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Monday, 10 August 2015

The Necessity of Protecting Your Digital Tattoo

An amusing incident occurred a few years ago.  Edward Cook - 6’4” 36 year old American wanted for credit card fraud and identity theft.   My father, Edward Cook – 5’10”, 50 year old British/Canadian citizen.  This is who my father was mistaken for by creditors and police.  Although my Mom thought it very funny that my father could be mistaken for a 6’4” 36 year old crook, it was fortunate for him that the problem was easily resolved and my father’s credit and personal information was secure.  This might have given my parents a chuckle after the fact (mostly my Mom), but protecting and maintaining a positive online “you brand” that shields and safeguards both your personal image and private information is something that everyone should be concerned about.

Start by Googling your name.  Googling your name is not narcissistic as some might think; it is actually a chore those of us who use the internet and social media should perform every now and then to take care of our online image.  I Googled my name, and was very proud of the fact that I discovered very little personal information and one pretty good picture.  Although I have used the internet for many years, I entered the social media arena only a few years ago and am beyond the need of posting drunken girl’s night out photos; however I am a serious job hunter and am very conscious of how potential employers might view my Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.  I want to be judged by the lifestyle that I actually lead and the person that I am, not by a Saturday night at my best friend’s bachelorette party. 

Being online is like being in public and what it means to be public or private has changed in the last 10 years. With the invention of the personal computer in the late 80’s the very notion of privacy has been re-defined and nowadays may be influenced by culture, economics, society, religion and numerous other factors.  Social media encourages the publication of private information to an unparalleled extent.  In most cases we contribute information willing and knowingly, however when another party posts pictures or information unbeknownst to us, we are powerless.  But are we???

Manage Your Online Image

 A)  Maintain a consistent and positive message.  Adopt an  appropriate user name and photo.  Think before you post comments and pictures or like/share a page. 



                                                       B)  Check your settings.  Ensure that your settings on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites reflect a positive image.



C)  Consider your audience.  Maintain your self-respect and personal image.  Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandparents or a prospective employer to see. 



These are just some of the guidelines that I’ve implemented for all of my social media pages that allow me to be in command of my online reputation.  Another means of monitoring your social presence is through such search engines as Social Mention  or Boardreader  These sites will allow you to monitor what others may publish without your knowledge.  With a young son who is always looking over my shoulder when I’m browsing Facebook, I hope he’ll follow my guarded but vigilant example for his social media pages in the not so distant future, whatever they may be. Below I’ve suggested a little help.


Online Reputation Management for Dummies Paperback– October 9, 2012
By Lori Randall Stradtman


Not only do you need to protect your online reputation, but it’s imperative to safeguard your private information such as your social insurance number, financial information, passwords and pin numbers etc. Here are some of the guidelines I strictly adhere to; 

a)  Create passwords using a combination of upper and lower case, numbers and symbols and change them on a regular basis. 

b)  Use antivirus software and scan regularly

c)  Don’t open emails from unknown sources or visit questionable websites

d)  Make sure you understand the consequences of sharing private information.  Here is some help. 


Please take a few minutes of your time and review what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police have to say about identity theft and how important it is to be educated about the dangers of having your private information stolen and used for illegal purposes.  Remember it is against the law. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Activism:  Have we forgotten what it’s all about?
Fifty five years ago, one of the key events of activism in the American civil rights movement occurred.  Four young African American freshmen from nearby North Carolina A & T College gathered up great courage and sat down in the whites only area of the Woolworths segregated lunch counter in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, thereby standing up for what they and thousands of other African American citizens believed they were entitled to, racial equality.  In doing so, these students’ actions had an immediate and lasting impact and helped to forever change the landscape of civil rights in the troubled southern United States.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, and this all occurred without so much as a tweet or a like.
Please read the attached article and learn more about the Greensboro 4:
These events that were shared in Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Small Change:  Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”, gives us much to reflect upon regarding today’s use of social media for the practise of social and political action.    Does it make deep, lasting and revolutionary change as did the activities of the Greensboro Four in 1960?  I don’t believe so.
Gladwell’s composition was an attempt to bring a sense of reality to the over-inflated sense of importance that we bestow on the likes of Facebook and Twitter.  To say that social media is not valuable and doesn’t have its place in society is foolish. It does have its place to help facilitate and contribute to activism and social change in a low risk, low commitment, low engagement sort of way, not drive it.


Contemplate such stunning events as the pro democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square Beijing China on June 4th, 1989.  Despite the expulsion of foreign journalists and the strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press, photos of the heavy military presence were broadcast around the world.  A 140 word tweet on social media would not have helped the Chinese citizens persevere in the face of unprecedented danger the way the support and face to face physical bond of 1000’s of protestors did in Tiananmen Square. Armchair activism is inefficient in regards to challenging the status quo.
It’s the offline, face-to-face relationships that are the most significant.

 Please read the attached article and learn more about the Tiananmen Square protests:

On the other hand, in US President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, he was the first president to use social media to reach out to the American public during his run for election.  Obama’s use of Twitter and Facebook enabled his campaign organizers and supporters to reach out to a rapidly growing user base across all demographics thereby strengthening and complimenting his face to face campaigning.

If we look at the meaning of activism it is defined as: a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.  These historic events noted above are clear examples of two distinct types of activism and plainly show how social media would not have helped in the case of Tiananmen Square in its “direct and vigorous action” and how it had a powerful effect in bringing about dramatic change for the 44th president of the United States. 

I don’t believe that social media activism furnishes the physical human association that provides the necessary supportive bond when faced with adversity.  Sitting behind your computer is a safe means of activism with the appearance of action.  It doesn’t require any personal sacrifice or commitment and is not the key to searching for an explanation or solution to a significant deeply rooted problem.  In Greensboro and Beijing it was all or nothing, on Facebook and Twitter you have nothing to lose.

Thanks to the involvement and bravery of not only my ancestors and many other courageous people in many G7 countries, the high risk activism of the past is uncommon now, but still very recognizable and unfortunately necessary in other parts of the world. 

Regardless of how you feel about social media, thanks to the ingenuity, creativity and imagination of individuals we have an invaluable tool that has limitless possibilities.  So what does the future hold?

 Please take a moment to read another prospective - Pros & Cons of Digital Activism

Independent Lens, Retrieved from 

Widner, Jeff, Associated Press, Monroe Gallery of Photography, Retrieved from - 

New York Times, November 5, 2008, Retrieved from 

Hesse, Monika, The Washington Post, July 4, 2009, Retrieved from:  

Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Retrieved from:

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Experiences of a Social Media Sabbatical

Could 48 hours be magical without social media?  This is what I know a lot of people will be wondering, this and maybe numerous other questions about its affects on society in general.
During my self-imposed vacation from social media, I contemplate a number of questions regarding social media and how it affects not only my tiny world, but the world around me.
For me, this holiday was relatively easy to endure.  There were certain times of the day when I would automatically turn to check my status, but saw that little blue app staring up at me and remembered my promise and its purpose.
Due to my age and busy schedule, my time away from social media didn’t really bother me at all.  My family and friends understand that my focus on social media is limited and therefore probably didn’t notice that I was absent. 
Throughout my sabbatical I thought about how communication has changed over my lifetime.  Looking back I can see how dramatic the changes have been.  From the mass production of home computers to the creation of social media, these powerful tools have revolutionized how we communicate, do business, and how world events are shared on a global scale.
I couldn’t think of anything new that I had learned from this exercise. It all seemed so customary, but after some deliberation, I realized that I could be putting my time to better use.  Instead of reaching for my phone, those few moments could be better spent completing a variety of other tasks, such as; planning for the day/week ahead, what to have for dinner and countless other jobs.  I had learnt something!  One thing that my sabbatical will not alter is that of my future online habits.  Limited to occasional searches, my busy lifestyle does not give me the spare time to idly browse the internet or social media.   
Critically thinking about the bigger picture, social media has influenced a diverse variety of topics and has transformed how a large percentage of people communicate, do business and interact socially.  In the mid to late 1800’s through the genius of Samuel Morse, William H. Russell and Alexander Graham Bell the ingenious inventions of the telegraph, the Pony Express and the telephone helped us to communicate.  Today in 2015 thanks to the talents of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Chad Hurley, Steven Chen and Jawed Karim we have the remarkable creations of Apple, Facebook and YouTube that have changed the face of technology and given individuals the ability to communicate, collaborate and connect with anyone at any time anywhere in the world.  

                                       Our head of social media is the customer.” –McDonald’s
Social media has;
  •  Increased the ability to collectively harness collective intelligence on projects of great variety located anywhere in the world
  • Allowed communication with coworkers and business leaders and invites comments, ideas and a innovative way of advertising to a much larger audience to reflect the changing face of business technology
  •   Made entrepreneurship and global business a viable possibility for anyone to utilize with the power of reaching millions
·         Allows people to share ideas, personal experiences and comments on businesses, products and services.  This allows companies to move forward with crucial knowledge to aid in product direction and development as a result of user-generated feedback


Social media has;
  •  Endowed us with the ability create and view citizen media within seconds of its occurrence from around the world that traditionally could take days and weeks.  In today’s technologically advanced environment with a large percentage of the population owning cell phones that have cameras, even the smallest event is captured and released for the world’s consumption.
  • Made communication possible to not only those whose mobility is restricted, but even in remote rural areas and those difficult to access by traditional means of transportation

Impact on society

Social media has;
  • Helped to unite people with a common goal or belief whether political or social.  This is very evident during elections and as recently seen in the US during the police shootings of unarmed African American citizens
  •  Increasingly allowed people to find, make and keep close ties with family and friends on any continent
  • Helped people to gain notoriety, and expand their influence whether due to a upcoming album release, public intoxication or to raise ratings on a popular television show

In conclusion, there is no doubt that social media has made a profound effect on business, society, journalism, politics and many other facets of life, and it’s here to stay.  The affects have been both positive and negative; however I believe that overall the end result will only improve our very existence.