Tuesday, January 30, 2007

blogs as surveillance tools

Since many bloggers mistakenly think that a digital journal is as intimate and private as a print diary, strategic details about a person's life may be seen in their blog. Details they may not have communicated otherwise.

Surveillance: covertly watching or recording a suspect to (hopefully) catch them doing something wrong.

Parents, who care enough about their children, can command the child to open their blog and let their mom and dad see what photos and text are in the blog.

On the U.S. television program "Wife Swap" last night, the parents of a 12 year old girl are exposed to the raunchy, sleazy, sexual content of the daughter's blog, and demand that she remove specific content.

When the parents took issue with her blog contents, she whined: "Everybody's doing it, so it's not fair for you to stop me. What am I supposed to say, that I'm an angel?"

You can do research on your competitors by reading the blogs of employees or the CEO blog. At the very least, you can learn how a competitor is talking to and influencing the market. You may also see some vulnerabilities and opportunities to provide a better product or serve a market segment (niche) that is underserved.

If you fire an employee, and that former employee has a blog, you can monitor that blog, for libel, defamation of character, lies, false accusations, over-compensating egotism, and other forms of wounded self-aggrandizement.

These details may prove useful in legal actions, for example, if the employee tries to sue the company for unlawful firing, if that archaic concept has any sense left in an At Will state. Unfortunately, corporations have all the rights and the individual has practically none.

For example: I was physically assaulted, commanded to conduct unauthorized activity on a cash register (enter retail sales volume under someone else's password whenever I had alreadymet "plan", i.e., the sales goals for the week), and sexually harrassed on the job -- but my attorney told me I had no grounds for a lawsuit. That's insane, it's not America or democracy, but that's what happened nevertheless.

My point is that it seems that many bloggers gush out all kinds of sordid, offensive, rash statements on their blogs, not thinking how it makes them look (immature, crazy, stupid), nor considering how it could be used against them.

Here's one way it works: the person has a web site. It might be an ecommerce site or a marketing site that displays expertise, talent, art, writing, music, or design work. On that web site there may also be a link called "blog", "journal", or "my diary". That's where the incriminating or embarrassing content can be found.

Why do bloggers post such self-condemning material?

I have warned bloggers in the past not to post hateful statements or threats against other individuals or companies. In the event of an arson, vandalism, murder, or suspicious death, what you wrote in you blog could come back to haunt you.

I won't address the issue of posting naked or sexually oriented photos on your blog, especially if you're a young girl, since this is so obviously stupid, it doesn't even require any cautions. Predators and stalkers are out there seeking such dummies.

I think we should all remember that what we publish in our public-access blogs (those that are not password protected) may be used against us as an individual or organization.

Think before you post. Pause before clicking that Publish Post button. Be sure that you really want the entire world to know what you reveal in your post. Some topics are best left out of the blogosphere and reserved for intimate conversations with family, friends, and confidantes.

This is not a new "rule" to limit the freedom of blogging, it's just a friendly reminder that "loose lips sink ships" and not everything needs to be blurted out on a blog. Use some discretion and protect yourself from those who might use your reckless abandon and ill considered revelations against you.


engtech said...

Hi Vaspers,

I wrote a series on the same subject: Digital Breadcrumbs.

I thought you might find it interesting.

carrie said...

i think you are right.