Investigative journalists might want to not broadcast where they’re investigating.

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I don’t want to sound insensitive to Laura Ling’s situation.   She’s obviously pursuing a tough assignment and giving coverage to people in a terrible situation. A socially worthy endeavor.

That said, she made the mistake of using Twitter in a way that I believe will get people in all sorts of trouble over time:

“China/NKorea border.”

“Hoping my kimchee breath will ward off all danger”

“Spent the day interviewing young N. Koreans who escaped their country. Too many sad stories.”

“Missing home.”

She better hope her kimchee breath will ward off the North Korean court system from using these updates as evidence against her in whatever form of trial that country might put on.  Look, I get that using Twitter fulfills some odd desire in people to feel like every single detail of their lives is worthy of 140 characters of text broadcast to the world.  That’s totally fine in my book.  Whatever provides people with entertainment, I’m all for it.

However, if you’re an investigative journalist, don’t you think it might be wise not tell the world when you might be sneaking around one of the most dangerous borders in the world and conversing with people who would be considered criminals likely worthy of death in their native country?

Worse now is that the North Koreans can use her and her collegue as leverage in international negotiations.

The lesson from this:

– Maybe throttle back the content a bit?  I’m sure that some coy and obscure updates might serve an investigative reporter better than explictly saying where they are.

I never get the good ones

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If someone is trying to view my online profile by creating a ghost account, they’re totally going about it the wrong way.  Unlike the NFL, which uses fake profiles of attractive women, I recently was added randomly with this as his profile picture:

I won’t publish the picture of the guy, but trust me, whatever cliché image you have in your head as to what the person might look like is probably spot on.

The lesson from this:

– Be careful who you add, and create a limited profile if you absolutely must mingle coworkers and such in your group of friends.

“Dan is [expletive] devastated about being fired by the Eagles”

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Dan Leone, a part-time worker with the Philadelphia Eagles, was fired over a status update on Facebook.  Normally, when I see people make fatal errors of judgment on social networks it’s something classically bad.  However, Mr. Leone’s probably mirrored the reaction a typical fan (and people from Philadelphia are among the most passionate fans) might have:

“Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver … Dam Eagles R Retarted!!”

I’ll ignore spelling and grammar.  Dan worked in stadium ops, so while it’s never a good idea to reveal poor language skills, it probably has no bearing on whether his employer would be concerned about his ability to do his job.  However, he did take a shot at the organization who signs his paycheck.  So, while his reaction was typical of a Eagle fan, his relationship with the franchise was not.

The lesson from this:

– Spell check.

– Never post anything related to your employer.  Even if you think it’s positive, you have no idea how someone else will perceive it.

Now, for people who absolutely insist on taking such risks, you’ve got to be on top of your privacy settings and your selection of friends with access to your profile.  I’ll stress, this is easier said than done.  I recently added a geographic region on Facebook and discovered that, by default, people who are members of that region (just a few million people in San Francisco…) could search and view my profile.  This, despite my privacy settings for my existing networks being restricted to just friends.

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