loose lips sink ships in Columbia, too.

This axiom from the second World War era cautioned servicemen and women to be guarded and silent when talking with others. In fact, “Loose lips sink ships” remained in the American idiom for the remainder of the century and into the next, usually as an admonition to avoid careless talk in general.

In January 2012, when so many use the immediate, flat-architecture of the Internet, “loose lips sink ships” rings loud and clear.

Just think, only 20 years ago, information transmitted via the Internet consisted of just “1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunication. By 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007 more than 97% of all telecommunicated information was carried over the Internet.” according to wikipedia.org.

Internet users  in the United States (via all digital devices) has increased from an estimated 44% of the population in 2000 to more than 71% in 2010. Globally, the number of Internet users has grown from just under 361 million to over 6.9 billion in the same period (1).

The Internet has proven to be a veritable trove of incredibly useful information; an astounding real-time information source; an entertainment source or format; a social connector and, sometimes, a repository of junk. To read a remarkable accurate prediction (made in 2000) of where the Internet would be in 2020, click to read “Transcendental Destination: Where Will the Information Revolution Lead?

The Internet is a (really big and cluttered) digital bulletin board.

(photo: Apartmenttherapy.com)You can find just about anything on the Internet, but the Internet is also a (really big, cluttered and potentially dangerous) minefield.

(Photo source: http://speacareers.wordpress.com)

And the Internet is a (really big, cluttered, potentially dangerous and full-of-trash) digital dumpster! Sometimes random garbage is thrown into the digital dumpster and the dumpster divers will find the garbage.

(Photo source: The Junk Doctors, Chicago)

Since Internet communications are bulletin boards, post cards or digital dumpsters, it may be a good time to talk more about …

(photo source: whatisinternetprivacy.com)

When secrets are shared between two people via texting, messaging, emails, social sites, etc. on the Internet, they’re really potentially being shared among more than 6, 900, 000, 000 of your closest friends. As one facebook site reminds us, “Two can keep a secret … if one of them is dead.”

The Internet can be an invaluable communication and information resource by knowing its capabilities, limitations and liabilities. To wind through the digital minefield, remember:

  1. Social media sites can be treacherous cyberbullying points. A recent article cites a case soon to be heard by the Supreme Court. Employers, too, look at social media sites. Facebook.com says “In a 2009 Harris Interactive study for CareerBuilder.com, 45% of employers questioned had used social networks to screen job candidates. Thirty-five percent of them decided not to hire a candidate based on what they found.”
  2. Emails are not confidential documents. Remember that emails can be forwarded and shared via the b.c. (blind copy field). Read more about the bcc field.  [NOTE: When responding to an email with the “reply all” field, an email response may be shared with unknown recipients.] For more about email etiquette, click here. Can you be sued for sending an email? Yes, says this LegalZoom opinion article.
  3. Should an elected “public servant” or councilor be sharing personal opinions or about the actions of other councilors, persons, municipal actions or businesses on the Internet. Absolutely not! Councilors “do solemnly swear (or affirm) that (they) will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that (they) will discharge the duties of (their) office with fidelity.” (2).
  4. Should you believe something you read it on somebody’s blog or in an email from a friend or relative? Unless there is a documented reference with a link to a trusted source, it doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, “It’s probably not … ” according to factcheck.org. Other sites to check Internet myths include snopes.com and About.com‘s urban legends.
  5. Read “the future of reputation” by Daniel J. Solove. Fortunately, you can read this really good book at no cost to you by clicking on the book below.

Remember the old “Hill Street Blues” caveat! Or in the context of the word-of-the-day from dictionary.com: Be a bit more perspicacious!

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