Social networkers = spin doctors?

Let's hope a growing number of young social networkers understand that, on the social Web, personal communications is pretty much public relations. In "Net users are becoming their own reputation managers," a CNET commentator provides a good reminder. What our parents shared in private diaries, letters and phone conversations and we shared in all the above plus emails, our children are sharing in (hopefully not wholly public) social-networking profiles and blogs. "This radical transparency lets more and more Internet users nurture their image, manage their privacy, stage their public appearances, and distribute carefully chosen content to their circle of online friends," writes the commentator in an upbeat way. What I'm hoping is that young social Web users whose brains are still in development (see this at the National Institute of Mental Health) are aware of this "opportunity" and that they actually have less control over what they post than this commentary or social-networking sites would have them believe (once something's posted, for example, current "close friends" who may not always be so in future can copy and later paste it harmfully in a place well beyond the author's control). The writer does point out a recent Pew/Internet finding that people are becoming more aware of their digital footprint (see this on the study). Anyway, spin "control" is becoming, if not a survival skill, essential reputation protection. [See also this Wired piece on "microcelebrity" and "Very public binge drinking."]

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