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Data blunders: From cyber crime to social media sackings

It’s time to wise up online in 2013 says agency MD Rick Guttridge as he peruses some of the latest dark digital happenings….
January brings with it resolutions. Which is understandable- a fresh start to the New Year and all that. But amid the cigarette quitters and drink-lessers, I’m surprised more commitments aren’t being made to improve the way we work and communicate digitally.
According to recent news, Greater Manchester’s police force has witnessed a huge spike in reported Twitter crimes, such as offensive and threatening messages. Whether bullying or simply pranking, this misuse of personal details- with targets often chosen based on profile biogs and interests- is indicative of a perception that social media and the digital realm are anything goes frontierlands.
Realistically, though, this isn’t the case. In fact, it has never been more important to consider our electronic actions, before they come back to haunt us. Just look at the trouble Sony recently landed itself in thanks to data protection negligence. The firm’s security systems, used to safeguard PlayStation 3 accounts, apparently weren’t up to scratch. The company was hacked, and plenty of information compromised- which really isn’t acceptable anymore.
Away from cybercrime the reasons to be very careful about what particulars are being stored, where and by who, go well beyond theft and threatening tweets. Every status update and 140-character sentiment, not to mention all images and links, can potentially land you in hot water. Our private and professional lives are no longer entirely separate, as the following five social media sackings go to show. So read on, enjoy, and even laugh if you must, just be sure to take on board the lessons inherent in these stories, obvious as some may seem.
And of course, if you need advice on any subject in this area, from avoiding these pitfalls to digging yourself back out again to restore corporate reputation, call the team at Smoking Gun for help.
Sale Sharks fans are ‘f***wits’
Holleh Nowrouz was the social media executive at Manchester-based rugby team Sale Sharks, until she labelled fans who were critical of the side’s social media and blog content “absolute f***wits???. No, she didn’t last long after that.
Josh Brookes wants to see you naked
Australian X Factor contestant Josh Brookes was kicked off the show last September after trying to get some of his 24,000 Twitter followers to send him nude pictures of themselves. Inappropriate in extremis, and also a little creepy.
Preece v JD Weatherspoon
Weatherspoons manager Miss Preece took the pub giant to court following her Facebook-related dismissal, a result of venting anger online at the abuse she received after evicting two drinkers, without checking her privacy settings.
Daemon Johnson: to protect and post
Many police officers have been disciplined thanks to social media stupidity. An Inspector Johnson was fired outright after an ‘unprofessional’ image went to Facebook rather than his partner’s phone, his emails were then searched, and a message containing a ‘sexual comment’ was found, breaching in-house policy.
Teaching at Thomasboro is not funny
In Charlotte, North Carolina, a teacher ruined her career after writing ‘I am teaching in the most ghetto school in Charlotte’ in the About Me section on Facebook, with drinking listed amongst her favourite hobbies. A bad joke no less.

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