On-line reputations are hard-won and easily lost.
We are all prey to hackers who can range from the nuisance (mafia family on twitter) to the violently disruptive (where accounts are taken over as happened to me last year). On-line reputations suffer but the intent of hackers is rarely malicious in that way. I’m not talking about hacking.
What the title refers to is a kind of gossip at a drinks reception last week which went something like this
“I was really surprised at that blog/post xyz made the other day”
“Why, what did it say”
“You know , the one with the f and c words in it and I’m not talking Foreign and Colonial”
“Golly, I didn’t know he wrote that kind of stuff, that’s really damaging , I wonder what his company thinks of that?”
“I know, there’s x, he works with him, let’s ask him what he thinks”.
Before you know it, this blog or post has been reported back and the hapless blogger is called to account for his behaviour.
This happened to me last week, my accuser -a well-known professional, her evidence – lost in cyberspace. I wrote to her to ask where she had seen the noxious words and she replied
I’m not tecky enough to know whether it was a re-tweet or something along that lines that ended up getting linked to your name. What I noticed was reforwarded on one of the pension news services (or possibly Linkedin) around about 2-3 weeks ago. I am sure it is the equivlent of virtual fish and chip paper by now (sic)
It’s a clever response, putting her at distance from geekiness, demonstrating that I am so caught up in tweeting and retweeting that I have no idea what is going on and ensuring that I cannot press her for proof of what she claims I wrote.
The fact that there’s not a scrap of evidence regarding this blog is irrelevent to the argument. Those who think ill of blogging are only too happy to accept that the evidence exists in cyberspace and will like a Russian satellite, crash back to earth to do untold damage at that point.
Rather like the negative capability of the terrorist threat, the cyber-threat of the blogger can be invoked at any point and the fact that there is no evidence makes it all the more potent. A sarin capsule or a toxic blog- both undetectable -both potent and both coming to a city near you.
So it is that the internet, that started out as a means of sharing, becomes to some people, a threat that needs controlling.
We do not need the internet to be policed. I am a father and a Director of a firm of actuaries. I do not want to read the f and c words on other’s blogs nor do I want them on mine.
If I find something offensive on a facebook page or a blog or a tweet, I will send a direct message to the author, or at the most public, put a comment on the offending item with a hope that a change is made. If the only change is made is that my comment is deleted then I will not be following that person in future.
Occasionally I have to moderate comments on the Pension Play Pen and even on my blog and I do so reluctantly. Nonetheless, there are rules which though not written down apply to on-line behaviour.
In another incident last week, a friend of mine was rude about another friend of mine on-line. Neither knew each other but I knew the original post would offend and I suggested he change that post. He did, I introduced the two to each other and hopefully a good relationship will follow.
The internet does not need police because it is a self-regulating community and the regulation works like that.
If people chose public forums to have a go at on-line behaviours they had better have some evidence to back up their complaint.
Otherwise we are all guilty , have no defence and like the victims of a Stalinist purge , can be consigned to the gulags by any old prankster.
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- How to Develop a Reputation for your Blog – A Quick Guide (famousbloggers.net)
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- If you don’t exist on the Internet do you exist at all? (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
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