There is a service you can now retain to help you with your anonymous social network stalking. The company, once contracted, will assume a cover identity; friend, follow, or otherwise connect with your desired target; and then publish a daily report regarding your mark and his or her Internet-enabled comings and goings.
Now, obviously this concept was first conceived, and quickly used, by a jilted adolescent lothario stalking his ex-girlfriend.
Friday, 1pm: Subject tweeted regarding her alleged kanoodling in cafeteria with varsity quarterback.
But business is a dog-eat-dog affair, and I imagine it took mere seconds for this service to transcend the realm of high school romance and get its MBA from Wharton.
I am personally acquainted with at least one executive (now former-executive) who somehow missed the memo stating that the Internet: a) can be seen by everyone; and b) never ever forgets. And this gentleman -- we’ll call him Larry -- singlehandedly eviscerated his career at a certain telecom giant via a careless and ill-advised bout of Facebooking after cocktails one evening.
Larry forgot the cardinal rule of social media: Just because you’re wearing a t-shirt and jeans, are three sheets to the wind, and hidden in the back of some dive bar while on business in Chicago, does not mean you can throw off the yoke of your three-piece pinstripe and loafers to embark on a tell-all, pictorial, autobiographical extravaganza via Facebook and expect to have a career in the morning.
I’ll say it again: The Internet never forgets. And no matter how you configure those all-but-useless privacy controls, someone will see you. And someone will be angry.
I consider social media to be a great and powerful tool. But as the face of Rain Computers, I understand all too well that a simple, innocent, alcohol-induced slip of the tongue could affect countless people in my organization, including staff, investors, partners, and even customers. Listen, I can party with the best of 'em. I just make sure that, if I'm going to lose a bit of self-control one evening, it’s lost in the presence of trusted friends -- friends who don’t let friends drink and tweet.
There is a price to pay for the ease with which we can, in this time of 24/7 publicity, become a household name overnight. And that price is one of ever-vigilant decorum.
So by all means, go out, have a few cocktails, sample the local culture. Just remember that posting pictures on Facebook of your debauchery might just have a deleterious effect on the meeting you have the next morning to discuss billions in distribution with Walmart. And act accordingly.
— Kevin Jacoby is CEO of Rain Computers, which specializes in high-performance solutions for audio and visual production.