Opinion

Chris Blythe: Psst — the gossip wall's gone online

9 June 2011

The past few weeks have really emphasised the impact of social networks as a communication tool — for better or worse.

The recent frustration of the so-called super injunctions by an anonymous Twitter member has meant that the people the super injunctions were meant to protect have seen their names bandied around the internet while the newspapers have been silenced.

The bad side of this was the incorrect assertion that someone had a super injunction in place when they had not. Unfair for sure, but in many respects social media is just like the wall in the street, where all the local tittle-tattle ended up.

What’s different, of course, is that you don’t have to pass a particular street corner to see the latest local news. You can be anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The definition of local has changed too. Gone is the notion of immediate vicinity — today you can be in as many localities as you want, all without having to leave the house or office.

The amount people are prepared to reveal about themselves on the internet is staggering. Take LinkedIn, for example. The more conservative might put up some basic details like name and some interests. Others put up their whole biography, including a CV for the world to see.

Of course, the more information you make freely available the greater the chances of someone passing themselves off as you or at least using your credentials for themselves. As an employer, is the CV you have been sent real? Does it belong to the person who sent it?

Social networking is not new, but technology has broadened its reach beyond comprehension and created street corners throughout cyberspace. There are risks, but on the positive side it allows people and ideas to travel. More people are participating with the CIOB on LinkedIn and Facebook than they are in traditional ways. So the tide has already turned and we have to address it.

As such, the PR powers that be at the CIOB have decided that I should be on Twitter. In a month I have amassed 53 followers, including someone claiming to be from Rancho Cordoba in California whose profile picture is a bunny girl and who seems to want to know about the CIOB.

My Twitter tag is @CEOCIOB — join me as I struggle to avoid being banal in 140 characters.

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