Sunday, June 18, 2006

Delusions of privacy

"All good things must come to an end," notes an editorial in today's New York Times, "including the chance to post lascivious photographs and diary entries on the Internet without repercussions."

Reflecting on recent reports that many companies have gone from "Googling" their job applicants to checking in social media sites like Facebook and MySpace, the NYT editorialist wrote:

A recent survey found that more than a third of large American companies read their employees' outbound e-mail, and just under a third fired someone as a result. We are only just beginning to wake up to the wider ramifications of the Internet on the personal and the confidential. In the meantime, don't leave a digital trail. That photograph from your friend's party could be more than just embarrassing. It might cost you your dream job.

This particularly struck home to me after running across a post on Weblogg-ed yesterday on "Adults and MySpace" while browsing through some of the blogs linked to the BlogHer site. In that post, Will Richardson talked about how hypocritical it is for us adults to get our knickers in twist over what young people are posting on MySpace when we know they're being exposed daily to ads, videos, films and TV shows that are full of bad behavior, sex and violence.

To illustrate his point, Richardson linked to an explicit advertisement and to a MySpace page that curled my hair (so maybe I'm easily shocked), and wrote:

...repeat those images about 500,000 times until (kids) get old enough to put up a MySpace site and watch what happens.

Some youthful indiscretions can be overlooked (hey, our president admits to "youthful indiscretions" well into his 30s), but it's harder when they can be Googled indefinitely on the web.

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