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Business Buzz: Think before you share online

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PHUKET: This month we are going to cover a range of things that have been topical recently, and a timely reminder of what is important locally.

I am going to show my age as a Generation Xer. Growing up, compared to now, things are a little bit different.

Whenever we had to do a study assignment, we used to go to a library. Yes, a real building that housed credible resources such as the Encyclopedia Britannica and Work Book encyclopedias, where we gathered our research and prepared factual research papers.

News groups used to be responsible and reputable organizations. They would fact check sources and content.

Now though, with the advent of the Internet, anyone with a keyboard can put any content they want on the internet, no matter how far fetched, biased, fictional or slanderous. And there are so many so-called ‘media outlets’ that have popped up overnight which often push a certain cause or target a specific issue on which they might like to lavish their opinion. Two things come from this.

First, we have a corporate and social responsibility to be appropriate with the posting of our content. I use the ‘Grandmother Rule’. Would it be something I would be happy for my grandmother to read, God bless her soul. If it doesn’t pass the test, it won’t get posted. Also it should be factually correct.

However, too many people are using the internet to post propaganda, run scams, just post completely incorrect material and even commit crimes – ranging from simple defamation to elaborate computer crimes. It then gets spread very quickly by others, often unaware of what they are doing.

Also, as we are based in Thailand and covered by the laws of the Kingdom, people need to be very aware of the Computer Crimes Act, defamation laws, and also section 112 of the Criminal Code. These laws cover computer crimes and have far reaching consequences that we should all be aware of when posting content.

The second thing we need to understand is that our actions in viewing material have consequences. So sharing or liking a post or comment not only influences our contacts into thinking that it may be legitimate, but it can also have serious legal implications. This has been seen recently in some high profile media cases.

Too many times I see people sharing content that is questionable and claiming it to be credible or even factual. Another common one is people sharing content for which they believe they will be rewarded with cars, free plane tickets and so on, and it seems common sense is abandoned.

Another current example is all of the political commentary, videos and ‘facts’ that are being posted around the US elections.

This is a clear example of how unverified content and opinions posted as fact, and then shared out by sympathetic and unsuspecting believers, actually becomes ‘fact’ to many by default.

So my advice, especially for business owners, is to post responsibly and think about what image you might wish to be seen as, and remembered for. Think carefully about what you are commenting on and sharing out to others.

Most of all, remember your actions have consequences.

Simon Wetherell is a Social Media expert, trainer and lawyer. He now resides in Phuket where he trains businesses and individuals on how to profit from the Social Media industry. For more information go to PhuketOnlineMarketing.com or call on 095-085 3355.

— Simon Wetherell

 

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