For many of us, posting comments or pictures on the internet does not even merit a second thought. We do it instinctively – almost as part of our every day routine. But what we don’t often realise is that every word or a picture posted online stays there forever. It can be regurgitated a simple Google search and can cost you a part of your present life.
“A young woman who going to be engaged asked me remove a comment she had left on an old post,” shared educationist and blogger Nabiha Meher Shaikh, while speaking at session ‘Haunted: What you post online never goes away.’ “She feared that her to-be in laws will google her and find out about the comment.”
Jehan Ara, the head of P@sha (Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES), agreed. “Women and children were at risk,” she said. “Sometimes a post put up in the past can be held against you at a later stage in life.”
She also pointed out that some Pakistani companies did monitor the online activities of their employees. “But the companies should tell their employees about it beforehand.”
Imtiaz Noor, a researcher who scrutinises words and numbers for a living, said that the matter was even more riskier for politicians where rivals leave no stone unturned to wash their opponent’s dirty laundry in public. What he found surprising was that companies were willing to forego personal opinions but were more interested in past criminal records.
Someone from the audience shared that when a colleague left the company he wished her good luck on twitter. This sat ill with the human resource department. “They called me in, showed me the tweet and said that my colleague had chosen to leave the company and asked me to delete the tweet.”
The story had its intended effect and caught the 40-something audience by surprise. Noor commented, “It was a sign of progress that an HR department in Pakistan was on twitter.”
Journalist Imran Shirvanee talked about how people spread rumours online. He gave the example of the recently leaked list of 19 prominent journalists and the bribes they had taken from a business tycoon, Malik Riaz.
Although everyone, especially blogger Dr Awab Alvi, lamented that the anonymity provided by the internet encouraged ‘trolling’ – abusing fellow social media users from anonymous accounts had become extremely common, but some also advocated the advantages of the blanket of anonymity. Shaikh admitted that she herself used to write blogs anonymously till she started to believe otherwise. However she said that the world is not sympathetic to those who write about sensitive topics under their real name.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.
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