Thursday, March 05, 2009

Out there Forever

Just because you throw stuff out into the void, doesn't mean it's going to stay nested in your personal bubble. One of the hardest lessons I've learned from the past is that once you put it out on the internet, it's there forever. Even after you think you've deleted content, there are these little remnants of your data still floating out there.

Data isn't static online. It's constantly moving and shifting and particles of your data get left behind long after the actual data is gone. If you've never heard of the concept, next time you hit a broken link, hit the cache button next to the actual link. (web cache)

In addition to you leaving your digital eyelashes and skin particle all over the place, you should know that archives are constantly being created of websites. You may not know it but you might already be cloned. There's this whole process going on out there to archive the internet for historical purposes, research, and to preserve for the public. (web archive)

So you may think you have deleted your blog, picture, or website but is it really gone? "But I'm a nobody and no one would care about reading my stuff." It doesn't really matter what your site is about or how little it's visited, if the information is out there, it can be archived or cached.

While the internet is mostly text based communication currently, micro-blogging, blogging, and chatting are all considered public domain. Just because it says "Sally Smith's Personal Blog" doesn't mean the information you put out there deserves lock and key confidentiality. The same goes for instant messaging, micro-blogging services, and community chat tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Bindpoint. All of that information can be logged and re-posted without your permission.

I came across this article about a teenage worker who was fired for posting negative comments about her job on Facebook. "Teenage office worker sacked for moaning on Facebook about her 'totally boring' job" posted at Mail Online.

In the state of Texas, you can pretty much be fired for any reason at all other than discrimination. I actually have two office mates who follow me on Facebook which I'm not too happy about but knowing this has kept my comments completely generic. In fact, I'm very keen to not post anything during the day time hours incase they want to use my timepost stamp on a facebook comment to accuse me of surfing the net during work hours etc.

I do think it's a shame we can't achieve a level of transparency where people just accept that we all have varying degrees of @sshole in us. The problem is you have employers or potential employers out there who aren't going to care to factor in the complexity of social interactions on the internet. In their mind, if you're dumb enough to post a picture of yourself with a bong then you're not worth hiring. Or if you're dumb enough to joke about taking out the company servers through IM, you deserve to get fired.

I suppose if were were all allowed to be explicitly honest, everyone around us would be hurt. Just a good rule of thumb is don't save ANY IM chat histories at work, don't email anything personal from your work email, and don't use your RL name to post things regarding illegal activities or social deviances. And that's if you care about your job. Otherwise, link naked pics right away. :D


Unknown said...

Yep, I totally agree. I find more and more that my online persona is almost as much an invention of my character as my WoW avatar. Neither one describes who I am and ends up being only what I want certain people to see. Because I've had this attitude about the internet since I started, it hasn't been to hard separating my RL from my online personality. But it definitely limits the creativity and reach of my online personality.

Unknown said...

Erm. This is a very good point. One that I definitely needed to hear about. I... Er... Yeah. I'm going to go delete some stuff... THEN NUDIE PICs!

Unknown said...

Isn't there enough Nudes on the internets? :P

Unknown said...

Another piece of advice. Don't email or IM anyone while they are at work. Some employers record EVERYTHING, including email, IM conversations, and screenshots for replay later. That means they are not only eavesdropping on their employees, but everyone that employee communicates with. That even means if they check their PERSONAL email while they are at work, it could be recorded.

It's a horrible practice. Should be illegal, IMO. I understand that it's the employer's equipment, but the other side of the conversation doesn't know they are being recorded. - evil software

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