After sharing a post from my Google Reader, I was pulled by one of my colleagues for being a bit controversial (especially first thing in the morning). My retort was that sharing content created by someone else, it didn’t matter that it might offend some people, after all it was shared content, not created. There are many things that I don’t really discuss on my blog or Twitter feed. I try to (with only a small degree of success) avoid the three social faux pas; money, politics, and religion. However, I quite happily share content around these topics.
Afterwards, this got me thinking about the differences between shared and created content and if putting content alongside your name into the public sphere, whether you penned it or not, still puts you at risk of being ‘tainted by association’.
There is a definite line between shared and created content online. Putting out someone elses content and claiming it as your own is a big no-no online, and though it does happen a lot (many brands are guilty of steal ideas from the web), when the creators find out they can pull the thief up on their activities and expose them online.
There are places where much of the content is re-posted, such as many tumblr blogs and viral sites like 9GAG. However, these sites tend to follow the rule of crediting the source of the content. Most of the content I post on this blog is my own, but if I ever use infographics or quotes, I always point the reader in the right direction of the person who created it. I like to keep the line between the two very clear, so at one stage even had a short-lived tumblr so as to have a place to share interesting content I find online, though now I just use my Google Reader Profile.
So in my eyes, there is a very clear line between the two and one that I try to maintain. So when I share content I find that then subsequently appears in my Twitter feed, the line is blurred. People may mistake me for the creator and if, like in this case, the content is designed to stir things up a little, the creator should probably be the one arguing his/her case rather than the people that just happen to agree or decide the content is interesting enough to share.
But this is just the solution in a perfect world. In the real world if you spread something, then you’re in line to take the flack. This has repercussions for how we behave online in the same way that you make sure drunken or offensive pictures don’t find their way onto your Facebook page, lest it cause your future job application to end up in the shredder. The case, then, should be that if you think that clicking the ‘share’ button might end up coming back to haunt you in the future, then perhaps you just continue to scroll, hiding away any opinions and feelings you may have.
Of course this then also renders us without any online personality and defining characteristic too, so I suppose it’s down to whether employers prefer an applicant with some well-formed opinions, or a ‘black canvas’. I suppose Dali isn’t to everyone’s taste…
Image credit – Salvator Dali, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening