Going Public with Private Information: Personal & Company Information to Wikileaks, LooseChange911 & "No Easy Day"

Sharing of Private Information Online, Should it go Public?To share or not to share, that is the question! With the emergence of social media and the internet as a whole, it has been very easy to share any kind of information online. This has served the general online community well since good information spreads fast.  In many cases, news spreads through social media networks  faster that any other channel of communication. This even aids in economic globalization because  many countries benefit when people know from the internet that they have good products with a cheap price.  Once the web came around, countries could no longer monopolize the markets because everyone became knowledgeable of the fair market value of what they are selling. Thus, the web normalizes  the fair market values of various markets at a global scale which ultimately helps everyone.

As much as we can spread good news online fast, bad news also spreads at an equal fast and furious pace. This is where the topics of online ethics and responsibility in sharing information come into play. Hence, bad news shared on the web can negatively affect many people on a large and small  scale way.

Should you share your private life online?

There are people that have very public lives (mine included to some extent!) and there are some that are very private.  Everyone has their own reasons why they share or don’t share their  private information online.  People have their own set of friends with their own social norms and generational tendencies. What you share online may affect how your circle of friends treat you, how your employer and co-workers treat you, and also how the world community treats you.  People can react to your posts in a good way or in a bad way. Ultimately, most of us want to avoid negative reactions to what we share on the web.

A simple party picture may give different thoughts based on the viewers perception.
Image Credit: TripAdvisor, Pub Crawl New York

For example, just a  simple photo posted online may get different reactions  from different people. If some acquaintances that  are not really close to you but you are both connected on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or what not, people will interpret your photos based on their own perception of you in the picture. That perception is built upon any current knowledge they have of you as well.

People are also drawing from their own personal experiences in similar situations like in the picture, which can differ  from person to person. Lastly, if people don’t know you that well, they may draw their opinions  from their experience, the experiences of others they know, or from pop culture.

For instance, let’s say you post the partying photo above on Facebook. Then, your employer, who only knows you on a  professional level sees it on their newsfeed.  They may have not experienced you partying in a club yet, so this picture makes her think of her  former roommate in her college days that came  home from parties wasted and bringing home random guys every night. Your employer may perceive the photo as similar to her past experience and may think the people in the party photo above are doing the same thing. Now this is just a photo example, and this can also happen even in the words you say, the websites you share and more.

I am not saying sharing photos or your thoughts and opinions online is a bad thing. But it is a good practice to double check what the online sharing policies are with your employers. Use your best judgement on how they would perceive you and if the information you share online will affect you positively or negatively in the workplace. 

Be careful with what you share about your job

Since there are so many instances of this already, and some are more popular than others, instead of highlighting any of them, I simply searched on Google: facebook post got fired. And the whole page 1 was more of news items of actual events, where someone or a group of people were fired based on what they posted on Facebook. Only 1 result on page 1 of Google was not a news item but an informative piece about what can get you fired when posting on Facebook.

Fired for Facebook Post
Search results on Google for the phrase: facebook post got fired

How much should you share about the government?

Let’s go outside of a company and move on to a larger scale, the country. It is the government that tries to make sure the welfare of the citizens of the country are properly addressed. As much as the government does try to do this in any country, it is not always in line with the general public. Which is why elections take place and people vote so that the voice of the majority is heard and a utilitarian approach is made. For the most part, decisions are made in favor of the greater good. And often to avoid chaos due to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, false judgement or whatever you want to call it, sometimes it is better to keep some private information private and not share it with the public.

On the other hand, keeping private information private may be skewing up with the general public’s decisions since they are unaware of the private information. I am not the person who is going to say what can and cannot be shared to the public online, as  different people have different views on this. Here are a few examples.

Julian Assagne’s Wikileaks

Wikileaks Screenshot
A screenshot of Wikileaks' About page.

Wikileaks is a website that does in all the ways it can to gain access to private government information and shares it to the public. The founder of the site, Julian Assagne appears to do this more of a personal responsibility to let the people know about this because he believes people deserve the truth and his organization is a self-declared non-profit organization. Which you can also never exclude the notion that maybe he is doing this for profit, for fame and popularity. Wikileaks has gain many insider connections and has gained many sources of information that were meant to be private, but in Assagne’s opinion, it should be public knowledge. One of the most popular leaks Wikileaks has posted out in the public was the military soldier report logs that were written while at war. The ones that were specifically posted were from the military people in the wars at Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dylan Avery & Korey Rowe’s Loosechange 911

Now, let’s also look at  Loosechange 911, which makes a lot of us wonder, is this the truth? Bending the truth? Or not the truth at all? The collection of facts put together in Loosechange 911 is trying to prove the point that the people responsible for the 9-11 attacks are not the people who we think are responsible for the attacks. This now becomes a conspiracy theory. And like any other conspiracy theory, I normally treat it with a grain of salt. Now if this were true, who knows, should I really be concerned or not? Is there really a greater good for all of this at the expense of others? Or it is just forcing connections of facts trying to come up with these theories while Dylan Avery and Korey Rowe might be trying to make  money from the  popularity of their movie? Who knows, maybe. Although being in the Internet Marketing space, if they really wanted to make money here, I think they are doing a poor job, as  they have no affiliate marketing program running,  and don’t seem  to be pushing this video  in a marketing way.

Mark Owen & Kevin Maurer’s No Easy Day

No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
Book Cover of "No Easy Day" by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer

Earlier this week on Sunday, September 9th, 60 Minutes aired an interview with the former Navy SEAL and author of “No Easy Day”, the book about the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. IMI’s Co-Founder and CMO, Brent Gleeson is a former Navy SEAL that served with the author in their platoon at SEAL Team 5. Their task unit was the first in Baghdad and was running a “capture or kill” mission in conjunction with the CIA.

TMZ contacted Brent for comments on the book which has sparked intense controversy among the US government as well as the Navy SEAL community itself. The key question is about the possible erosion of OPSEC (operational security). In the following interview Brent gives his opinion on the matter.

IMI’s CMO Brent Gleeson on TMZ Discussing Best Selling Book “No Easy Day”

In comparing this with Wikileaks which is also about sharing  top secret information, and Loosechange911 which is putting together various pieces of facts and figures in attempt to make a bigger picture, No Easy Day is the true account of a person that was actually there. Based on my current knowledge, Mark Owen is not the real name of the former US Navy SEAL team 6 author.

Whatever you share online, make sure you thought of it more than a hundred times

Whether it is personal information, something about your job, your community, your friends, the government, try thinking ahead of all the possible consequences involved. Somehow I think many of the people in the examples above did think about this and still pushed through with it, because they also prepared for any possible consequences that may happen. But for you, are you prepared for the consequences when you share information online to the public that was intended to be kept private?

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