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Writing & Social Media

“Blogito ergo sum”

Or “I blog therefore I am”. My blog started as a result of BT and Phorm’s secret and illegal mass interceptions of users’ internet traffic for advertising purposes.  It wasnt long before Phorm’s PR people tried to get me to become a mouthpiece for their operation – an invitation I rejected – advising them to prove the legality of their actions.  CEO Kent Ertugrul left Phorm in July 2015 without ever providing me with that proof.

Since then I’ve become something of a privacy activist, believing in due process and transparency.  Phorm’s attempts to brand those of us who saw them for what they were as tinfoil hat wearing pirates failed, and it was no thanks to Gordon Brown’s “government” (who did nothing) that Phorm slunk away from the UK to try its luck in countries where privacy is much less regarded.

As a disabled person, I sometimes write about issues facing the disabled on public transport.  I am luckier than many I know in that I can get around reasonably well with the aid of my walking cane.  If I have issues getting around on public transport (and I do) then how must it be for those in wheelchairs?  Despite what some may claim, the Paralympics did very little to change the perceptions of disabled people by the able bodied.

I also write and comment on business and customer service issues. I’ve helped improve customer service for companies through simple, honest suggestions.  Where others have chosen to ignore me I have often been proved right.  Good service keeps things simple, lets the customer know what’s going on and what they can expect next.  Then they deliver on that promise.

I write about government, politics, the law and internet.  If government and the judiciary were remotely competent to deal with technical issues I and others wouldn’t need to. But the #TwitterJokeTrial and David Cameron’s decision to impose website blocking show that the judiciary and government are ignorant and should not be acting without sensible advice in these areas.  Keir Starmer received a backside kicking from the Royal Courts Of Justice (comment from me below the article) over #TwitterJokeTrial and had the decency to open up a public consultation exercise.  But as we’ve seen from David Cameron, consultations can be easily ignored by those in power.

In a meeting at the House Of Commons, David Davis MP declared that “the Executive (i.e. Parliament) hasn’t got a clue what is going on” in regard to technology issues.  This may continue to be the case for many years unless people working in these areas rather than civil servants educate MPs.

The Impact Of Social Media

Thanks to social media, bad news travels much faster than good news.  Poor performance and unethical conduct is highlighted and more people become aware of it than they would have ten years ago.  This has given rise to weasel words like “misspoke” where someone who should have known better made an “off-message” comment which was picked up and went viral.  “Misspoke” is a lie.  The words were said and there was intent behind them.

We also now have apologies which have no apologetic content at all, hiding behind claims of “misunderstanding”.  Instagram’s recent backtracking from using user submitted photos for advertising purposes is an example of this.  Social media highlighted unethical Ts & Cs from Instagram – they suffered brand damage and lost customers.  Instagram then claimed they never intended to use user submitted photos for advertising purposes.  Why were those terms included then?  The brand damage Instagram suffered could have been avoided simply by behaving ethically.

Social media is now a crucial part of public relations, but one where a failure to answer the question or issue may well be highlighted and brutally taken to task. It is disappointing to see companies giving social media responsibilities to interns, junior staff or people with no real understanding of social media and how it can affect a company’s reputation. Take Kenwyn Williams, formerly of USACA as an excellent example of how not to do Social Media.

The message is simple: Speak to and employ people with the right experience, people who understand how internet and social media use can be integrated into the business.  People like me.  Trying to do any internet presence or communications provision on the cheap could be disastrous for your company’s reputation.

One bad tweet, comment or e-mail can go viral in a matter of minutes.  And will be recorded forever somewhere on the internet.