Social networking brings trouble for those who look

Two stories that again raise issues about YouTube and other social networking sites.

A weatherman on a US TV network has been embarrassed by some of his colleagues uploading a video of him goofing off to YouTube. this from a Sydney Morning Herald version of the story:

WBKO-TV, a station based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, said on its website that it has reprimanded weather anchor Chris Allen for “acting in a juvenile and unprofessional manner.” Rick McCue, station vice president and general manager, said Allen remains an employee.

The tape was from years earlier, never aired on television and was stolen by a former employee, who posted it on the internet, according to the station, which did not name the former employee.

This second story is about the Virgin company being sued for stealing a young woman’s image and using it an advertising campaign.

Details from the SMH:

A Texas family has sued Australia’s Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and website advertisements without consent.

The family of Alison Chang says Virgin Mobile grabbed the picture from Flickr, Yahoo Inc’s popular photo-sharing website, and failed to credit the photographer by name.

Chang’s photo was part of a Virgin Mobile Australia campaign called “Are You With Us Or What?” It features pictures downloaded from Flickr superimposed with the company’s ad slogans.

A colleague of mine, whom I quote occasionally, but who doesn’t want to be identified has sent the following through to me this morning. It helps to put some of my concerns intoa more theoretical context and I shall be returning to these themes in my next book, tentatively called “Journalism in the age of YouTube”, but perhaps going to be published with “DIY News: Global trends in digital journalism”.

Dear Learned Colleagues,

I’ve been very nervous about these social networking sites for some
time, but have never really put my mind to probing that unease…

This piece, from Online Opinion, crystalizes much of my nervousness…

[snip]

“On a local level, this is the growing phenomenon of “management
empathy”, where everyone at every level of the workplace now experiences
the same budgetary pressure from faceless suits. On a global level, the
hollowing out of hierarchy comes in the practice of skills and knowledge
transfer across countries according to the needs of global business,
when those with jobs in the West end up training others who will be
hired by the same firm at a cheaper rate to replace them. In these
circumstances, making friends, like with like, in cultural and regional
vacuums actually seems the worst kind of preparation for building the
alliances necessary to combat this wider structural trend.

Capitalism may have finally managed to produce an atomised workforce
that has no aspirations for living wage claims because overwork has been
normalised and an all-seeing screen binds together our public and
private identities. It is this reality that young people are preparing
for as they learn to “broadcast themselves” online. But those of us
concerned about their future must help them realise that while the
friendships they treasure on social networking sites may be premised on
a form of loyalty, the workings of capital and labour hire under
neoliberalism most definitely are not.”

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