Nowhere to hide, so think before you type

January 15, 2014

Two recent incidents of bad behaviour on social media have resulted in two people coming under police investigation (“Man under investigation for posting racist remarks as ‘Heather Chua’” and “Police report lodged over racist remarks on Twitter”, online; Jan 11).

Both incidents showed that the alleged perpetrators lacked understanding about the responsible use of social media.

Apparently, the person behind “Heather Chua” wanted to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, while the girl who made racist remarks claimed that it was simply a rant.

The Singapore Kindness Movement has been observing, with both bemusement and alarm, how careless or, worse, rude and antisocial we can be on social media, perhaps thinking that we are anonymous.

These two people are not the first and will not be the last, unless we learn that there is a point to being gracious, even online.

The thing most people forget about social media is that despite whatever privacy settings one has on one’s page, it is not private space but media, as the name implies. It is not a diary of one’s private thoughts, kept under lock and key.

The idea of there being a lock and key online is fallacious.

One is not truly anonymous nor is one’s personal data truly secure on social media. The CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) skills of the local online community have proven this many times.

One must treat social media as a public forum and behave accordingly. For example, the girl who proclaimed on her Twitter page that she was a racist claimed later that it was her private space.

She could have saved herself shame if she had first thought whether she would have said the same thing at a podium in front of 17,000 people, the number of followers she had on social media.

And would “Heather Chua” have used his real Facebook profile to say what he did?

Think before you type. It is not rocket science.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in TODAY – January 15, 2014

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