When Free Speech/Privacy Advocates Lose Their Mind

As some of you know, I play an online game on a site called Empire Avenue. I’ve written about it a couple of times, and if you know nothing about it check out the link above.

Facebook: The privacy saga continues
Creative Commons License opensource.com via Compfight

This post isn’t really about Empire Avenue, but it plays prominently in this tale, a cautionary tale for all of you who want the cake of freedom of speech and the ability to eat your rights to privacy at the same time. How ugly will this tale end? Stick around…

Empire Avenue has a number of communities where people can get together to discuss all kinds of stuff. I joined a few early on in the game, never liked them much because it didn’t seem anyone had anything to say, and never joined one again.

However, a friend of mine sent me a link to one of the general communities of people who are considered leaders on the site because she wanted me to check something out. Seems there was some general fighting going on about some of the processes in the background of the game that she wanted me to see.

In the middle of it all was this guy, whose name (fake or real) I’m not going to mention, nor his blog, links, Twitter page, etc, because I don’t want to get in the middle of it all; you’ll see why as I get through this story.

Anyway, this guy seemed to be completely out of control. He came into this particular discussion with a chip on his shoulder for some reason and began personally attacking people. He actually came to the defense of someone I’m not even sure he really knows because of something that was said in a Facebook group, and on that one and only point I agreed with him on.

However, he went too far and started calling out anyone he could think of who’s a major player in the game (which is why I’m never mentioned lol) in this forum. And if it had stayed there things might have died down.

But you know that’s not how this story goes. Turned out the guy has a blog on WordPress.com and he started ranting and writing these tomes about the evils of Empire Avenue and naming names and quoting people and pasting images of conversations from the community forum that, in essence, was a major violation of people’s privacy, especially since many of those people had nothing to do with the initial conversation and, in his “wisdom”, he decided to call out those who attempted to call for peace; sigh…

If it's on the Internet, it isn't private.
Creative Commons License DonkeyHotey via Compfight

One of the reasons this guy thought he could get away with all this abhorrent behavior is because he went behind a fake name; actually, two fake names, one of those being a deceased actor/comedian. So he went nuts, saying all this stuff about everyone he could think of, posting their images and the like, and boosting it all via his Twitter account as well. He became the Empire Avenue troll; there’s a nice business gift.

And he proclaimed his right to free speech when some of those people complained about his putting their names on his blog and posting them on Twitter, and said that anything on Empire Avenue was his to use as he wished.

However, he started to dislike some of the backlash he started getting on Twitter, and at this point he put out a cease and desist… on Twitter? On Twitter, if you don’t want to see something you just block people, but that wasn’t enough for him. He didn’t want them writing anything about him at all, so he put out a cease and desist against everyone who was against him, and he wrote about it on his blog.

And he started sending letters to Empire Avenue, state and federal agencies in the United States and Canada (where EA resides), and in one instance even called the employer of one of the people he had a beef with to say this guy was harassing him online; wow!

But he made some mistakes. See, what most people don’t realize is that if they’ve been on social media for any amount of time they’ve built up a trail that someone with motivation can follow and find out a lot about that person. Who would have more motivation than a guy who had his job threatened by a lunatic? For that matter who would have more motivation because they’d been called out on a lunatic’s blog?

You guessed it; they found out who he was. They got his name, where he went to school, pictures of what he really looked like, his age, pictures of his children (yup, this guy has kids, adult kids, but the folks had some morals and didn’t post pictures of his kids online). And after people talked with each other to confirm that they all had the same information…

They posted it all on Google Plus. Then they put the link out on Facebook and Twitter so anyone who was connected to some of these folks (or in the Facebook group for EA, which I’m a member of) could see it.

Of course I went to read it all. Fascinating stuff, especially the part about being 43 years old and living in the basement of his mother’s house because he has no real job right now. Seems that’s why he has so much time to troll all these EA members.

You know what happened next… part of it anyway. He went off, saying he was going to file a lawsuit against EA for giving out his personal information, and then lawsuits against all these people for violating his privacy. But he also smartened up… slightly. He went back to all those images he’d posted and started blacking out names that weren’t blacked out previously. He also started going back to remove some names from posts he’d written; y’all know it’s too late for that because everyone he named has copies of it all.

20140526_150204
This post needed some cute

At this point he hasn’t backed off, and in an amazing move is actually showing EA shutting him down for his bad behavior, which he can’t see, while still complaining about everyone else violating his privacy, and admitting openly that not only is his name fake (folks can use fake names) but that his “business” information is also fake (folks aren’t allowed to do that part, but since he owned up to it he violated the terms of service), and is thus banned for good.

What’s this story about? Consequences. Many times I’ve written on this blog about consequences for actions and how people need to protect themselves online.

There was a recent news story about a guy who visited some Instagram pages of people who lived in his area that he’d never met, and then he went out and found these people in places they said they congregated, talked to them as if he knew them and told them all kinds of stuff that they thought was private, and only after shocking them with what he knew finally telling them how he’d found it all out (it was all recorded on video). They were all both amazed and shocked because it never occurred to them just how much of themselves they were giving out; lesson learned.

I’ve talked about the topic of controversy and, if you decide to go this route, how it can backfire on you if you’re not prepared for it, and how you want to choose your language carefully if you do decide to take on a subject you know some folks aren’t going to react well to.

I’ve also talked often about privacy, the lack thereof, and how if you’re not going to protect your own privacy all that well that you owe something greater, a major responsibility to your family and friends because most of them probably didn’t ask to be brought into the sphere of social media. That these folks found out about this guy’s kids, with pictures and everything, and his mother, his mother’s house, et al… for a guy talking so much about protecting his privacy he didn’t do a good job of it.

Social media isn’t something anyone should be scared of. But everyone needs to know the inherent dangers of what can happen. On my business blog I’ve talked about the dangers of thinking everyone you work with is your friend and how those folks more often than not will throw you under the bus to save their own skin. It’s like that.

Just two weeks ago two high school girls did two videos on YouTube that were racist against people in their school and community. Now they’ve had to leave school and will be home schooled, even after apologizing, because their safely can’t be guaranteed and the school was suspending them anyway.

Let me spell these lessons out:

* Don’t be stupid online

* Don’t think you can have total privacy online

* Don’t call anyone out unless you’re ready to deal with it

* Don’t think your freedom of speech trumps anyone else’s freedom of speech

* Don’t start none, won’t be none

Anyone disagree with anything I’ve said here? By the way, notice I didn’t mention any names, didn’t link to anything, so only a few people on EA, none of whom read this blog, could ever even figure out who I was talking about. So, if this person finds out about this post & has anything to say… it wasn’t me who violated anyone’s privacy… right? 😉
 

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Your Speech Is Free, But Consequences Aren’t

Brendan, Brendan, Brendan… gone so soon after rising so high… I guess stupidity can follow someone long into their future can’t it?

For those of you who aren’t up to speed, a couple of weeks ago Mozilla, the company that puts out Firefox (my favorite browser by the way), promoted Brendan Eich to the CEO position. In 11 days he was gone, the victim of what I’m going to say is public stupidity in giving money to support the California proposition against gay marriage back in 2008. The uproar was immediate I guess because, being out of the news loop as I sometimes am, I didn’t know it had occurred until the day he’d resigned.

Free speech
Creative Commons License Loozrboy via Compfight

Of all things, I came to the news because of a press release someone put on on a dating site called OKCupid that I saw on Twitter (yes, one of my favorite news sources) trying not to take credit for promoting the initial protest against the hire (but the gloating was obvious) and then reading that not only were a lot of people up in arms about the hire but many people within the company were as well. And the statement made by the head of the board certainly didn’t sound like the normal company speak lines of “We’re sorry to see _____ go…”, instead coming out like “We were wrong, and thanks for helping us see the light.”

What was interesting is that the people who normally could have cared less about anything that happened in tech that believed as Eich did came out saying that this was a clear violation of free speech and that it was setting a dangerous precedent. That once again I felt it was time to straighten everyone out about our free speech laws in this country shows that folks aren’t paying attention to either myself or what’s really going on. I touched upon the topic of being controversial in 2011 and early in 2012 when I talked about the courage it takes to be in social media, and Holly & I touched on the topic when I interviewed her later in 2012, which means I haven’t talked about it in more tha 18 months; my bad. So, let’s get this clear once more, since it really can’t be stated enough times.

In the United States, everyone has the right to express their opinion. What everyone doesn’t have a right to do is state their opinion and not have someone else disagree with it if they choose to. It’s the reason why so many people can love the movie Frozen (count me in) and a few can say they think it’s overrated. It’s the reason why so many young girls love Justin Bieber to the end of the world and others hate his guts (I don’t have an opinion either way).

What everyone has to realize is that, as I stated in the “controversy” article, if you’re strong enough to stand behind your convictions, say whatever you want to say and deal with whatever the consequences might be later on. If your opinions keep you from getting a job later on because they’re counter to what that particular employer wants to deal with, so be it.

Sorry kids, but that’s not the same thing as discrimination, where you don’t hire someone for what they are. No one asked to be black or female or gay or disabled or bald or heavy or… name something.

When we decide to say whatever we want to say, if it’s going to irk someone it could impact your life; that’s just how it goes. I take stands on things all the time, but I try to word my missives in a way that they’re not specifically insulting to anyone. If they take offense I’m ready to deal with it. But I don’t have masses of people hating on me because I’m not stupid.

King Mango Strut 2013, Coconut Grove, Miami, FL (27 of 75)
photo-gator via Compfight

What’s stupid? When you can donate money to a cause you know might hurt you later on and don’t do it anonymously, doing it so you can write it off in your taxes which, if you’re a public official or a public CEO, are allowed to be seen by anyone. Brandon, really?

Here’s a bit of family history. My grandfather was a registered Republican for a major part of his life. He never voted for a single Republican in his entire life. He owned an auto repair shop in a Republican city and knew he’d never get any business if he’d registered as a Democrat. So he did what he had to do to survive, kept his mouth shut even amongst his friends, and voted his conscience. He wasn’t ready to be controversial until he shut down his business, and no one was the wiser until he had nothing to worry about. Freedom of speech? In his day, even with the Constitution? Please!

Freedom of speech is a legal reality; freedom of consequences is a true reality. If you’re big enough or important enough or passionate enough of stupid enough (Facebook drunk pictures; really folks?), those things can come back to hurt you. I know someone who literally changed her name and waited a year for it to sink in so she could start applying for jobs under that name, in hopes that her political views under her other name would become obscure, as she is a liberal fireball but lives in a conservative area. How many of you would want to go through something like that?

Let’s not be too timid to have an opinion but let’s also not be naive. We all know when we’re about to say something on purpose that someone else might not like. If you don’t want to deal with the potential heat then don’t say it. If you can deal with it, and you’ve thought about your future, then go ahead.

Still, as the video below will prove, I believe there are times when you must speak your piece; it’s just how I roll:
 


http://youtu.be/x7MGr36qXYI

 

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June 12th, The Internet, And A Video

Today’s date is June 12th. There were a lot of historical things that occurred on this day that my mind feels are important, or at least interesting, in some fashion. Let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?

Events

1898 – Philippine Declaration of Independence: General Emilio Aguinaldo declares the Philippines’ independence from Spain.

1939 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York.

1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is murdered in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi

1964 – Anti-apartheid activist and ANC leader Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison for sabotage in South Africa.

1967 – The United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declares all U.S. state laws which prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.

1978 – David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam” killer in New York City, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings.

1994 – Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are murdered outside her home in Los Angeles, California.

Born

1916 – Irwin Allen, American film producer

1924 – George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States

1929 – Anne Frank, German-born Dutch Jewish diarist and Holocaust victim

1930 – Jim Nabors, American actor

1941 – Marv Albert, American sportscaster

1941 – Chick Corea, American musician

1971 – Mark Henry, American professional wrestler and World’s Strongest Man winner

Died

1957 – Jimmy Dorsey, American musician

2003 – Gregory Peck, American actor

Holiday

World Day Against Child Labour

Something else happened on this day as well, and that’s the subject of my video. I include this post of mine now on blogging responsibly, modesty, free speech and consequences as further reference.

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What Message Are You Trying To Project?

A strange thing happened to my wife and I last Saturday.

Some Saturday mornings, we decide to go to what’s known as the Regional Market of Central New York. People from all over central New York sell all sorts of things there like fruits and vegetables, candies and cakes, candles and perfumes, fish, clothes, foods, etc. My wife goes almost every Saturday. I’m kind of a part time guy; I invariably have a good time (when it’s warm weather), but you have to go early if you want to be close to everything, otherwise you could have a long walk coming.

This Saturday was going along like any other. I was saying hello to babies, being my naturally friendly self, while my wife was looking at produce that she and a friend were going to share later. This particular week there happened to be a Christian group booth in the middle of one of the display areas, and as we got there I got distracted by some honey roasted cashews on a table to my right. I’m not sure what my wife was doing, as she was slightly behind me, but I heard the man ask her if she would take a flyer he wanted to give her. She politely said no, and his response was “are you ready to die?”

Because I knew she wasn’t in danger I didn’t turn around, but kind of out loud I said “I’m thinking that’s not the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard.” The women in front of me heard it and laughed, and one of them turned around and gave me a high five. I accepted it, but I was thinking “what the heck was that all about?”

In the next display area we came to, a man was smiling and holding out his flyers. This time I said no thanks and walked on, but my wife decided to take his flyer. On the front was what you see in the image: Muslims for Peace. Later on, while sitting in the car while my wife went into a new hair salon to ask some questions, I pulled the flyer out and read through it, and found it somewhat illuminating.

No, I’m not about to go out and become a Muslim. However, I have to say that the two messages my wife and I got literally within minutes of each other were drastically striking and contrary. If my only experience ever with both Christianity and Islam had been these two men, you know which way my support would have gone. The way information was presented was way different, and even though I understand the message the Christian man wanted to convey to my wife, in a public forum with lots of other people around and one chance to make a good impression, he uttered a statement that could have been taken as a threat, but was definitely taken as one of strange intolerance for someone else’s position, all from deciding she didn’t want a flyer.

Lately here I’ve been talking about influence and social media marketing, but in the past on my other blog I’ve talked about consequences and perception. Giving people a reason to dislike you more because you said something wrong rather than stating an opinion someone else may or may not like is almost never worth it if you really care about getting business, making friends, etc. I’ve talked a lot about how social media can be your friend, but sometimes it can also hurt your online and offline business if your timing is bad and your words not quite correct. Of course, as I’ve always said, if you’re ready to deal with the consequences you can say anything you want.

Of course, I have no religion or faith, so I’m not going to be changing to anything any time soon. Still, if I were at Hogwarts I’d probably have given 50 points to some house and taken 50 points away from another. I wonder who ended up scoring better on the day once my wife and I left last Saturday.

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic






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