good-looking that we need to see your bikini body or six-pack abs, then maybe you need a fan page to brand yourself. Fan pages allow you to potentially grow into a cyber celebrity by promoting yourself for relatively free, if you don’t count the potential embarrassment of what others might say about you. However, it’s wrong in my opinion to use your personal Facebook account to display your portfolio to family and friends or even others. If you have modeling pictures or you are an aspiring actor then publish a Fan page or a website. If you want to tell people about your new website, post up the link to a professionally designed and maintained page. These are just suggestions from a marketing and social media perspective. But in most cases, I find that people don’t do these things.

As I wrote in a previous article, people use social media incorrectly because people want to show off. Social sites have made it so that more and more, we’ve become a narcissistic, “selfie” generation. We’ve all been guilty of it, including me. At the same time, why else are we on Facebook other than to brag? Some of us try to post useful updates, but for the most part people like to cyberly strut their stuff. So, it’s no wonder we’ve got people making stupid social media mistakes or making dumb comments where what you say and do will be held against you.

A decade ago, other than professionals, you didn’t have as many people making videos or recordings. Now, nearly every cell phone has a built-in recording device. You say something horrible in the privacy of your own home and someone can be recording you from their cell phone without you even knowing it. The next thing you know, you’re a social pariah.

In the Donald Sterling case; he was moronic or confused enough to allegedly allow his mistress, V. Stiviano, to record all of his conversations. Stiviano recently told reporters that she now hopes to one day be “president of the United States.” Her attorney has said that Stiviano did not turn the recording over to TMZ, so she’s either lying or her phone is bugged. Regardless of how the recording leaked, now everyone knows who Stiviano is and everyone has heard for themselves Sterling’s incriminating racist comments that have now banned him from the NBA for life.

Wrong or not, Sterling was in the privacy of his home when he made his racist remarks, and we live in a country where freedom of speech is something we hold dear. But, a private thought or belief is no longer a private matter once the public gets a hold it, especially if you are a public figure. Common sense would say that Sterling should have known better than to allow his lover to record all of his conversations. Maybe he’s senile, but that’s even more reason why he shouldn’t own a professional franchise, employ people or make decisions that affect the thousands of people, mostly low-income people of color, who rent one of his apartments. Duh.

The moral of the story? Be very careful what you blast on social media sites and know that every cell phone practically can record video and audio. So, be discreet with what you say and who you say it to. You’re entitled to your opinion, regardless if other people agree with you or not. But some beliefs and comments should be kept to ourselves.

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