Monday, March 2, 2009

You are judged by the company you keep

In the past week or so I have been "followed" by several quite unsavory characters offering services in which I have not the least interest. However, if someone were to plot my social graph, they might see these characters "following me", and draw a conclusion that I might have an interest.

Now if that someone were a prospective employer, or someone trying to establish that I was an unfit parent, I can imagine that my Twitter social graph could be of interest - and possibly grounds for non-hiring or withdrawal of parental rights.

Is that right? No I don't think it is - since I didn't do anything except exist - its the online equivalent of someone putting a flyer under my windshield wipers while parked at the airport. The trouble is that I at least know the flyer is there, the person who put it there (kinda) knows that s/he put it there, but no one else does unless it is a deliberate campaign of mis-information (putting kiddie porn magazines under an ex's wipers and then alerting authorities anonymously).

So, bottom line the associations you have are knowable to anyone with a mind to discover them, and thus open to all manner of misuse - of which blackmail is one of the less benign.