The recent racial rant by an official of the Bedfordview licensing department reported in the media made me think. Read the full article.
During my presentations on Cyber Security and Privacy, I repeatedly emphasize that the world wide web does not forget. While there remains a perception that for example, social media posts may be deleted and they will be gone forever, is simply a very fake sense of assurance. The information resides on a server somewhere and while there are strategies to remove data from the web, they are not fool proof for one. Common technology sense does tell us, if we replace anything offending posted, with something else it should disappear. Yes maybe, it is yet to be proven this is a fait accompli. Even worse, an offending post is left to linger longer, it is indexed by other platforms and it spreads with very real purpose with very little human intervention.
The other issue that has caught many ranters out, is prior to deletion, the post was intentionally captured and secured by someone else. Years ago before social media et al, (I still believe this is still applicable today) one of the golden rules of email messages – do not send an email when angry or emotional in anyway as it may more often than not, be regretted later. The same should be said about posts to the web as well.
The resulting reality, technology has changed the way we look after our reputation, by controlling data we intentionally put out there. Before, if we ranted and raved, or threw a tantrum or other compromising situations. The witnesses to the event did not have cell phones with technology which could record it and immediately (or shortly thereafter) post it on social media or some other forum.
But back to the article and our racial ranter, the offender did not even post anything to the web, he simply performed it . The witnesses helped it along and pow, it ended up on the web where it spread like wild fire. With the result his employers hauled him across the coals with all the instantaneous evidence they needed and fired him – game over.
Not quite, and here is the crux, according to the mentioned article, the offender has exasperated his own position even more, with complete arrogance in not following an opportunity provided to him to explain his side of the story prior to dismissal (even though it would not have lessened his guilt). He could have at least provided something in mitigation such as a bad hair day and shown some remorse for his actions.
He also faces criminal charges of crimen injuria now, the evidence for the case bar a few additional factors, has been served up to the prosecution team and his arrogance should it continue to prevail into trial, will serve him well as aggravation of sentence.
To say it again, with little doing of his own this whole situation has ended up out there for all to see, even this blog post contributes to that. His future employment prospects look pretty bleak, he does not even have to complete the consent agreement on an employment application in future, a basic google search will put paid to that in any event. His arrogance (which he misinterpreted as bravado) will haunt him forever as a reflection of his character.
However, should he suddenly come to his senses and do some soul searching to the realization he has done his reputation some severe damage. He could still attempt to mitigate the situation. He will not be able to have the media articles such as the one mentioned removed, or whatever has been said about him on social media removed, it will remain even though people may forget. The replacing of data with more positive inducing data is not really an option in this case as he was not responsible for posting it. If he is not on social media he better start making plans quickly to do so, and start apologizing now and forever for his little racial tantrum. He will need to take his punishment, both his dismissal and if criminally convicted, as a guide to set him on a course that is more socially acceptable. Also, he should contemplate putting out a press release on as many platforms as possible to publicly express his regret and remorse, to a least negate some of the adverse impact.
This is the power of modern social influence, in this case it was well used to expose inappropriate behaviour, but also brings the understanding for example, of the concerns of the Russians interference in elections in various countries through exactly the same medium. We are responsible for our own actions, more now than before, as we have to continuously be aware of the social influence and how its consequences ends up on the web. Children especially need to start understanding this today, as the digital script will continue to be written.
Keep it safe!