Caught In The Web

Caught ON The Web

Your Business on Display for All the World To See

 

We’ve all seen or heard the stories; they amuse, scare, shock and intrigue us; and they are becoming more common every day.

From horrifying incidents of brutal student bullying captured secretively through the eye of a camera phone, to personal thoughts and photos posted on social Web sites and blogs — more and more, people’s everyday actions are being caught on the Web.

Rarely do the subjects of such surreptitious surveillance know that their private moments can, in moments, spread throughout cyberspace like wildfire — satisfying the voyeuristic appetites of a culture consistently seeking the shock factor. These incriminating or embarrassing videos and photos are instantly out there for all of the world to see.

So, do you ever stop to think about the fact that it could be you caught on the Web? When you step out into the public, how much privacy do you really have? Are you unwittingingly posting photos and information on the Internet that could come back to haunt you?

Know Your Rights

In a society filled with every kind of technological innovation imaginable, you can be filmed by hidden cameras or mobile camera phones at any time, anywhere. This increased use of the Internet by video voyeurs to display images captured surreptitiously robs victims of their privacy and dignity, and makes it more important than ever to take precautions and have increased awareness.

That’s why it’s important to know your rights. In 2004, Congress passed the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act prohibiting photographing or videotaping an unclothed person without his or her consent in any place where there can be a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a gym locker room, public restroom, tanning bed, or dressing room. Punishment includes fines of up to $100,000 or up to a year in prison, or both. For more information on your privacy rights, visit www.privacyrights.org. This site contains information that everyone should know.

Smile For The Phone

For those who enjoy capturing images spontaneously, the mobile camera phone seems heaven-sent. You don’t ever have to worry about carrying your camera again, because all you have to do is flip your phone open and get the shot in a flash.

On the flip side, camera cell phones can also mean a blatant invasion of privacy when they are used inappropriately or even illegally. The proliferation of miniature cellular phones that can record pictures silently has facilitated illicit photography in public places such as grocery stores, sidewalks and restaurants.

Candid shots can be e-mailed to friends or sent to sites that have automated “moblogging” (mobile blogging) such as Buzznet.com, Fotolog.net, WebShots, and Textamerica.com, and then viewed worldwide in seconds. That means private moments can instantly become fodder for public consumption.

Images and even statements can also be taken out of context, and not used or interpreted in the manner or by the type of audience intended. Within minutes, a scandalous photo can be linked to a plethora of Web pages, weaving a very tangled web.

A personal profile, provocative photos on a dating Web site, candid shots of underage drinkers at a party, fuzzy images of celebrities doing scandalous things — all of these can cause problems, oftentimes doing damage before a person even knows what happened. A few bad decisions out on the town with friends can turn into a public spectacle by morning.

When Blogging, Beware

Blogging is a popular contemporary Internet phenomenon. It’s the chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links on a frequent basis. A blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person’s life and what is happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid Web diary.

There are blogs written by people as they fight cancer, blogs posted by educators around the world on every topic imaginable, and blogs focusing on celebrity gossip. There truly are as many types of blogs as there are people. TypePad, Blogger.Com, SquareSpace, and Blogstream are just a few of the many sites dedicated to blogging. Type in the word “blog” on Google, and it will pull up more than 74,600,000 possible hits.

Just as with most everything else, there is good blogging and bad blogging — and it is never a good idea to reveal too much information to such a vast audience. Whether on blogs, Web sites, Friendster or MSN, some people reveal their names, e-mail addresses, mobile numbers, age, hobbies, name of school or workplace, weekly schedule, habits, photographs, or residence. This is personal and private data that can very easily get into the wrong hands.

The Internet can give many people a false sense of security and privacy, but users should never assume that just family and friends will view a certain personal blog, Web page, or posted image. Information or photos placed on the Web are rarely private.

Blogging can also hurt employees and companies. Cases have started appearing in the news where bloggers get in trouble for posting blogs they write on their own time about their jobs and co-workers. On the Web, this is where the line between personal and professional gets blurred. Blogging about work, or the people you work with, can get you in as much trouble as blogging from work.

The Internet is a great resource and serves many positive functions, but it’s still important to guard your privacy and make wise decisions when it comes to your Web activities.

 

Home ] Up ] Reader Recipes ] Down Home ] It's Your Business ] Food For Thought ] [ Caught In The Web ] Healthy Take ] Editorial ]