Within our first month of marriage, my husband, Sam, and I moved cross country to the state with the best snow on earth, Utah. Sam was jobless and I was a full-time student. Out of desperation, Sam signed on as a sales rep with a water company. They were a startup and needed all the help they could get. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’
There is a blog post by Janet Meiners Thaeler called Google Suggest & Your Reputation that took me back to Journalism 101 in college. As budding reporters, we learned the difference between public figures (e.g. politicians) and private citizens. We learned that the press was almost always protected against writing something about public figures in the paper (even if it turned out to be false), but we had to be careful about what we said—and why—about private citizens (even if it was true). Writing a damaging story about a private person for no apparent reason was cause for a lawsuit. The underlying reason for all that was privacy, and the unspoken need to protect the reputation of the average person. If the mayor is having an affair, it is fair game to report it. But don’t you dare write about the Mr. Nobody down the street having an affair, unless he does something newsworthy and the affair is applicable to the story.
Thaeler writes that a colleague of hers was denied an interview after the interviewee did a Google search for her colleague. Right or wrong, accurate or correct, information picked up from the Internet is influencing our decisions. And we don’t always have control over it.
In the pre-Internet age, someone could choose to remain a private person. The reason why politicians weren’t protected as well against libel and slander is because they chose to put themselves into the limelight, where privacy doesn’t exist. Now it appears that privacy doesn’t exist for the average Joe, either. Thaeler quotes the inventor of the cell phone saying, “Sorry, privacy is a thing of the past.” I certainly hope not.
As far as reputation goes, I know I can’t control what others say about me online, just like I can’t control what people say about me offline. Unfortunately, online commentary stays there forever. All I can do is control what I do and say online, which is why I recently deactivated my Facebook account. I felt like I no longer had control.
That takes me back to college. With college students today caring less about the information they put online than previous generations, I wonder what professors in Journalism 101, or Media Ethics are teaching today, and whether it is falling on deaf ears.