Social networking bad for your work health?

The explosion of social networking sites such as facebook, Bebo and MySpace has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Known as Web 2.0 many journalists have tried to put their finger on just why people enjoy this new way of getting together which many would argue actually stymies traditional interaction, rather than encourage it.

And as this article by Marc Cieslak at bbc.co.uk suggests, there has even been a rise in cyber snobbery with sites for only those who meet their strict criteria such as beautifulpeople.net

But it isn’t so much the reasons behind their popularity that need examined, it’s their effect.

One greying former news editor that I know was incandescent with rage when his paper was scooped on a collect by its main rivals who had bothered to investigate whether the subject of their story had their own blogsite on the web when his own team had failed.

His response was to send out an edict to the troops that such sites had to be interrogated on every story, but it demonstrates just how easy it is for such people to become out of touch in this ever changing world if they don’t move with the times.

And it shows what a vital news resource in itself individual sites have become, as people perhaps underestimate the affect on their own privacies.

Stories themselves are now being born out of the internet.

Only last week, Wendy Alexander the Scottish Labour Party leader found herself subject of negative stories following the appointment of a new spin doctor, Gavin Yates.

He was appointed her third communications chief in a matter of months, but found wanting after a quick check of his own blog discovered he’d been critical of her, and other members, in the past while talking up her fiercest rival.

Yates had attempted to delete his blog, no doubt aware of the embarrassing headlines that would follow, but was clumsy in his attempts failing to realise the offending articles would be cached by Google and available to anyone with half an understanding of the web.

Cue much gnashing of teeth in the political chattering classes as the likes of the Sunday Herald detailed his faux pas, although Campbell Gunn at the Sunday Post appears to be the man credited with breaking the story through his journalistic enterprise.

Yet there is another, altogether more sinister specter raised by the use and collation of such online writing that some will argue, naively in my opinion, should be viewed by only its intended audience.

Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian’s technology correspondent warns of companies using social networking sites and blogs to dig up information about potential job applicants – and whether or not such practice and use could be deemed illegal.

Certainly a minefield to give much pause for thought.

But surely the responsibility must lie with the author to think about the consequences of their actions before they post, rather than the end user who will simply access the content?



Categories: Blogs, Media philosophy & trends

1 reply

  1. But surely the responsibility must lie with the author to think about the consequences of their actions before they post,
    Yes, but play fair. What a person posts when they are 15 may be a different opinion to what they have at 21 and 30 so it becomes a question of asking if people should say nothing because of what they may do in the future…?

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