Careful what you say!
Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t see you
Article: Farron Ager – Contributor
Perhaps this is naïve to say, but I am still surprised that people think they can get away with saying hateful commentary in a forum as public as the Internet without any repercussions. Try typing the word ‘slur’ into Google News and see what results you get. On the first page alone, I got no less than three separate stories about athletes apologizing for a racial slur they said. I can’t even say that these sorts of things don’t even hit close to home. We saw what happened to Huskies coach Dave Adolph after one of his emails contained a homophobic slur.
It was one particular comment that I read that makes me want to write about the concept of digital presence and how it relates back to you, the person in the flesh. Contrary to belief, these two versions of you aren’t mutually exclusive and what you can say can be traced back to you.
So you just got yourself an Internet. Perhaps you’ve already given your vitals to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. Then, for one reason or another, you feel the urge to say something hateful to someone, complete with slurs of one nature or another, but you don’t want to be caught. So you’re going to lie; maybe you’ve created a false username if you’re clever enough. It’s the Internet after all, who’s going to find out?
Well, I found out.
Without naming names, I decided to test out how well I could find information about someone who felt the need to include hateful and intolerant commentary on a news website. Going from the profile picture of the account, a quick Google reverse image search lead me to their Twitter account, which then lead me to their Facebook account (because they shared the same terrible pseudonym), completely unblocked with pictures and status updates I might add. Now knowing the hatemonger’s real name, another Google search lead me to coincidently find out that this person is actually a student here at the university, subsequently telling me the year they are into their program and what particular degree this student was pursuing.
The fact of the matter is that what you say online is far from private. Any reasonable person can make these connections and get this information, including family members, bosses, and potential employers. I’m not even CSIS or CSEC personnel and it was that easy to track someone’s identity.
If you want to hold onto hateful ideas, that’s your prerogative. But the moment you post that online, it’s no longer only your business. Now is the time to start sharpening your knives and Google searching yourself.