Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Since when did Facebook

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become the playground of high schoolers?

It’s bad enough potential employers can stalk photos people tag of me in various states of inebriation, but now I must block entire swaths of my personal errata because students of mine can potentially see it? I’m not sure what to blame more: The voyeur/exhibitionist pathos of the internet or the speed in which I switched from Student Who Doesn’t Know Better to Member of Authority – a transition of exactly two months, consequently. Alas.

While I’m on the subject, Facebook recently clarified their EULA because somebody actually read that Epic and discovered what we all assume when we breeze through the EULA: Namely that they own every little bit of content we write forever and ever.

I’m not really a privacy advocate or an Intellectual Property activist or any such because I rather assume that the jumble of ethical/moral/legal situations that entwine such have already spiraled far out of control for any one person to predict the ramifications of practically anything (Even myself. Whoops.). The ‘net is still the Wild West even now – perhaps more so now, because of the popularity of Web2.0 sites and applications that allow casual users to post about themselves. The heart of the problem is that all these ethical guidelines and their conceived enforcement are two entirely separate things: Even YouTube has long since adopted a “better to ask forgiveness than permission” stance to, well, wholesale pirating.

The only cardinal rules in all the internet aren’t really rules at all, but mere observations:

  • Anything you put online – anything – is practically public domain. It’s effectively impossible for individuals to control information. As the tech of my school I’ve been put in awkward situations wherein I had to defuse the “sexting” and “omg look what they posted of me on myspace/photobucket/flickr” problems as they arose, and the answer was always the same: You can only control such content at the source – namely by not making said content. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control, and there’s nothing you can do to cease distribution. Lawsuits attack individuals – if you can find them and plead your case – but the internet is a collective, and an atomized one at that.
  • Anonymity is about as effective as The Club: Accept that it can be compromised; the issue is only in whether anybody wants to. Drawing attention to yourself – whether by partaking in internet drama or presenting a juicy target – increases chances at retaliation, and because your assailant is usually more or less anonymous to you, don’t expect any rules of engagement to be followed. This is to say, if someone wanted to get to you, all the content you’ve ever put up anywhere is, for all intents and purposes, fair play. Again, lawsuits are incredibly hard to attain, let alone win, when it comes to “internet bullying” or hacking in general. Hell, in my opinion, “internet bullying” is only a buzzword because big names in traditional media got burned in flamewars online and exercised their frustration back in their home domain.

I’m thoroughly of the opinion that debates as to rights and such online are essentially asking the wrong question: “How can I assert myself online without fear of reprisal or loss of control?” The correct question should be, “Can the information I post online hurt me in real life in any way?” You should play defensively from the start. Unless you’re like me and have a fatalist streak – as evidenced by how I failed to take this into account in the very rant that formulated this post.

Also, Firefox doesn’t like valign. Film at 11.

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One Response to “Since when did Facebook”


  1. Rott635
    on Feb 28th, 2009
    @ 2:20 pm

    To illustrate a point, I added a smoggy picture of NYC on the top right of my screen. That picture is controlled by Getty Images, a company that codifies and retains reproduction rights to stock photography. I didn’t contact them; nor anybody for that matter. I pulled the pic off New York Magazine’s website. I could be putting myself at risk, if anybody really cared – which is unlikely by the time I tire of that picture and choose another.

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