Forgive But Never Forget

What happens to the way we share when the Internet has a problem forgetting?  What happens to our sense of identity when we have to be so careful and crafty about every little thing we post?  On the one hand, people adapt and take on a kind of social media identity, like speaking a new language. On the other hand, the culture causes some to opt out and lay low like hiding in a basement until the storm passes.

I don’t blame them.  “Up to 70% of employers who have used LinkedIn say they’ve chosen not to hire a person based on what they’ve found out about them online” (Forbes, see Reference).  My friend has a name that coincides with a porn star’s—nothing against porn stars—and she’s a dance teacher running her own dance production.  The recommendation (also by Forbes) is to leave no room for mistakes—i.e., “look for ways to differentiate yourself”—which some people have to consider these days.


(The Latest Trend For Bridesmaids Is To Pull Up Their Dresses And Show Off Their Butts:

Now say an employer Googles the name of an applicant and finds that five years ago she was involved in a scandal case the ruling of which dubbed her completely innocent.  Still, this case becomes an impeding factor working against her favor until it is completely stricken from Internet search results, which likely is never because of ingenious caching mechanisms comprised as components of advanced Internet search algorithms.  This is a hypothetical that we commonly see in actual instances.  It is mentioned in blogs, essays, and commentaries; how are we called to relook at ‘forgiveness’ in this digital age?

On the other side of the spectrum we take a look at user behavior online.  This gripping short was introduced to us in a grad communications course.  We follow a coming of age teenager as his relationship slides into a digital ditch.  Oh, and the entire 17-minute movie takes place on a computer screen.  The short does an outstanding job presenting a story and how relationships carry on over the Internet, and in this case, how one can unravel amid social media.  It also offers another glimpse at the Internet backscratcher analogy and how we best think before we click.


[“Noah” short (NSFW):

A suggestion to employers: don’t overreact.  Digging up bachelor weekend photos from a potential future employee doesn’t amount to much these days.  If they currently make sexy videos on the side, that’s another thing.

The perennial reminder to all of us: if it’s private, it ain’t for posting.  We’re warned that Snapchat, in spite of its ‘auto-erase’ functionality, can be hacked if the receiver uses a third-party application to save the incoming photos and videos.  On different mediums I step out first to admit that I constantly have to learn about privacy the hard way.  A simple analogy: the Internet places a million metal back-scratchers at our ready.  Upon the slightest ‘itch’ we are encouraged to ‘scratch it’–i.e., take a picture, share it, allow so-and-so app to access it forever and ever.  Knowing when to scratch and when to let a needless urge go away could turn up a useful skill in this generation.  We’re in it together in this journey to digital fluency. We will—and we must—adapt and become smarter, more cognizant participants of social media lest the Internet fall in on itself, or fall prey to red-eyed digital bandits.



Ambrose, M. L. (2012). Seeking digital redemption: the future of forgiveness in the internet age. ExpressO. Retrieved from

Berkowitz, J. (2013). You need to see this 17-minute film set entirely on a teen’s computer screen. Fast Company.  Retrieved from

Hamlin, R. (2011, January 14). Forgiveness might still be possible in the digital age, but how do we forget? HuffPost: Religion. Retrieved from

Hamilton, D. (2011, September 29). The virtue of forgiveness, not forgetting, in the digital age. Divinia Hamilton Blog. Retrieved from

Jacobs, D. L. (2013, May 17). How an online reputation can hurt your job hunt. Forbes. Retrieved from

O’Brien, J. (2014, May 11). Snapchat not sexting-safe, cops warn. Toronto Sun: London Free Press.  Retrieved from

Pros and Cons of Big Data

As big data becomes a bigger and bigger part of the internet, we cannot help but wonder the impact that it will have on advertising, from both a consumer and agency standpoint. The issue of privacy and net neutrality also have become a heated topic that even has Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg talking. Today he released a statement expressing his frustration with the government’s lack of urgency when it comes to surveillance reform. He stated that he and his colleagues at Facebook work hard to keep their users’ information private and believes that the government should be just as concerned with protecting its citizens against the dangers of the open web. I found it to be interesting that Zuckerberg is so against big data when Facebook is filled with targeted ads that can only be made possible by big data. Another interesting article that I read explored the other side of big data and spoke about the advertising industry’s feelings towards it. Most of these agencies are for the use of big data because they all them to target ads to the right people, at the right time and to the right devices. In this article by Katy Bachman, it is explained that big data is being collected in a non-obtrusive way. Yes, the data is being collected but it is nothing that you couldn’t learn about a person yourself if you looked through their browser history. People are afraid that big data will “spy” on them and find out extremely personal information, which will then be used to hurt them. Obviously, no one wants to be taken advantage of, and that is not the advertisers’ intentions. The article explains that big data and surveillance does not seek out individuals, but demographics. It wants to know search patterns and what kind of audiences are responding to and purchasing goods and services. A clip with Jeff Kelly, Principle Research Contributor at Wikibon, explains the pros and cons of big data and its role in the advertising world very well in his interview for SiliconANGLE. He starts by talking about the Publicis/ Omnicom merger and why it happened. Advertising companies have to grow in size and power to compete with digital based advertising, such as  Google and Facebook. They need to deliver advertising with new methods because the traditional form of advertising is changing rapidly with the increased use of digital media. Big data allows advertising groups to figure out the best way, place, time and demographic to place ads and helps them to understand their consumers.




Bachman, K. (2014, March 13). Advertising community head to the white house to talk big data and    privacy. Retrieved from

Bachman, K. (2014, March 13). Zuckerberg says u.s. government is a threat to the internet. Retrieved from

How big datas will ad us the future of targeted advertising. (2013, july 30). SiliconABGLE. [Video podcast]. Retrieved from


Personal info in ads: innovative or intrusive?

Advertisers collecting and sharing users’ personal information has been a continuous issue in the age of digital media. This topic causes much controversy whenever instances of advertisers’ data gathering practices come to light.

A highly visible example of this ongoing debate features the social media giant Facebook. Recently, a class action lawsuit was brought up against the site in a U.S. District Court in California. The suit charged Facebook with sharing users’ personal information and activity without consent in “Sponsored Stories” ads.

These “Stories” ran on the site featuring the names and profile pictures of users who had “liked” certain advertisers’ pages. The ads appeared on users’ friends’ feeds as so-called endorsements of various products.

The court ruled that Facebook must pay out $20 million to the plaintiffs of the suit. This, of course, is a but a small piece of the $234 million that Facebook was paid by advertisers for these “Sponsored Stories” ads from January 2011 to August 2012.

This is not the first nor probably the last time Facebook, or other large media groups, will face such an issue. Each time a case such as this is brought up, the public reacts strongly in favor of more stringent privacy policies online.

However, not every instance of gross privacy violation by advertisers is met with public distain. This summer, Swedish advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi Stockholm ran a campaign for Elmsta 3000 Horror Fest, a horror film festival.

The campaign consisted of individualized messages send to users’ mobile phones. The message contained a photo of the outside of the recipient’s house, followed by the message “[Recipient’s name]. We’re waiting for you. In your living room.” If users googled the number contacting them, they were met with yet another startling message: “Now we’re in your kitchen. Tick tock…” This time, the message was a link to a site about the Elmsta 3000 Horror Fest and how to RSVP by responding to the texts.

A video detailing the campaign can be viewed here:

The campaign, while frightening, was overwhelmingly successful, with all those contacted signing up within two hours. And although the target audience of horror movie fans presumably enjoyed the terrifying experience, it does not take away from the fact that the advertising campaign relied almost solely on personal data. Unlike Facebook, where the information used was user-submitted (albeit not with the intention of being shared publicly), this campaign evidently used data collected anonymously.

What makes this campaign different from Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” ads? Why was one met with outrage and the other with admiration? Perhaps the small, targeted audience of the Elmsta campaign or the innovative nature of the ads excuses the invasion of privacy.

Either way, it is clear that use of personal information by advertisers is a common practice with minimal signs of slowing down, despite legal hurdles. What remains to be seen is whether such advertising techniques are truly innovative or just excessively intrusive.




Egerstedt, G.  (2013, July 2). ELMSTA 3000 HORROR FEST – HOME INVASION [Web Video]. Retrieved from

Levine, D. (2013, August 26). U.s. judge approves facebook privacy settlement over ads. Retrieved from

Unknown. (2013, July 10). A brilliant, totally messed up stalking mobile campaign for a horror film fest read more at