Someone just learned that social media is public, even when it is set to private. The case of Anton Casey has shown that nothing is hidden online.
1. “Private” on social media is still public
In response to this event, sites like mothership.sg have tried to be helpful, offeringadvice like “The moral of the story? Always set your Facebook account to private.” Great advice! Online privacy! Of course, that’s utterly impractical. Facebook is not for privacy. If you want privacy, you write your thoughts down in a hard copy diary, in a personal language you invented, with a complex cipher. Then you burn the diary. Then you eat the ashes.
Facebook is for showing off your rants and getting affirmation in return. Facebook is the gamification of popularity. When you want to be publicly private about your latest bitchfit, you go to Facebook and set it to “friends”. Safe, we think.
2. Social media has been gamified – ‘friends’ are not friends
Guess what, Mr Casey thought that too, and was wrong. A good look at the screenshot of his offensive posts shows the sharing set to “friends” – perfectly typical for anyone’s “private” posts.
Someone in his ‘friends’ list took offense, and that’s not surprising if you’re a popular guy with lots of money and a wide social circle, as Mr Casey probably is. Anton Casey called it a “security breach” in his apology on the sgtalk forum. Ha! Security breach! In the way that “I left my wallet and phone on the table and went to the toilet” is a security breach.
3. The Internet will find you
Privacy is a myth. In the Internet age, determined people with vast resources (like the police, or the CIA) can track you down and find out all sorts of crap about you online. In fact, bored people with nothing better to do with their time and no resources other than a broadband connection can do just as well these days, as mega troll account SMRT Limited (Feedback) CSI-ed Casey’s profile, work email, boss’ work email, address, mobile number, and the sense (from some of his Facebook posts) that he behaves like quite an ass online (like many of us).
Knowing that everyone around you could potentially know all about everything you hold dear is a great security for good online behaviour.
4. The Internet never forgets
In fact, you can see that the poor fellow already tried to change his FB name to “Anson Stasey”, but the Internet never forgets (his FB URL still said “anton.casey”) and the poor little rich guy eventually deleted his Facebook account. And his Twitter account. And his wife’s Facebook account. His work email is probably flooded with threats too.
5. Mind the trolls, watch for rabid wolves
The Internet is everyone’s new second home (first home for some). That includes entitled mockers like Casey, bigger trolls like SMRT Limited (Feedback) and some outright liars and twisters of the truth, like that-website-that-shall-not-be-named, which propagated a Youtube video Casey apparently made and uploaded weeks before the incident and tried to pass it off as taunting Singaporeans in the wake of the FB expose (when in fact Casey was probably mocking someone else).
As in life, there’s always a bigger fish. Online, there’s always a bigger bully. Everyone who wants to die of old age must watch his own words and steps online, offend only those he/she can afford to offend, and only to a degree that he/she can afford to offend them. The most offhanded comment, taken out of context and twisted grotesquely, can draw a frenzied crowd of bloodthirsty online zombies.
Welcome to Social Media 101. It’s a jungle out there.