The popularity of smart phones in the market, sales of mobile devices up 5.6 percent in the third quarter of 2011, is a contributing factor to how some individuals get in trouble with status updates or photo and video uploads. Sometimes these unfortunate circumstances of online harassment or cyber bullying are performed with the intent to harm, humiliate or humor their followers without considering the consequences.
One of the many things I preach to the students in my Social Media course is to "think before you post." While technology makes accessing the Internet more convenient and instantaneous, it also makes us react before we reflect.
Prior to smart phones (or even the Internet in general), whenever there was a conflict or incident between individuals, two things occurred: 1) our audience was smaller and 2) we had time to reflect about what happened before reacting. Now, with large number of Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers, YouTube viewers, and so forth, we have a global audience.
In addition, with the smart phones giving us the Internet at our fingertips, we post our thoughts and feelings for the world to see and sometimes not thinking before we post. When we didn't have smart phones, we would have time to cool down or think about things before confronting or going public with your thoughts/opinions. Now, we don't take time to reflect on the incident that happened or what could occur if we post that photo(s) or video(s). The reason for posting could be over an ordeal where you are mad at someone and want to speak your mind or seek revenge, or it could be you thinking something is humorous but not thinking how others may perceive it. Whatever the case, we need to go to Twitter to tweet about it or go to Facebook to post a status update at that moment.
Sure, you could reflect later and decide that maybe you should delete that post, photo, or video, but it is not gone. Has it been stored in a database somewhere? Has someone already downloaded or taken a screen capture of it? Has someone already posted it to their website or blog? You don't know. One of the benefits of the social web is to share. Sometimes, we don't need to share everything, but we want too. However, everyone's level of self-disclosure and sharing habits are different, and part of the reasons individuals get in trouble is due to their misunderstanding of privacy online, not filtering who they accept as friends/followers, and simply not thinking.
The goal of the Cybercrimes panel was to answer audience's questions about these types of incidents and for us as panelists to bring awareness to these issues. With that in mind, I hope to spread awareness to you, and you use these social media platforms to continue to spread awareness. If you get anything from this post, I hope the next time you go to post something online, you reflect before you react.