Tweeting away your privacy rights

You think you’re pretty clever with your witty status updates and with all your followers hanging onto your every tired Twitter-Tweet? Those pictures of you and your girlfriends funneling vodka will never see the light of day because you have them set to private, right? And no one can hold those remarks you made about wanting to set fire to the library during finals against you, can they? Well guess again friends, because all of us are getting owned by the social-networking sites we rely on for everything from party planning, communication, Facebook-stalking, blogging – you name it. Look closely at those Terms and Conditions we all knowingly accept without reading. You lose the rights to everything – from your witty updates to those snapshots of last weekend – the minute you post them. Sure, you ‘own’ the material you post, technically. However, once you post it ‘- according to most Terms and Conditions ‘- you give your networking site du jour the rights to use the material any way they see fit. ‘ From using it in an ad or removing the content in general, to handing it to authorities – the material belongs to them. And while we’re on the subject of rights, let’s talk about what you have the right to post on these sites. Really, you can post anything you damn well please, but the veil of anonymity the Internet sometimes gives us is not an iron curtain. Everything you say — everything – can and will be held against you. Forever. Take Paul Chambers, for example. According to NY Daily News, Chambers – irate that the Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster, England was shut down because of heavy snow – Tweeted that the airport had ‘a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!’ A week later, he was arrested under anti-terrorism laws and now all of his fancy social-networking gadgets belong to the authorities. This case is hard to dispute,’ as the authorities did have a legitimate reason for arresting him. So instead, let’s take the case of Adorian Deck, the young genius behind the Twitter blog @OMGFacts, as a different example. ‘ Deck would post little tidbits of information on his blog. Most of the time he posted just trivial, unsubstantial facts taken found with Google. However, when he blogged that MLK Jr. spent his last night on earth having sex with two women, social networkers around the Internet set fire to his blog. Metaphorically. Deck and Chambers aren’t the only two bloggers bigoted by their brethren, either. Bloggers all over the Internet receive hate mail and death threats – others have had their blogs shut down simply for what they say. You may be ‘free’ to say whatever you want, but the power of the Internet gives everyone from celebrities to reporters, from your professor to your Grandma ‘- even the authorities ‘- the right to share their opinions about your opinions with everyone else around the world, so watch what you say. Your innocent Tweets just got serious.