Tag Archives: Social Media

Anonymous – is it always the right way to act?


A few months ago, I watched a video released by Anonymous, asking to take actions against the boys involved in Rehtaeh Parsons’s death. The video release was addressed to the general public, police, rapists, Rehtaeh’s high school, and students who allegedly gang-raped Rehtaeh. The message was very powerful as Rehtaeh’s case was reopened and four boys were charged.

Anonymous is a group of international activists whose goal it is to “help govern the world.” Many of its members are programmers who often hack or threaten to release classified or sensitive information to the public, if an organization does not take certain actions.

One may consider Anonymous as a great organization that helps make our world a better place, but I sometimes question its actions. I personally don’t like when people hide behind a mask and coercing the government to act in a certain way. Such an approach can compromise the work that the government does, and can even be interpreted as being of a terrorist nature. I do understand that Anonymous may have the interest of people in mind, but we need to take a look at the big picture.

The government is there to protect its people. Public servants have the education and experience required to deal with certain situations. Anonymous on the other hand, my not necessarily have the experience or the necessary perspective to respond accordingly to perceived wrongs committed by the government. In fact, due its limited scope, the actions of Anonymous can cause more harm than good. For instance, in Rehtaeh’s case, releasing the names of the alleged rapists would have not only contravened the Youth Criminal Justice Act  that aims to protect the identity of minors, but it would have also prevented justice from being carried out properly. The release of the names of those boys, before the police and courts could determine their culpability would have compromised their security but also their right to a fair trial.

In summary, Anonymous tries to make the world a better place, but unfortunately, sometimes it does the opposite. It teaches other people that making threats and breaking the law are acceptable ways to achieve one’s goals. People must be mindful that such actions may compromise the core foundations on which our society is built.


Is Your Personal Information Safe?

Recently Canadians and Americans discovered how their governments spy on their own citizens by accessing their personal information online. Many people have become concerned about their privacy and have expressed their dissatisfaction. However, what they got in return from the government were assurances that either the government did not spy on its citizens, and if it did, this was for the purpose of protecting the wellbeing of its citizens.

Many of us (including me) were not satisfied with such an answer and started to look for ways to protect ourselves. Since we are spied on via phone conversations, text-messaging, use of social media, emails, and other technologies, I propose the following suggestions that could help us:

  1. Talk in-person – when possible, avoid texting or calling in order to exchange personal information. If the situation permits it, talk to your friends in-person.
  2. Stop the constant updates on social media – letting everybody know where you are located, which event you are going to, or what you have eaten for breakfast will not help you protect your privacy. When possible avoid posting updates about your personal life.
  3. Think before clicking the ‘send’ button – before sending a message think whether it contains personal information about you or somebody else and imagine what would happen if somebody else reads this information.
  4. Consider the audience – keep in mind the reaction of your intended and non-intended recipient. For instance, a message suggesting to run the car into a bar may seem like a joke to your friends, but may seem as a safety issue by the government.
  5. Know the security features of your channel – many social media channels have good privacy and security features that allow you to protect your information. Make sure you know what they are and use them.

These are the steps I have chosen for myself when I learned about how the government can easily access our personal information. It would be interesting to hear other advises. Feel free to leave your recommendations below and remember that the government is reading it as well.

My aha moment of #hashtags

For the past month and half I have been tweeting and continue to do so on a daily basis as part of an assignment for a communications course I am currently taking at the University of Alberta. One of the main goals of this assignment is to increase my online social media presence and to expand my tweeter network.

Tweeting on daily basis has not been such a difficult task, as I always find interesting topics to tweet about, but increasing my network has been more challenging. Since I wanted the attention of my classmates, I used our course hashtag, #comm506, for every tweet I sent. This strategy helped me to increase the number of followers on my account in the first week of the assignment. This seemed like a great start, but in the second week I could not attract any new followers. This forced me to re-think my strategy, as I wanted to draw the attention of additional users.

During my third week, I thought that it would be a great idea to add another hashtag, something trendy and common among my tweets, and so I chose #socialmedia. I was very excited to when I saw that this hashtag attracted 3 new followers to my account. As in the previous weeks, however, I was not able to attract other followers in the following week.

In my 5th week of tweeting, I decided to play around with hashtags and add them in relation to the tweet I was tweeting out. For instance, if the tweet was about Google Analytics, I would add #googleanalytics.  This approach was very successful, resulting in a high number of new followers at the end of that week. In addition to that, I also noticed that random people sent me tweets in response to my earlier posts. That is when I had my aha moment of hashtags.

Hashtags are great! They should be used in multiple ways. First, they should be used to attract specific groups of users who are interested in similar issues. Second, it is ok to have more than one hashtag in a tweet. Lastly, it is important to add a hashtag that is related to the body of the tweet.