Thursday, November 20, 2008

Society Needs to Catch Up to Social Media, Part 2

This blog post won’t include links to the news stories because they’re a little NSFW (not safe for work) but if you search for “Caitlin Davis” or “Bono Facebook scandal” you should find them.

Personal Responsibility

Part 2 was supposed to be a serious blog post about the business uses of social media. But, like all true Web 2.0 content, the consumer is in control. Besides, I was having too much fun with these real life stories of “Social Media Gone Wild” not to run with this.

First, reader Dave T. brought it to my attention that I completely glossed over the idea of personal responsibility in Part 1, and he’s right. While the gist of that post was that we need to be forgiving of the silly things people have posted on MySpace and Facebook, I DO believe that the people posting those things need to be a little bit smarter. Dave suggested The Grandma Rule: “Don’t post it if your grandmother wouldn’t approve of it.”

Then I came across a story about Caitlin Davis, a New England Patriots cheerleader. She was fired after pictures from Facebook surfaced showing her holding a Sharpie and drawing on a passed out friend. There were some extremely inappropriate words and images drawn on him. In fairness, they may have been drawn by someone other than Davis, but the Patriots couldn’t keep her on as a representative or public face of the team/ organization.

What’s more surprising is that someone as media savvy as Bono can also get tangled up by embarrassing Facebook pictures. As a humanitarian and rock star, Bono has capitalized on technology and new media for decades. He should also be used to constantly living in the public eye. He should know better than to get caught on camera in a compromising situation.

When your life is on display to the whole world, you have to be careful how you present yourself. Ads for alcohol usually say “Drink responsibly.” Maybe Facebook and MySpace should warn users to “Post responsibly” on their upload pages. Either that or implement Vista-like security:
“Are you sure you want to post this?” “Yes.”
“Really?” “Yes.”
“Don’t say we didn’t warn you.” “I won’t.”
“OK. Upload complete.”

Then again, maybe we should just change the “Grandma Rule” to “Don’t DO anything your grandmother wouldn’t approve of.”

This is an ongoing series of blog posts about the effects of social media in corporate culture and society in general. Part 2 was supposed to explore the business applications of social media and discuss why IT departments need to be less restrictive with those tools. That will now be Part 3.

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