19 June 2005

If you don't know what you're doing online, be careful


Several news items today relate to online privacy issues, and as we all put more and more information on the net, it's a good idea to stay aware of who has what, and what they're doing with it.

We've all done things like this at one time or another, yes? Made a snide comment about the boss's grammar, but hit "reply to all" by mistake? Remember, when writing to a lot of people, to Bcc them rather than putting them as recipients. If nothing else it'll help keep their spam down.

Spokane's mayor, James West, has been incredibly stupid online, and really needs to resign. He failed to hide his identity well enough in a online gay chat room, which was simply stupid. But he is alleged to have then offered jobs to young men he was chatting with there. Unfortunately for him, one of those "young men" turned out to be the local newspaper. Oops. The lessons here are first, don't assume you can hide online, and second, don't assume anyone is who they say they are online.

And let's not miss this story — a secretary returned to work after the death of her mother; she accidentally spilled some ketchup on a co-worker's trousers; the co-worker asked the bereaved to immediately attend to his dry-cleaning bill. Said co-worker, I barely need mention, was a highly-paid lawyer. His e-mail to the secretary, and her reply, in mock apology, immediately made their way around the web. The moral of this story is to always remember that the recipient of your e-mail can share it with anyone, so be careful what you write to whom. Oh, and try to be a decent human being, 'kay?