Think before you type

By Ross Pringle


Social media can be a blessing and a curse.

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow the easy, instantaneous spreading of information. They allow families divided by oceans to maintain contact and share photos, bring together long-lost friends and ensure that bonds of mateship are not lost through distance.

But there is a downside to this wonderful world of instant messaging. Quite aside from some of the inane material found online, there is a dangerous component to some posts. In some ways it is driven by the ease in which an instinctive, instant reaction can be widely broadcast.

Take for example, the reaction to the post on the Chronicle Facebook page claiming a random attack on a group of young people. There was claim and counter-claim about who did what and what should be done to those accused of being in the wrong. Among all the text speak, street lingo and other colloquialisms were some pretty scary statements. Aside from the coarse language used by some, there were taunts, threats and all manner of accusations.

Perhaps it is so easy to comment that people forget that what they post is public and subject to the law. That so many were from mobile devices suggests they were sent in the heat of the moment without thought or regard for any consequences.

It is an offence to incite violence, racial hatred or make threats against people's well-being. Yet that is exactly what some did, despite warnings.

There are some oft-touted golden rules for posting on Facebook. As with emails and text messages, never post or send in anger. Consider who might see what you say. People may believe that what they post is private and shared only among friends but that is far from the case, especially on a public forum like the Chronicle's Facebook page.

Users would do well to consider what their grandparents, parents or even children would make of their remarks. Consider that any employer or prospective employer could access those comments too.

It has been noted that people have lost their jobs or faced action because of comments posted on Facebook. Others have found that their application for a position went nowhere because of the image portrayed on social media, uncovered when the potential employer searched for the applicant's online activity.

The Chronicle welcomes posts on its social media site, as it does comments on our website. But we urge posters to consider the ramifications before sending their words into cyberspace.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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