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Dreaming of a new online normal

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In the seven years that I have been playing the blogging game I have seen some big changes, well the fact that broadband has become the ubiquitous norm rather than the exception has been a biggie. Now we bloggers can put up a far more attractive page with graphics and many photos without concern that it will be too slow to load or despised by readers because it uses too much of their download allowance. I have seen the rise of twitter and the migration to that platform of many of the snark artists that used to haunt the bloggosphere. This has also seen the decline in a vast number of blogs which existed only to accommodate the eternally mean and vicious, well good riddance to bad rubbish, such loses are not mourned in this part of cyber space. Now we are finally beginning to see an end to the online free for all that is just so beloved of the trolls and scum bags. The law is beginning to hold online miscreants responsible for what they say and do which is a trend that I am pretty certain will continue and which will help to create a new normal where one will have to be as decent online as we are expected to be in the real world.

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It may well take a while for the lawmakers to fully address these sorts of issues, heck it may even take the suicide of a few more victims of cyber-bullies (although I hope not) but there is no doubt in my mind that the tide has turned against a totally unregulated online environment and we can only hope that the right balance can be struck between adequate disincentives for despicable behaviour and the maintenance of our rights to free expression online.
Cheers Comrades

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From mindfulness and care comes civility , and civility is the foundation of a well functioning society

Mouse Jim

Of course the other side  to the online anonymity issue relates to the use of social media in and about the workplace, and its the possible employment  repercussions from online interactions that advocates for anonymity usually cite as a reason for their position on the matter. However I think that they are quite mistaken on a couple of levels.

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Firstly  when you are on the boss’s dollar you really have no right to carry out personal business or commentary on  life instead of devoting yourself to the tasks for which you are being paid. It has never ceased to amaze me just how many people who comment on blogs (including my own ) or tweet madly away during work hours and this trend has become even more common with the advent of internet capable smart phones which circumvent any restrictions on the use of workplace  computers.

Secondly there is the matter of how what you may post on social media will reflect upon your employer and the incidents described in the image on the right  (from the AGE) are good examples of the possible negative consequences for being an online  fool or smartarse.

Rather than whining about employers taking note of stupid or malicious online behaviour perhaps those who advocate for the impunity of anonymity on the net should instead realise that the other side of the equation is that if people were as well mannered and respectful online as they are obliged to be in “real” life then the chances of them having any negative consequences for an internet presence will be very small indeed.

I have been blogging for exactly seven years this very day* and during that time I have seen a great deal of change in the online environment   the electric country has become populated with far more ordinary folk rather than being mostly populated by the early adopters of the personal computer and as the demographic has changed so to has the expectations of society about this online  part of life. No longer do is  anarchy and a mostly pseudonymous interaction the norm. Most of us have face-book, twitter or some other sort of social media presence and its up to us all to use our online presence with mindfulness and care for the consequences of publication. This is a good thing as I see it because from mindfulness and care comes civility , and civility is the foundation of a well functioning society, which is after all what we want isn’t it?

Cheers Comrades

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*Happy Blog day to Moi 🙂  🙂

The squawking of twitter

Ah the joys of social media!

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To be entirely frank I am delighted by this development because it means that those people who have believed that twitter is a place where the malicious things that they have blasted out into the ether would never  have repercussions for them  are  now reaping what they have sown.  and the man who has been so cruelly defamed with the most vile accusations that can be imagined is showing the arrogant  that there is no such thing as a free pass on the electronic super highway.

More power to Lord McAlpine’s arm Comrades

Social Media, Online Privacy and Free Speech Anonymity: a guest post by Fiona Causer

Freedom of speech is one of the most treasured rights of citizens of democratic nations around the world. Yet debate about freedom of speech continues in the twenty-first century as technology provides new methods of communication.  For with these new communication channels come new challenges to professionals in the position of protecting these free speech rights.  This makes the demand for savvier legal practitioners even greater than before.  In order to have a chance to defend future victims of violated online trust, many paralegal online education programs are tasked with providing technologically-aware graduates ready to face these potential violations to online privacy and free speech.

More than ten million Australians use Facebook and millions of others use other social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube to share information with friends and families and, sometimes, to express political opinions. While no one suggests that the explosion of social media use should be curtailed, many people are concerned over the forum social networking sites provide for anonymous comments, which can often contain vitriol that the posters would not necessarily express if they were face-to-face with someone with an opposing view.

Many Facebook users assume their posts are viewable only by their friends, but anything that has been posted online can be found and viewed by computer-savvy hackers, sometimes with dramatic consequences. Numerous people have been fired after making derogatory comments on Facebook or Twitter about their employers.

The consequences of some social media posts are far greater than an individual’s firing when the comments are of a political nature. For example, a private site on Facebook used by more than 1000 current and former members of the Australian military was discovered to have numerous posts that were offensive to women, Muslims and immigrants. Hundreds of the posts included expletives and hateful language. The discovery of the site, which has now been shut down, created a scandal in the Australian army and will likely result in the firing of the posters.
In another instance, Tony Mitchell, an Australian teaching English in Bahrain, was fired from his position and deported for writing about the political unrest in the country on his Facebook account. According to an article on NextWeb.com, Mitchell found out that his Facebook page was being monitored by people he had added as friends to his page who then forwarded the information to his university’s human resources department.

Situations such as Mitchell’s may encourage some social media users to create fake identities to protect themselves yet be open about their opinions. However, the ability to hide an identity on social media could lead to abuses if users use their anonymity to write inflammatory posts. If anonymous or false identities become too prevalent, it may be possible that restrictions could be put in place on social media networks to prevent this type of behaviour.

In order to take full advantage of the benefits of social media without compromising a person’s employment or safety, users of social media are advised to be careful about what they post. Embarrassing photos, rude comments about other people, explosive political rants and complaints about work can all cause personal problems such as loss of employment or the loss of important relationships. A good rule of thumb to avoid problems with social media is to assume that every item posted may be read by an employer and a close relative. Anything that would offend either of those people may be better left off a social media site. While freedom of speech is a right that every Australian treasures, with freedom comes responsibility.

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