In the past few weeks, I've read stories that should make us all pause and think about how some folks are using online media and providing an unprecedented view of potential crimes and wrongful actions. From girls posting a video of themselves beating up a classmate to the infamous picture of Olympic champion Michael Phelps using drug paraphernalia, these are examples of where people really need to think before they post. It is likely the person who took and then posted the picture of Phelps didn't think of the potential repercussions—like possible jail time and lost endorsements for the athlete.
Likewise, teens and young adults (and older adults too) probably aren't thinking of the criminal repercussions of sending or sharing nude or inappropriate photos. From Wisconsin to Virginia and points in between, young people are engaging in "sexting"—sending nude or partially nude photos via text messaging. What they don't realize is they can be charged with possession of child pornography and, if convicted, could be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.
A recent Business Week article highlighted a new website called "Yo Busted" that allows people to post whatever pictures they want of you. But then, you, the victim, will have to pay them if you want the pictures taken down. Currently labeled "under construction," this website is frightening. Someone can post pictures of you in intimate or embarrassing situations that could live forever on the Web! Just think of what a cyberbully could do.
I love technology and the instant access it gives us to our family and friends. It allows us to do many great things. But, I'm also concerned. Are we creating a culture where sexting, cyberbullying, and other inappropriate technology-based behavior can thrive?