Beyond the looking glass

After a weekend without any connection with the wired world, I returned to the “biggest story on BBC Radio 1” -specifically the police and their tough approach to trolling on Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, the news item (repeated often) had soundbites from politicians, pop stars and public alike – offering reasons for and against. There was also comment offered from international visitors stopped in the street by intrepid reporters – with a shocked “ooh” from a Japanese girl after being told of the fate of the 17 year old who posted comments to Tom Daley’s twitter feed.

This provoked much debate in the car journey – with the ultimate conclusion being that whilst draconian, the people posting abusive comments are basically publishing and therefore as liable as they would be had they put up a billboard poster or published a TV or newspaper ad.

Regardless of your point of view, this actually highlights a challenge faced everyday in the exciting world of Information Assurance – namely education. Almost every meeting I attend, and everywhere I see discussions online, the same issue is highlighted – i.e. the general inability (or unwillingness) of users to appreciate the ramifications of their actions (or inaction)

For quite some time, I have been saying how I believe that users of technology seem to disassociate their gadget or piece of technology from the rest of the wired world and instead labour under the misapprehension that the device (and therefore any interaction) is personal. In my experience – both direct and anecdotal – there are strong signs of this, whereby users seem to be unaware that their device is fact a window into the outside world.

Of course, the reality is that users will actually see this window as a mirror – it is their world that is displayed back to them. Therefore as part of the education process, perhaps we need to emphasise that the whole world can see whatever they do in front of this mirror; pick nose, clean teeth, laugh, cry, – in fact anything. And that it is all recorded forever – or at least until Internet storage runs out and things are deleted……..

After all, whilst there is arguably nothing more cringeworthy than seeing your junior self having been recorded singing & dancing to Fame/Grease/SpiceGirls/etc. from years ago, I would proffer that there is nothing more sobering than a rejected job application, a transaction declined due to lack of funds, or a knock on the door from the police for posting abusive messages.

Maybe we need a few more prosecutions to wake up these mirror gazers and protect them from themselves…..

About Paul O'Sullivan

Speak plainly, work ethically, challenge stupidity

Posted on August 21, 2012, in General musings. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Spot on.
    One of the biggest issues with a persons online presence and interactions is that sense of separation from the real world. People, and this seems particularly true of the younger generation, become emboldened by the perceived anonymity of an online pseudonym. Something that wouldn’t dare to be said to someone’s face can easily be typed into twitter or Facebook etc. There is a definite lack of manners or respect online, and this is, as you say, down to education. People need to understand that verbally abusing someone in the virtual world is just as bad (if not worse due to its permanence) as doing the same in the physical world.
    Technology has brought about a brave new world, odd then that it’s full of cowards hiding behind an online persona.

    (posted by my cowardly online self)

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