Friend, how often have you visited a website that you would not publicize on the front page of a newspaper? Let’s be honest, at some point we all have, even if it was by accident. This week, however, I have developed a renewed respect for cyberspace. I have had to acknowledge that even if one operates anonymously they are not at all anonymous.
What brought this about? On the back of Fat Creep™, essentially my new business and hobby I designed a newsletter. I have been interested in the world of business since before I was a teenager (weird, I know) and I’m always curious about new practices and methods. Last year, I noticed that several emails that I received had a “Mailchimp” stamp on them and I clicked on that stamp to investigate what Mailchimp was. Mailchimp is basically an email marketing resource but it goes far beyond that.
I decided to use Mailchimp although I didn’t realize the full extent of its capabilities. As a starting point for creating a newsletter, I contacted all of my friends including most of my Facebook friends to ask if it was okay to include them. Given my belief that most of my friends would be okay with it (and note, I am one of those people that actually knows every Facebook friend) I told my friends not to reply if my newsletter was welcome to spare them the effort. I made this explicit request for permission in the first two lines of the email to keep things transparent and I sent the request from my private email to ensure that it was actually read. I gave it a week because I know some don’t check their messages daily.
Following my first newsletter, a week later, I had the privilege of a status report and I was astounded, completely astounded at the level of detail in that report! Not only did it show how many emails had been opened but it also reported how many times the email had been opened, whether any links in that email had been clicked, which emails had bounced, which people had unsubscribed from the letter and who had hit the SPAM button! I knew exactly who had done what.
I was pleased that only two people had hit SPAM but given I had requested their permission I was not impressed, they were promptly unfriended on Facebook for irresponsibility. Those that properly unsubscribed I respected because I believe everyone should only receive information that they need and want to receive.
The whole experience, made me realize the extent to which the realm of cyberspace is not private. There is probably nothing less private. EVERY SINGLE CLICK, is recorded. If you are doing anything on your PC or phone that you would not be proud of, stop because you do not know how that click will one day hold you back, or worse be provided as evidence in court to build an image of your character.
Friend, you have been warned – cyberspace is dangerous, very dangerous. Keep it clean, keep it squeaky clean.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.