October 20, 2010

What Westfield, Mark McInnes and you have in common

Westfield's electronic monitoring system makes it far easier to find a free parking spot and will no doubt allow for better traffic management. It also makes it easier to track shoplifters and other criminals. Another nail in the coffin of personal privacy.

Welcome to the public age. We are all celebrities in our own way with very little privacy left over from the dark ages before the rise of the internet and social media.

It is a painful lesson which Mark McInnes recently learned. If you think you can get away with half the stuff you could a few years ago, you are dreaming.

Police are even using Facebook to serve summons when they can't reach the individual in person.

In the US, a recent story illustrates the power of social media and serves as a lesson for anyone behaving badly. You will get caught.

Ivanna left her phone in a New York cab one day. When her phone company transferred the data onto her new phone, she was able to trace her old phone to a teenager named Sasha in Queens who had used it to take photos of herself and her friends.

When Sasha refused to return the phone, Ivanna's friend, Evan, set up a web page with Sasha's photo and a description of what happened. He sent the link to his friends, who passed it on and on. Someone found a photo of Sasha's boyfriend through MySpace, another made a video of her house. Both were posted on the site.

The news filter Digg picked up the story, which was eventually followed by millions of people sending up to 10 emails a minute to Evan, and posting stories to the site which crashed under the volume of traffic. The New York Police, who initially filed the incident under "lost, bowed to public pressure and reclassified it as "stolen". Sasha was arrested and the phone recovered.

Bet she wasn't expecting that response.

That old adage of dance like no one is watching - act like they are.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Lisa,
    Thankyou for bringing that to my attention. I've often thought that social media will go this way. It's so interesting how much more the average person has access to today that can make a real difference in things like law enforcement. When we contrast this with the apparent paradox of having thousands of cyber friends but less time to socialise with real people, there are fascinating new social trends afoot. We will only see the full implications of this in the future, when hindsight shows us what was really going on. Interesting times indeed!