Rule 1: If you do something stupid, particularly if it’s also illegal, do not get your picture taken while doing it.
Rule 2: If you absolutely must have pictures of your stupid/illegal acts, don’t post them to the internet or email them around.
There they are folks, the cardinal rules of not getting caught. Yes, this blog entry will help criminals around the world. However, it’s also of benefit to politicians (present and future), and anyone else who might one day aspire to pretty much any place or position where one’s checkered past might not be so popular.
Spreading pictures of yourself doing stupid and/or illegal things is just, well, stupid. In fact, pretty much ANYTHING you post to the internet hangs around. Personal information? Check. Ranting about how your boss is an ass? Check. Nudie pics that you took “just for fun”? Double check – someone’s problably even selling access to them. Here’s an undeniable fact, so recite it over and over until it sinks in: The internet never forgets.
Like the elephants of legend, that which goes into the ether of the internet stays there forever, like a time-bomb waiting to be retrieved and used against you. Just go ask M and her friends P, M, and B. In the early days of the internet, back when it was just catching on in the late 80’s and early 90’s, people probably didn’t realize the potential. Even I didn’t realize back in the day:
(excerpted from here) Date: Wed, 05 Feb 92 16:32:36 -0500 Subject: Memory Discrepancies (PC) >From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Darin Cowan) >I don't know what the discrepancy is, but I went looking >around with Quarterdeck's Manifest, and QEMM because I found >the same thing. In my system, the addresses 9FFE and 9FFF >are taken up by something. QEMM reports they are unused, but >the whole 1K block cannot be mapped because something wants >them. This has always been this way and I am certain there >are no viruses on my machine.
That exceprt is 15 years old. The internet was little more than cans and strings back then. Good thing I wasn’t being a nimrod (although I probably wouldn’t have to dig very deep to find some internet tidbit where I was being a nimrod). The USA’s “Miranda” rights have, as part of their text, this little gem: “anything you say can and will be used against you”. I think it’s pretty fair to say that with the internet, anything you put in the internet can and will be used against you… it’s only a matter of time.
Have you ever wondered how many people would have gotten away with their little crimes if they didn’t have to flog it on the internet or email it around? The Canadian soldiers who beat a prisoner to death in Somalia likely wouldn’t have been convicted – if even caught – had they not posed with their pummelled prisoner for a few snaps for posterity. Ditto the US soldiers in Abu Ghraib. If M had actually spelled GEOSQUID as all one word, I’d have found the plate in a few days – her misspelling kept it a secret from me until someone else, misspelling it the same way, triggered a strange referrer link to a search engine and revealed it to me (yes, I read my blog logs). So Licence Plate Gang got a year’s respite from facing up to their prank. At least once a week some kid posts another gem on Youtube of himself or a friend doing something stupid, illegal, or both. The Star Wars Kid has to live down his little video.
And for sure, it’s great for law enforcement. It’s kind of hard to say “I didn’t do it” when you’re photographed in the act and then purposefully broadcast the photograph. But even if you’re not caught right away, do you really want the interview board for that CEO position you’ll be going for in 2015 typing your name into a search engine and coming up with your smiling visage and a caption that reads: “This is me stealing licence plates”? Ladies, your youthful webcam escapades will almost certainly come back to haunt you eventually.
So here are a few tips to help you live a happier life with the internet:
I hope everyone who reads this finds it useful. Be safe!