Thinking yourself into a corner

9 09 2012

Yesterday, the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s father died. Although he had battled ill health, it was an unexpected death. The majority of her political opponents, the media, and social media pundits offered her their condolences, and newspaper articles eulogised on his role in bringing up and educating Australia’s first female Prime Minister. Whether you agree with his daughter’s politics or not, he did a good job bringing up his daughter to contribute to public life and achieve on her own terms.

But some social media pundits couldn’t help themselves. They made snarky comments about her, her father and various other personal issues. Speculation ranged from how he felt about her politics to whether the tax payer would pay for his funeral. It was almost like they thought she had arranged this personal tragedy for her own political gain.

Now I can’t help wondering – are these people like this in real life? Or, in real life, are they normal compassionate people who, despite differences of opinion, recognise that a personal tragedy is common to us all, a precondition of being human. People you and I would be happy to know.

There has been a lot of conversation in Australian media and social media about trolls – people who (usually anonymously) frequent social media sites for the purpose of vicious personal attacks. An anti-bullying ambassador, Charlotte Dawson, was hospitalised after vicious attacks on twitter (#diecharlotte) became too much for her.

Who are these people? Why do think they have a right to attack others?

At the same time, US news reported on a 16 year old who called for the assassination of her president, Barack Obama, via twitter. Where does this hatred come from? Why do people think this semi-anonymous (although in the case of the above 16 year old, her twitter handle was in her own name) forum is OK for vitriolic hatred, calls for violence and personal attacks, the sort of behaviour that most of us would not engage in, in real life?

There is a psychological concept called cognitive dissonance. Most of us like not to feel hypocritical. We like to feel we are logical, our thoughts, taken individually or en masse, make sense. We don’t want to seem to contradict ourselves.

So maybe these people have thought themselves into a corner, whereby their unrelenting hatred and attacks in a political context cannot be stopped, even for personal tragedy or common decency. They have objectified the focus of their obsession and no longer see them as sharing the common human experience that unites us. They cannot back down or rethink their position, no matter what.

This is not logic. This is irrational. This is hatred.

There is a level of intellectual sophistication involved in being able to deal with, to hold, two cognitively dissonant thoughts at the same time. Say, hatred for someone’s politics and compassion for them as a person not feeling compatible in one psyche. This sort of sophistication and maturity might not be expected from a 16year old (although her parents should cut off her social media accounts until she understands the concepts of treason and inciting violence as criminal offences) but it would seem the majority of trolls are not under-age.

But just like the metaphorical “paint yourself into a corner”, some people think themselves into small confined positions, from whence they are unable to be flexible and respond to changing conditions. But wouldn’t you rather react and change according to changing conditions (evolution having shown us the options are adaptor die) than make ourself into a public fool and be publicly castigated for your rigidly inflexible position? Let alone possibly do actual harm to another, as occurred with Charlotte Dawson.

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A year in blog-land

7 07 2012

I started blogging approximately a year ago.

I had been intending to blog for some time, and had even started a couple of times on various topics, then abandoned them when I decided that the topics were too self-indulgent and really of no value or interest to anyone other than myself. And even my interest was fleeting.

The decision about topics was problematic for me – I wasn’t intending for it to be a work related blog, it wasn’t to establish my credibility or expertise in a field. But the types of things I was interested in were many and varied and really didn’t hang together very well, except in that they interested me.

Analysis Paralysis.

The answer was: write about what interests you. Once I decided I had permission for this to be about interesting things rather than being constrained by a specific topic, I was off and running – or writing. In the end it doesn’t seem to have mattered that I have several different topics going. Some weeks I blog every day and sometimes have several new posts in a day. Other weeks I can barely get one post up. And occasionally one topic – for instance the leap second – inspires three posts. (Did you sleep well? , Nostradamus and Y2K and Why the moon rules your life)

As well as what I have posted (this is my 301st post), I have about 70 drafts sitting behind the scenes. Some are posts that I started and haven’t finished because the story petered out. Others are where I just made a quick note about a topic for those days we the topics seem hard to come by.

I am loving the stats page, and particularly the maps. I initially thought I was probably writing for my friends (and thank you for visiting, liking and commenting!) But it turns out that people visit from all over the world, even some small islands I didn’t know were separate countries. It’s really quite interesting to ponder what might interest someone in Belize, Venezuela, Jordan, Iceland, or the Russian Republic, and how someone from Trinidad and Tobago, Malta, Qatar, and El Salvador might have ended up reading an Australian blog. Truly international, and always fascinating to see who has been here.

The topics vary quite widely, but I don’t seem to be able to predict what will attract a broad readership. I loved being able to go through my holiday photos and record and relive some of the places we went and the things we saw. I also love pondering news events and recent studies that I have come across, and the occasional joke or cartoon. Social media, psychology, science (particularly weird science or pseudo-science) usually capture my attention and interest long enough for a post to evolve.

Sharing on StumbleUpon has been a surprising and unpredictable event. A posting on Steve Jobs garnered 9,822 viewings, thanks in large part to StumbleUpon. The general page comes second with 7,958, followed distantly by How to Open a Padlocked Suitcase: A lesson in travel safety for us all with 804, and Imagine what you could do if you thought you couldn’t fail at 597 (this posting was on Moira Kelly, the woman who sponsored Krishna and Trishna, conjoined twins from Bangladesh).

I also post links on Facebook (mudmap) and Twitter (mudmapped) and occasionally on Pinterest, although I have not had much success there. But StumbleUpon has driven the occasional peaks in my stats – a top score of 4,837 views on one day that seems almost impossible to beat and quite bizarre to contemplate. I don’t know how it happened and I can’t replicate it, but it is amusing and rewarding to think that something I wrote “touched a chord” and nearly went viral! (This was some considerable time after the death of Steve Jobs so I didn’t really expect a massive reaction.)

In one year Mudmap has had just under 28,500 viewings (and increasing as we speak). This is a lot more than I probably could have expected if I had written a book – unless I wrote the Da Vinci Code or Fifty Shades of Grey. I know that some of you are repeat readers. Some of you are my friends, family and acquaintances, others are people I will never meet. Some are fellow-bloggers who stop by and encourage, chat and exchange ideas. Thanks you, everyone!

As a frustrated writer, it is gratifying to be able to write something that someone else will read. And on a good day, you might click “like”. And sometimes you might comment. I appreciate each and every one of these.

Here’s to the next year! (Please drop me a line….)





Surplus social media

24 03 2012

As an intrepid explorer of social media, I find I am increasingly coming across a number of new social media options. And quite frankly, I’m not sure of their value and I’m not sure if I physically have the time to deal with them. So let me know your opinion.

I’ll start by declaring my social media preferences: I am addicted to Facebook, I love LinkedIn, I am quite active on Twitter (but largely promoting my blogs – true confession). I am somewhat present in Pinterest and Foursquare (although frankly Pinterest’s “ownership” of content makes nervous). I dip into Youtube from time to time but generally I don’t actually have the time to sit through a 3 minute video. True story. And I am obsessed with blogging. If you can count it, it is a competition. Sad but true.

1. Klout. I confess I lost faith in Klout when it nominated me as an expert on London. Why? I have no idea since I have not knowingly written anything about London online (it is too long since I have been there) and only a couple of my English friends live in London. How did Klout decide this was my area of expertise (as opposed to, for instance, the country I live in)?

2. Branchedout. This Facebook app bills itself as the network boasting the most job connections on Facebook. Hmm. Possibly because there isn’t any competition.

3. Aboutme. Point? Niche? I just don’t get it.

4. Peerindex. Seems like a copycat Klout.

Fundamentally these all don’t seem to add any value to my life, they take time and they request and collate my personal and online information into yet another source that I need to manage. Maybe I’d be better off being streamlined – sleek and aerodynamic and dump all the excess baggage.

Of course I could just be grumpy.

Thoughts?





Why do Big Brands keep failing on Twitter?

10 03 2012

Another major corporation has come a-cropper in Twitter-land. Given the recent examples of major campaign stuff-ups, and an assumption that these corporations are buying in advice on their social media campaigns, it is hard to understand how these things keep happening.

The latest incident involves supermarket giant Coles. At 7.55PM on 6 March, they invited twitter-readers to:

Now leaving aside all the very first-world consumerist implications of this sentence to start with, it would seem that a major corporation asking people to finish sentences about their brand in public is asking for trouble. At 8.48PM they followed up with:

(The attached responses below the tweets demonstrates some of the erudite negative comments they received)

To give them credit – they monitored the responses and acted quickly (tick). This hasn’t stopped the issue but it has probably lessened it. And secondly, in response to an on-twitter accusation that they had deleted the critical tweets:

Big tick for not trying to cover up their mistake.

Unfortunately these companies seem to be surprised by negative responses. While some of the responses played along and gave positive responses, many others responded disparagingly, with comments including references to the supermarket duopoly that exists in Australia and the effect it has on prices for consumers and the prices paid to farmers.

So this set me wondering why these issues keep happening. What is it about social media, and Twitter in particular, that these campaigns fail. Here are my thoughts.

1. In old marketing campaigns, the brands told us what to think. The message was one-way, and they could say pretty much whatever they liked within the bounds of the Advertising Code of Conduct and the law. These campaigns are very much two-way communication and “open response”. This is not a television campaign. However the message has not neccessarily been adjusted (exhibit one, #QantasLuxury campaign)

2. Some of what is happening is almost market research – only market research conducted in public. If you were researching an advertising campaign you might ask these sorts of questions. But you would not be giving the research participants an unfettered voice and a microphone, the way that social media does.

3. Do they know their audience? These campaigns seem to assume that they are talking to their “fans” when in fact they are talking to potentially everyone, including their harshest critics. I wonder if the brands had an ideal response in mind when they wrote the campaign and that blinded them to the possible negative responses.

4. Brands seem to underestimate how polarised opinion can be. Tweeter “Brand Meets Blog” rightly pointed out that if an individual had tweeted this question, the response might have been quite different.

5. The style of campaign exhibited in the Coles “it’s a crime” campaign and the #qantasluxury saga are more like old competitions. “In twenty-five words or less tell us why you should win”. However Coles did not offer a prize so there was n inctentive to write nice things, and Qantas offered such a pathetic prize (particualrly in light of their recent industrial debacle) that again there was little incentive to write nice things. I am guessing when they ran these sorts of competitions off-line they probably still got some negative responses, but fewer because these were people who cared enough to pay for a stamp to air their negative reaction. On social media it is so much easier, cheaper, and negative responders get an audience which can rapidly build momentum for you witty / negative comments.

6. Maybe Twitter isn’t the place for your broadcast marketing campaigns. A quick look at the rest of the Coles Twitter feed shows a brand that is engaging with both positive and negative feedback on an individual basis. It is actually quite exemplary in the way it deals with complaints, responds to positive feedback, cross-references to its other feeds (such as @ColesRecipes) and generally chats with tweeps. Complaints about in-store music are dealt with respectfully and humourously, complaints about stores, products and service are followed up both online (so we can all see they care about the issues) and referred to their other complaints handling mechanisms for more detail. One wonders why they stuffed up this functioning communication channel with a silly campaign.

Do you know of any really good Twitter campaigns? How did they compare, what were the factors that kept them on-track and made them work?


Want more social media stories?
Managing social media complaints before they explode into Tweets, YouTube videos and Facebook shares
The saga of #qantasluxury





The “It must be Friday” Social Media round-up

24 02 2012

A few interesting articles crossing my desk this morning. It must not be a full moon because the loony stories aren’t out there, but here are a few interesting tidbits to whet your appetite….

1. Following on from recent postings about tracking down fugitives via social media, and the impact of social media on the jury-system, comes a new one: the serving of legal papers via social media. Normally papers are served in person, in hard copy or faxed (thereby setting a precedent for electronic forms of transmittal, I presume). The story is that when lawyers had difficulty tracking and confirming a residential address and email address for someone they wanted to serve with a subpoena, UK High Court judge Nigel Teare authorised serving via the individual’s active social media page on Facebook. Apparently while this is a first for Facebook in the UK, it is not a total-first. Previous papers have been served via Twitter in 2009 (UK) and Facebook (Australia and Canada), and via text message to the Occupy London protesters in December 2011. Another reason to keep your social media account privacy settings high? And of course, if you name is John Smith or Jane Smith, there may be issues regarding identification.

2. So moving from one profession to another: do you want your surgeon tweeting during your open heart surgery? Personally I’d prefer s/he concentrate on one thing at a time – this is not the time for multi-tasking! On February 21, 2012, Cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, Dr. Michael P. Macris, performed the first live twittercast of a double-bypass open heart surgery in the United States.

Now I admit, reading the Twitter feed, it does appear that it was not the surgeon who actually did the tweeting, since he is referred to in the third person, and the information, although necessarily brief, is interesting, and is accompanied by a fairly graphic slideshow with embedded video.

So – novelty value or a new effective form of education?

3. Anyone who has any exposure to social media knows that *some* people post pretty inappropriate things. But what if you got sued – and got fined and home detention for it? A Spanish woman has been fined 1000 Euros and had 8 days house arrest for posting a photograph of a novelty t-shirt on her Facebook site. The offending caption? “Mi exmarido es Gilipollas” which roughly translates as “My ex-husband is an asshole”. The ex-husband in question sued for the damage to his reputation, and the Provincial Court found in his favour.

And now the case has had international attention, and we all know what sort of person he is (the sort of person who sues over a t-shirt). And his ex-wife has hopefully learned to keep her privacy settings high, be careful who she “friends” on Facebook, and be careful what she posts. I doubt it has changed her opinion of him! And everyone else who bought this sort of commercially-available t-shirt as a joke…….be careful!

4. OK, this may not really be social media, but its bizarre, so I include it here to entertain and encourage you to keep reading. It would seem that Fox Business News has awoken to the evil cultural cancer that is Dr Suess. With Hollywood set to film the Lorax, Fox News is alerting the “right-thinking” world (wording deliberate) to the evil plot being perpetrated by Dr Suess and the left-wing Hollywood types to destroy your children’s brains! (For those of you who can’t remember the story of the Lorax, he is pro-trees and anti-logging). And while we’re at it, how coincidental is it that The Muppets resurface during the US pre-pre-election campaign, featuring an evil oil baron? Those naughty Hollywood commies.

So for those of you who need a decoding manual to understand the true “horror” of the Dr Suess conspiracy, the following image is presented for your education:

image from George Takei's Facebook page

(As an interesting aside, I have been told that The Lorax was in fact banned in some states of the US at one stage. I’d be keen to heard more information on this, if you have any.)

5. This one is in the category of “public information warning”. Scam artists and other criminals are increasingly using social media as ways of targeting victims – and dating sites are apparently rich pickings because of the personal information people are willing to share and because, by definition, people on the dating sites are open to making relationships with people they have not previously met. The full article is here, but basically it suggests that the owners / proprietors of sites need to be vigilant against scam, spam and other misuse, install security measures, and harness your members to continually monitor and feed back suspicious activity. And remember, the criminals are constantly working at ways to get around any security measure, so security has to be a constant work-in-progress.

6. World of Warcraft may have a new target market. It seems this game can increase your cognitive abilities in a fairly short period of time. A study by Dr. Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University used World of Warcraft required participants aged between 60 and 77 to play WoW 14 hours over two weeks. Compared with baseline data and a control group, participants demonstrated improved cognitive abilities in the areas of spatial ability and focus, but not in memory. WoW was chosen as the representative game because it was considered to be “a cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations.” The paper will be published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour. No news on whether playing 24/7 has an effect on your cognitive processing – although it certainly can have an effect on your social life, sleep, and potentially hygiene and nutrition.

7. A new study shows that parents rarely know the extent of cyber-bullying because it often happens in private chat rooms, on messaging and via mobile phone. Even if you are your child’s Facebook friend, you won’t necessarily see any of it. And children don’t tell their parents, and parents often don’t know to ask. Unless you have your child’s passwords and can log in and check the messaging, you are unlikely to know what is really going on. Scary.

8. Continuing the phishing pun (and I do love a pun), there is now another more targeted and dangerous threat to be concerned about – spear phishing. This is similar to the phishing emails that try to get you to click on links or provide confidential information such as banking details or computer passwords, but these are targeted at companies. And they are tailored to be more likely to hook someone – any employee – in. Large companies such as Google and RSA have reportedly lost intellectual property in the last year due to effective spear phishing campaigns that started with one employee falling for it. And it only takes one.

9. Tumblr has changed its content policies to address the growing issue of “thinspiration”, self-harm and mutilation blogs on its site. The company has put out the following guidelines in its policy:

Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders. Online dialogue about these acts and conditions is incredibly important; this prohibition is intended to reach only those blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification. For example, joking that you need to starve yourself after Thanksgiving or that you wanted to kill yourself after a humiliating date is fine, but recommending techniques for self-starvation or self-mutilation is not.

Of course,the devil is in the detail, and it is not clear how they will be able to police this, but this does at least give them a framework for removal of any offending content, should they come to its attention. Tumblr states that it will give the blog owner a grace period to remove offending content, then shut down the blog if it is not removed. It will also display public health announcements next to any search terms referring to these types of activities.

Hurrah for Tumblr!

Like more bizarre Social Media tidbits?
And today’s bizarre social media news……
and more from the bizarre worlds of marketing and espionage…
And live, from the sequestered jury…..





And live, from the sequestered jury…..

19 02 2012

The Scales of Justice above The Old Bailey, London photo credit Colin Smith

You may have seen a recent article about a jury member, Jacob Jock, who sent a friend request to a defendant on an auto negligence trial he was enpanelled on. He claimed that he accidentally hit the “friend request” instead of the “mutual friends” button when doing a search on the defendant in response to the request for a declaration of whether the jurors knew anyone associated with the trial. OK, maybe plausible – stupid but maybe. He then failed to bring the “accident” to the attention of the court (later saying he hoped the defendant would forget about it) and instead waited until the defendant brought it to the attention of her lawyer.

Initially he was just dismissed from the jury – until he then posted :

“Score … I got dismissed!! apparently they frown upon sending a friend request to the defendant … haha.”

Hmmm. Clearly not the sharpest tool in the toolbox.

But there are others. IN the UK, a juror, Joanne Fraill, was jailed for 8 months for chatting about the trial on Facebook with the defendant in a drugs trial. (The defendant also got 2 months for contempt.) In her own trial Fraill claimed she contacted the defendant because she empathised with his life – however her message

…pleeeeeese don’t say anything cause jamie they could all miss trial and I will get 4cked to0” (sic)

seems to indicate that she knew she was doing the wrong thing and was jeopardising the entire trial. The defendants’ co-defendant Gary Knox is apparently now appealing his guilty verdict on the same grounds (juror misconduct).

Not only is it illegal to contact defendants and other participants in a trial before or during a trial, it is also illegal to conduct your own research. A difficult task in these days of the ubiquitous Google. However, University lecturer Theodora Dallas discovered this to her detriment. She is now spending 6 months in prison for contempt of court for not only conducting her own online research, but also sharing it with other jurors. She claimed that because it was on the internet it was “public knowledge”. Of course a university lecturer in particular should know that what is on the internet is not necessarily (shock, horror) unbiased fact. Present blog excepted of course. And also that jurors shouldn’t be conducting their own research.

In Detroit,. a 20-year-old woman, Hadley Jons, posted her guilty verdict prior to the jury entering deliberations “Gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re guilty.” Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20015175-71.html#ixzz1mmayXNKC . Prior to the prosecution completing their presentation of the case, in fact. An interesting definition of the word “fun” is in operation here. Now she is waiting to find out if she will be found guilt of contempt of court. In this case the defense lawyer’s son happened upon the message when he was – yes, you guessed it – online researching the jurors. (And as an aside, if she had set her Facebook settings higher she might have got away with it.)

And although I can’t find the original information on this one, it is so amazing, I include it here with a link to the article. In 2008 in the UK a juror in a sexual misconduct trial was unsure of what her decision was so she held a FACEBOOK POLL. Unbelievable!

Technology is increasingly impacting on legal trials, and it would seem, the jurors are often the weakest link. You may be familiar with the impact that crime shows have had upon the legal system (the so-called CSI effect) – criminals have learned how to hide the evidence, and jurors expect water-tight cases to be put before them, complete with DNA. Now it is social media’s turn.

In November 2011 the US Federal Judicial System published a report into the use of social media by jurors during trials and deliberations. Thirty judges answered a questionnaire about their experiences, with 9 of them responding that they had had issues with jurors using social media during trials. Unfortunately, no juicy or bizarre stories included in this report, but some interesting tables:

And keep in mind this was a small sample size and related only to those that the judges had become aware of. An anonymous questionnaire for jurors may have rendered different results.  (It would also be nice to know what was in “other”.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if it is illegal off-line, then it’s illegal online. Lawyers who discover juror social media misconduct are bound to report it, and it would seem from earlier cases that defendants and other jurors have also reported breaches. And the lawyers are probably online researching potential jurors for jury selection. Posted any comments on recent newsworthy events? “Liked” any groups lately? Reposted any dubious jokes or sayings? All this information may indicate to the lawyers what sort of person you are, what your prejudices or opinions are and how receptive you may be to the defendant. And if you have made comments on the case, that will probably come to light as well.

A 2010 article by Reuters Legal stated that 90 trial verdicts had been challenged in the US due to social media influence since 1999. Not a massive number, but then Facebook only existed since 2004 and Twitter came into being in 2006. So you will be unsurprised to know that the rate of juror social media transgression is escalating exponentially: more than half of the cases found by Reuters occurred between 2008 and 2010. It’s a growing trend – or perhaps just trending. In 28 cases the challenges resulted in new trials or overturned verdicts. And of course the untold millions of dollars in additional court costs.

The (US) Committee on Court Administration and Case Management has distributed model instructions for judges to use in instructing the jury on the use of social media. The instructions from the trial judge in the Conrad Murray case for the death of Michael Jackson are here. However short of sequestering jurors for the entire trial, removing or jamming all of their electronic devices, it would seem that this is a problem that is here to stay. Apparently common sense, respect for the legal process, and a sense of ethics cannot be relied upon.

At least someone has taken a novel approach to solving that problem: “Have to turn off phone before going into courtroom,” said a tweet…from @BennyAce [Lee Aronsohn, the co-creator and executive producer of Two and a Half Men]. “Apparently it can interfere with the judge’s navigation instruments.”

*************************************************************************************

A short list of cases is at the bottom of this article (including the woman who said the judge had told her not to tweet but hadn’t mentioned blogging….so presumably she thought that was OK), or try googling “juror, social media, mistrial” and see the hits come up! Or conduct your own research on Twitter searching for ” jury”.

Interested in Social Media? here are a few more links:
And today’s bizarre social media news……
when-sources-become-journalists
Net-detectives





Net-detectives

15 02 2012

photo credit: Mike Quinn

If Sherlock Holmes were alive today, would he be surfing the net? Would Hercule Poirot be using his “little grey cells” to analyse Facebook timelines seeking incriminating evidence and little “coincidences”? Would Miss Jane Marple be exercising her lateral thinking skills on coming up with obscure hashtags to search? And what would Barnaby do, if he couldn’t drive around the lush green landscapes of Midsomer, having near-misses on narrow forest tracks?

Well, the detective-fiction genre would be dead and buried given how easy some criminals seem to be making it for law-enforcement. No suspense, no clues, no high-speed chases.

What is it about social media that makes us behave in ways we would never behave normally? Why do we leave our brain next to the keyboard when we start typing? Maybe it is the sense of slightly-disconnected anonymity that we feel when we are online. Perhaps it is the sense of really large numbers – with X billion photographs uploaded on Facebook today, will they really find my photo? Or perhaps that false sense of “we’re all in it together” that comes from interacting with a keyboard instead of real human beings. But if there was a Darwinian award for criminals, these people would be up for awards.

Category One: Crimes committed online.
As well as the untold numbers of incidents of cyber-bullying (and in no way belittling the sometimes terrible effects of cyber-bullying), the infamous Nigerian scams which somehow still seem to lure in the unwitting, and various other scams, phishing sites etc, identity theft as revenge seems to be a growing pastime / crime.

Like the woman who impersonated her ex-boyfriend (a police officer) online and set up fake accounts in his name. She then posted allegedly altered photographs and disparaging comments such as “I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun” and “I’m an undercover narcotics detective that gets high every day,” on the site, purporting to be from him.  What was she thinking?

And the Rhode Island prison guard who set up a fake Facebook profile in his boss’ name.  A career-limiting move, one would have thought.

There are more, but the most amazing thing about these two particular instances is their proximity to law enforcement / corrections. Didn’t that give them any pause for thought? Both of these examples seemed to think that creating a fake online identity for someone else was not identity theft. I’m guessing that neither of these people had a criminal record previously. Think before you post – if it’s criminal in real life, it’s criminal online as well.

Category Two: Crimes announced and promoted online.
This bank robber announced his intention to rob a bank in advance online, posted photographs of himself online with the loot, and DURING the robbery he changed his Facebook name to Willie Sutton Jnr, referencing a 1930s bank robber. Well, at least he was a little creative and knew his history….

Houston police arrested three men and a woman after they bragged on facebook about their $62,000 heist. Such classy postings as: “WOKE UP DIS MORNING! BUST DOWN A SWISHA!!! LOOK IN THE MIRROR LIKE I’M ONE RICH … WIPE MY TEETH WITH HUNDREDS WIPE MY *** WITH DIS 50s :$:$:$:$:$:$.” and “IM RICH *****” on their own and each others’ pages. I won’t even pretend to understand some of that – but I do understand the $$$ bits!  They also announced their intention to “get $$$” a few days before the heist.

And the FBI arrested Anthony Wilson when he posted photographs of himself online wearing the same distinctive clothes he wore in a bank robbery.  He thoughtfully matched his CCTV photos.

And then there are the many examples of illegal drag racing filmed by the participants and uploaded….and the case of fugitive Chris Crego who skipped interstate but helpfully posted his whereabouts online at Facebook AND MySpace – right down to his place and hours of employment.

Category Three: I am so addicted to social media that I need to update my profile WHILE I am committing the crime.
In addition to the example of the Willie Sutton Jnr robber above, Johnathon G Parker attained notoriety (and arrest) by leaving his Facebook page open on his victim’s computer during a house break-and-enter. Now anyone who watches NCIS knows that you can trace back what sites a computer has been on – but leaving it on your Facebook account is REALLY helpful.

The list goes on but I won’t bore you, it is more of the same. I suspect Sherlock Holmes would be doing a face-palm right now.  I know I am.

So surprise, surprise, law-enforcement are using social media as part of their investigative tools, not only to identify the perpetrators, but also to gather evidence. As well as profiling suspects and putting out bulletins of wanted fugitives, traffic hazards and the like, they are increasingly scanning social media for potential crimes and hazards. Police officers are engaged in cyber-undercover operations luring out paedophiles.

And really, we just hope the crims keep making it this easy.