There Is NO Privacy On The Internet

For a couple days, this issue has been going around the various loops and blogs that I read, and I’ve resisted posting it because I figured y’all have seen it already. But John Scalzi came up with another twist on it, so I thought I’d share.

Here’s the initial story:
“Today’s Writing Contest To Run Like Hell From”

And here’s the update:
“First One Publishing and 404 Pages”

In essence, the first one talks about a writing contest with really awful rules, like: “By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.

And Scalzi goes on from there, ripping apart the contest rules. **shaking my head at contest sponsor** Did they really think they could get away with it?

The second entry says that the original web page with the rules has been taken off the sponsor’s website (hence people getting the “404” which is the web page error message saying the computer can’t find the page).

But his blog entry also goes on to state that no web page really disappears on the web… and he links to the page that Google has cached (held in storage on Google’s computers to make page loading faster). You may have to go to “View => Page Source” to read the whole set of rules… but they are there, for the whole world to see, even after the original page was taken off the website.

So, morals of the story:

1) Don’t create stupid rules for your contests

2) Check and double-check and triple-check every word you type into any website, be it your own website or Facebook or ANY! website… and include in this warning every EMAIL that you send… because once it’s saved/sent, consider it a permanent fixture on the internet. And I guarantee that if it’s not kind, generous, in good taste and professional… it WILL come back to bite you!!!

3) The web is NOT private, no matter what your privacy settings are set to, because anybody who can SEE your page, can also COPY your page and POST it or email it to anybody and everybody they choose. And there are many, many places that cache pages for various purposes. If that’s not bad enough, many people never delete their old emails, so every message you ever sent them is there for them to forward to another person at any time in the future.

4) And if you have kids, reinforce rules #2 and #3 again, and again, and again. They may think it’s cute or cool to post things on Facebook and blogs… but those things NEVER disappear. One of the first things colleges do is a web search on applicants. And EVERY serious job applicant will be searched on the internet before they are offered a job.

You never know who’s going to copy/forward/post/cache the things you post/email. Be VERY careful what you put out there.