Rules for parents:
1. Teach them young. Explain that there is no such thing as privacy online.
2. Supervise rigorously. Track and monitor their actions.
3. Choose age-appropriate online things for them to do.
As always: know their friends and friends parents, communicate often, and don’t be naive. Yes, your kid would too do that. Oy.
The Internet started picking on Jessi Slaughter relentlessly. But it was more than just mocking: People started circulating Jessi’s real name, phone number, address and links to all her social networking accounts. Someone prank called her. According to Encyclopedia Dramatica, pranksters spammed her Facebook and MySpace accounts, had pizzas delivered to her house and were considering sending call girls off Craigslist to the address. (Encyclopedia Dramatica currently has a three part section on How to troll Jessi: 1) There are pics of her holding her boobs 2) Tell her to kill herself 3) Tell her dad that we are going to beat her up.) Slaughter’s information and videos also shot through tumblr, aided by the blogging platform’s reblogging system.
Eventually, Jessi’s dad filmed himself yelling at the camera. Boing Boing picked up the video and a meme was born. Actually, the video’s so good it spawned at least three different memes: You dun Goofed, Consequences will never be the same and Cyberpolice.
1. What are your kids doing on the Internet? Normally, we find fears about kids on the Internet the product of technophobic hysteria. But this case is a very good argument for why parents should at least be vaguely aware of what their kids are up to on the Internet. Is your 11 year-old girl embroiled in an underage sex scandal with the lead singer of a popular emo band? Is she threatening to shoot people on YouTube videos? Maybe now is the time to invest in good parental control software before she becomes a meme.
2. Tumblr is becoming a home for trolls. Tumblr was originally the good-natured domain of hip New York creatives. It was, on balance, a creative force on the Internet. But the role it played in trolling Jessi Slaughter shows that Tumblr is developing a nasty side as well. Tumblr founder David Karp better get on this before Tumblr becomes 4chan with a slick minimalist interface.
Excellent wrap-up of tracking information.
The internet ain’t no place for the innocent. It’s the wild west around these parts, with infrastructure still being built and social feedback loops yet to fully developed. There is little policing, few laws. At times, it can feel like an ominous town, with bad guys sizing you up from under their ten-gallon hat–just waiting for a moment of weakness.
Bad guys don’t have to be quick on the draw on the internet. They can be stupid, unemployed ner-do-wells with nothing better to do than sit around and hassle people. In fact, a big part of the discourse online is just that. People with too much time on their hands hassling people who actually work and produce something.
I have written before that the internet is a place to share information, not hide it, and I wanted to illustrate that with some examples:
First, the not-so-anonymous blogger. There are many bloggers out there who don a nom de plume to hide their identity. America has a very long history regarding pseudonyms. And many people use them online for professional reasons–they have a job or profession where it wouldn’t do to have their opinion known. But online anonymity is an illusion. A determined person or P.I. can find a persons true identity fairly easily.
Example 1: Congressional staffer boinking Congressmen and writing about it.
Example 2: Hacker terrorizing others. (He’s a professional, mind you, and STILL got caught.)
Example 3: All the anonymous asshats cyber stalking Governor Palin.
In all cases, the bloggers were smart. They knew the internet and they were exposed. Word to the wise. If you’re going to be anonymous, know that a controversial topic will likely uncover you.
Second, social media as a weapon. The above folks were using blogs rather destructively, but some anonymous bloggers are constructive and deserve anonymity. Still, it doesn’t take much to uncover someone. People can also use social media to destroy.
Danny Glover recounts how a not-so-sweet mommy blogger stomped her cyber feet:
Extortion has found its way into the blogosphere — and all for a pair of Crocs. A greedy “mommy blogger” at the recent BlogHer conference threatened to write something bad about the maker of Crocs if its representative didn’t find her a free pair of the comfy sandals.
No doubt about it, that’s low. As I see it, there would have been nothing wrong with said mommy blogger bemoaning her missed opportunity to get good swag at the conference. But threatening to go negative as a way to get a gift she clearly didn’t deserve is completely unethical.
The same is true for anyone who uses social media as a weapon. The blogosphere is an effective check against bad customer service, but customers who abuse it are as bad, or worse, than the companies who mistreat them.
It is as easy as a couple clicks to ruin a person’s reputation–or try to. While the vile creatures who spread false rumors and invective about Sarah Palin are now outed and exposed for frauds, Andrew Sullivan continues on his merry way after being as salacious and evil as his online equivalent Perez Hilton. Cruel language can be devastatingly effective as both of these rumor mongers have proven.
Finally, the internet world connects directly to the real world. It is the real world. The notion that there is a separation is an illusion. People assume that those online are somehow more trustworthy–or, that they’re so far away that even if they are kinda bad, they’re harmless. That is not true. Consider this:
U.K. insurance company, Legal & General, took a survey of 2,092 users of social networking Web sites. Almost four out of ten (38 percent) of those who use social media at places like Twitter or Facebook post their vacation plans. Potential burglars could find this information valuable in seeking targets of crime.
The report titled “The Digital Criminal,” said that criminals could obtain vital, personal information from online users of social media.
It is nigh to impossible to hide my own activities. Someone in my family inevitably gives it away. You’re in Michigan?! Where? Or, in the case of my Australia trip, my family didn’t have to write, tweet, Facebook or say anything. I live-tweeted the whole trip. Still, I try to not give away my activities–exact location. I try to have a house sitter. Those sorts of things to mitigate against the dangers.
The internet should be interacted with rationally. It isn’t a magical place. There are people on the ends of the intertubes. They can be bad, good and as mixed as a real life person can be. They are real live people. Even anonymously. Even remotely.
The Politico’s Jonathan Martin cites this example of how the Left whomps the Right:
This week, for example, a young liberal writer named Spencer Ackerman heard that McCain committed a gaffe on Iraq in an unaired portion of an interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric. Ackerman, a former reporter for The New Republic and The American Prospect who now blogs at the liberal Firedoglake site, posted the transcript and pointed out the relevant portion just after 5:00 p.m. Tuesday night.
It was picked up by the Huffington Post two hours later, discussed on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show, moved onto The Associated Press wire overnight and by Wednesday afternoon McCain was forced to respond.
“We amplify its effect and then stay on it,” explains Arianna Huffington, namesake of the popular liberal news and entertainment hub.
What immediately sprang to mind were examples of conservatives finding examples of Media bias or gaffs by Obama, but here’s the thing: the left-wing media refuses to “amplify it’ because it doesn’t suit their purposes. Good luck getting a one day turnaround on exposing an Obama faux-pas or miscommunication or straight up misinformation.
Here are some examples:
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs had to go to the major media who eventually used his work to give him credit for exposing Iran’s fauxtography. So, they finally noted what he found but gave him no credit because to do so would be to amplify a conservative’s message.
Gateway Pundit exposes misses, lies, fabrications and misinformation every, single day. I wonder how often his work is “amplified” by the press?
Michelle Malkin makes it her mission to expose and shift the balance of news power. She is both pundit and reporter and she is hated for it.
So, while I think the Right can and should do better to find and break conservative stories, I’d also say that there are many who are doing just that but are less likely to get the “amplification” that a liberal blogger would.
Matt Sheffield of Newsbusters.org and Rathergate fame, writes an Op-Ed for the Washington Times today, about what is wrong with the Right and he comes to different conclusions, and better ones, than Jonathan Martin:
A good Web site and marketing plan is no substitute for good operations in other areas, however. That’s why it is frustrating to hear some Internet consultants promising the world if you’ll just pay them to build your site for you. It simply doesn’t work that way. Good technology is good tactics. Good tactics can never save a bad strategy, but a good strategy usually requires good tactics. Countless political and business startup Web sites come and go, many built on technology that was far ahead of its time.
As different as they may seem, both the spending and the technology camps are making the same type of argument: one of tactics, not strategy. The reason the Right has fallen on hard times is that it is in need of a strategic recalibration, not just newer and more conservative tactics.
Agreed. The problem isn’t technological or even bias by the mainstream media against the conservative message, although the bias amplifies the Left at the expense of the Right. The problem is the conservative message, or rather, the lack of one. No amount of exposing lies can substitute for supplying truth. A good conservative message rings true. It is simple and clear and understandable.
Since McCain is the new voice of Republicans, he’s going to have to hone his message. I have a few hints about what would work:
1. Small government (but I don’t think McCain believes this.)
2. Keep lower taxes
3. Energy independence by drilling
4. Free market = more jobs (compare Michigan with Texas)
5. Strong defense (no mention of Iraq needed–the issue is over for Americans)
6. Shore up infrastructure
7. Protect the environment–religious conservatives are very moved by this issue
8. America as the leader of innovation–this notion needs to be reintroduced and reinforced
9. Education freedom–putting the power back in the hands of parents
Sheffield concludes this way:
The conservative movement needs to take stock of its principles in the 21st century and find ways to reach out to voters about the issues of our time. Fighting terrorism is vitally important, but it is far from the only issue facing America. It’s time for the Right to step up to the plate and forcefully articulate an agenda that addresses not only foreign policy and other traditional Right-friendly topics, but also issues like the environment, education, high-technology and government reform – in a manner that adheres to conservative principles and exploits available technologies.
Conservative leaders need to get the message clear, concise, understandable and it has to ring true. From there, the McCain campaign in particular, needs to change their website from “send me money” to “connect with me now”. Ideas first. Get the ideas right, the money will flow like water.
Bloggers on the Right need to connect and support similarities and stop focusing on the differences. There is far more we agree upon. Newsbusters, Redstate, TheNextRight, HotAir, PajamasMedia and Porkbusters are getting it right by pulling together Right-leaning thinkers. There is power in numbers.
And like Eric Erickson of TheNEXTRight says, “We stop minding our own business and we engage. We stop being pundits yelling into the wind and start being activists yelling into the telephone.”
We can do all of this.
1. The Right isn’t reaching the next generation of voters because the Right is clueless about the next generation’s interaction with information, media and technology.
2. The Right needs to be more like the Left online to succeed.
Marks says this about Michelle Malkin’s speech:
I didn’t write down the exact words that she said, but this is more or less her statement:
“Conservatives aren’t actually behind technologically, we’re just doing it differently.”
Again, this isn’t her quote word for word, but its close enough that you get the gist of what she said. And you know what, she’s right – at least in one aspect. Our side is doing our own thing. Just look at barackobama.com vs. johnmccain.com and you’ll see it. Obama’s site actually engages its users: at their core, every link, every page, every single item is not about Barack Obama. It’s crowd-powered – it is about what you, the average American, can do. It is well-designed, well-organized, and well-branded.
And McCain’s site? By modern design standards, it is mediocre at best. More importantly, it’s not about getting involved, and it fails at engaging visitors; virtually the entire thing is about John McCain. And the best part is that this isn’t John McCain 1.0. This is John McCain’s second website of the cycle. So yes, they’re certainly doing their own thing, but that’s exactly it – they are way behind the curve.
There is no question, to me, that the Old Republican Guard just hasn’t caught up to how important, influential and vital the online community is these days. It is only virtual in that people are not face to face, in person. But that is entirely missing new media’s and the online world in general, purpose: to connect people with people and people with information. That’s it. And what do politicians want to do? They want to connect with people and get their ideas (information) shared. So they should love the internet and on the Left, they seem to get it. And that was helped by Howard Dean. He got the power, harnessed it and the momentum of the grassroots (“nutroots”) people continues to be the fuel of the Democratic party.
The political analysts and politicians on the Right interact with the blogworld and technology in general like the athletic guy choosing teams in gym class: bloggers are the smelly, nerdy kid who gets picked last. And the Republicans do this to their own demise. It is short-sighted. For one, young people spend so much time doing social networking, gaming, and other entertaining things online that they find the interaction online to be as natural as these old guys found the cruising the local soda fountain–yes, the influencers on the Right are that old. Nothing personal here, but when the rousing speakers at a conservative blog conference are Bob Novak and Barry Goldwater, Jr., it tells you something. (Of course the Nutroots had Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi–and just because her plastic surgery is trying to make her look 20, doesn’t mean she is 20.) My point is this: these old guys view the new technology with suspicion and it shows. That has to change. These guys need to get hip to the new media. Repeat after me, “New Media is my friend.”
Now, to Michelle’s point about us not being behind but just doing it differently. Well, I videotaped her speech and will have to go back and look it over. In fact, while I’m doing this I’ll upload her stuff. My sense from her speech was that she was trying to encourage the bloggers to keep on keeping on and that we don’t have to be mean and dull-witted and Machiavellian and lying neanderthals in order for us to get our message out effectively. And to that point, I agree with her. The minute the Right descends into cruel rants against Ted Kennedy like the rants pointed at Tony Snow, is the minute the Right no longer needs to exist. It will be all over. The Left has no moral center so they are free to use any means to achieve their end. The Right does have a moral center and so is constrained. Still, that is not an excuse. The Right must do better.
To McCain’s website: The first impression is Give Me Money. The second impression is Have You Given Me Money Yet? Barack Obama’s site has all the chummy, soft focus family feel that one associates with American greatness. And Marks has a point: The Republicans and conservative are NOT doing good enough technically and by extension, relationally with their voters.
Technology is not the end. It is a means to the end. It is not the end-all, be-all. Unlike others, I believe that the Old Media isn’t going anywhere either, New Media won’t be the savior of the Republican party and Conservative movement. What will save the movement will be relationships, just like it always has and always will. And here’s where the old folks at the top of the conservative power structure need to wake the hell up. The internet is only about sharing. It’s essence is being a part of a greater community. It’s existence is to share information–personally, politically, scientifically, you name it. The internet shares it.
A politician wants to share a message. That is his job. The internet shares. And no, the Right does not understand this and that’s why we’re behind. We have lots of work to do.
UPDATE: Newsflash, old people running the party: Old people are on the internet. My 91 year old Grandma plays Wii at her senior center. So it’s not just the young people who see the power of the internet.