Just before Christmas I ran into an article on Profy.com about FriendFeed being blocked by companies.

Not interesting in itself as we see this sort of thing all the time but what was interesting was the conversation that continues in the comments.  As it appeared the person that wrote about someone complaining FF had been blocked at work didn’t do enough research and got some timings wrong about the way the person mentioned got round it. Again not big news, people get it wrong all the time.

What I found interesting was that the person who was being blocked from FF at work and was now using an iPhone to get round it was upset (and so were her friends) that they had been used as the example in the article without her permission. These are comments on FriendFeed. Err hang on, all this is in the public domain anyway.  Who needs permission?  No one.

protect the identity of the subject so as to not humiliate her any further.” said Susan in one of the comments. One of the points being that her employer may be able to id her.  Her employer could be searching on FF themselves. Infact anyone can see what was already written.  The fact that the iPhone had been purchased before the block makes no difference. The fact is that they are getting round the block and in my book, well done. Company, wake up.

Now getting the facts wrong is one thing – indefensible.  But using the words that are you freely available on the net a crime?  I think not.

I’m not an addict

The author made a remark in the article that the user seemed to be an addict;
“And since Yolanda seems to be heavily addicted to FriendFeed..”

This to me is fair comment.  “seems to be” is different from “is” but when you put it into the context that many Friendfeed users make jokes about themselves being addicted to the application it makes more sense that the word addicted was selected.

Addicts are always the last to know though :o)

Where did it go wrong?

Well for one a company blocking any website is on a hiding to nothing as iPhones and other mobile devices enter the workplace.  Companies, you are wasting your time trying to stop people using them.  You could get free access to Facebook on Orange – if you can get reception that is.

Second, embrace the technology and help educate your employees how to protect themselves. Come up with a set of social computing guidelines, tell them about the required etiquette and the common pitfalls. Gen Y (bless them) may be using this stuff all the time and not thinking about it.  You have a problem – because they don’t think about it they can write anything.  Older generations are a little more weary of technology and so think about what they publish.

In the end those employees go home are still representing you even when they aren’t working for you. Turn their past time into an asset – not a liability.

Take an example at the most simple level – re-tweet on Twitter.  You write something and then they re-publish it so all their followers can read it too. So, people need guidance.

Thirdly, to expect that writers never make mistakes or may be put an angle on things is to be incredibly naive. Humans make mistakes and so try to be responsible for you own and not blame others for your mistakes. That doesn’t mean that writers shouldn’t check facts as much as possible.

Comments gonna work it out

So in the end the comments actually worked things out.  Nowadays we get to make our voice heard either within the articles or on other platforms – online writers have nowhere to hide. Gracefully, the author apologized and the people in the article got to have their say.

Whatever you blog/twitter/comment may be taken down in evidence and re-published without your permission