Those who know me know that I am passionate about cybersafety, especially cyberbullying. I have gone all over the state of South Carolina discussing the topic to various groups of people. Usually the focus is on educating children on how to use the Internet and it's tools properly. With adults, it is protecting your identity and becareful of what gets posted about themselves. Never would I think I would have to have to children discussion with adults, especially administrators who should know better. WRONG! I guess I have to give the whole talk to all audiences. Administrators needs to start paying attention to what they are doing and get educated. One of your numbers may be going to jail!
What happened in Pennsylvania's the Lower Marion School District should be a wake-up call to those who pay lip-service to cybersafety. The fact this case even happened was downright frightening on several levels. First, why would someone create a security software that would activate a webcam remotely? Second, why would a school district place itself in potential harm by purchasing such software? Third, when instruction was given to administrators did anyone think to explain when the webcam should be activated and when it should not? Fourth, what was the vice-principal thinking when he or she operated the webcam? Fifth, what was the vice-principal thinking when attempting to discipline a student at home? Conspiracy theorists such as Adam Curry of No Agenda are probably going crazy talking about "big brother" spying on everybody.
The whole thing in Pennsylvania probably boils down to an over-zealous administrator doing what he or she thought was the right thing out of ignorance of the consequences. Not an excuse but probable. However, there was a public incident of cyberbullying by a group of people who should have known better. On Episode 238 (March 7, 2010) of the popular podcast, This Week in Tech (TWiT), host Leo Laporte and guests John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine and Meveo fame, Kevin Rose of Digg, and Clayton Morris of Fox and Friends decided to replicate a stunt done by Connan O'Brien and get the audience to follow a randomly chosen person on Twitter. Kevin Rose did a search and found someone based on the search of the term "hates technology." They settled on a New Zealand woman who tweeted "I hate technology." By the end of the show over 4,000 people where following her and the current count is over 24,000 followers. Laporte kept asking if what they were doing was illegal or unethical. Dvorak thought it was at least unethical but did nothing to stop it. Kevin Rose was cheering people on and Clayton Morris did nothing. Fortunately, the victim has a great sense of humor and is trying to cash in on this fifteen minutes of fame. Laporte promised to buy her a iPad for her troubles but also promised the same to a randomly chosen new follower to get the number up.
Can you imagine the shock and horror someone might have to open their e-mail and discover over 4,000 notices of new Twitter followers? All of these people who are strangers and you have no idea why they are filling up your e-mail box? Then you find out it is by a group of people who were doing it as a stunt on a podcast. All four should know better. There are many teenagers who follow TWiT every week and look up to the host and guests as role models. Clayton Morris should never be assigned any story involving incidents such as Web Cam Spying story or a cyberbullying incident resulting in a tragic death. I will still listen to TWiT but I have to say I am very disappointed in the actions of these leaders in the Tech World.