Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Dangers of Careless Social Media Use

(Cross-posted at the AlexanderG Whiz PR Blog.)

Social media is a magnificent thing…unless your ability to think your actions through is a tad lacking. Case in point:
The images of the devastation wrought by Japan’s worst-ever earthquake and tsunami stunned the world. But as the death toll climbed higher, one student at the University of California decided it was the perfect time to film a racist rant about Asian students – and post it on YouTube.
In the three-minute clip, a blond girl, named on the internet as Alexandra Wallace, complains about Asian students using their cellphones in the library – and speculates they’re “going through their whole families, just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing.”
via Alexandra Wallace: YouTube racist Asian rant on day of Japan tsunami | Mail Online.
We’ll spare you the hideous video–it’s all over the net if you want to see it.
Our advice is simple: Just like that heated email reply, nasty note or furious phone call–don’t post anything to the net until you’ve had time to ask yourself:
  1. Does this clearly demonstrate my intent?
  2. Is there any way this will harm others?
  3. Could this backfire and ruin my project, career or even my life?
Words, said, written or recorded in anger or during a period of thoughtlessness may dog you forever on the internet. Just ask Gilbert Gottfried, the now-former AFLAC Duck voice fired for stupid remarks about the tsunami on Twitter.

Special word to parents: please discuss this type of thing with your kids before they go to college (heck, talk to them about it when they’re old enough to use a computer!). Besides the usual warnings about Facebook behavior, now you will want to add that posting videos should be carefully considered. It only takes moments of flip thoughtlessness (or worse–unvarnished bigotry) captured by a camera and uploaded to the world for a person’s life to be forever tarnished.

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