Unsocial Networks

The dark side of social networking -- media's future, past or simply a dalliance -- is starting to rear its ugly head. Aleksey Vaynor, a Yale student is the latest victim of "video gotcha". His resume, letter and, yes -- video -- was somehow leaked allegedly by UBS (remember their slogan "You and Us"?) to staff and then YouTube. The video according to a New York Times article was "...staged to look like a job interview, is spliced with shots of Mr. Vayner lifting weights and ballroom dancing and has him spouting Zen-like inspirational messages." It's not the first negative result from the growing presence of viral networks nor will it be the last. Students have been warned to be careful of what they post on Facebook and MySpace and soon there will be legal ramifications beyond the prickly issue of rights management that was feared to be the underlying thing that could undo Google's recent purchase of YouTube and social networks. No. This could undo social networking. The repercussions of unauthorized videos winding up in the public eye potentially hurting someone. Young people are only beginning to grapple with the unthinkable -- that they could become the unwitting victims of their own words, their own actions (caught of video) and their own candor. Who would have thought? Wasn't DRM the dark side of the moon? Corporate media should keep its eye on this one. UBS has a black eye -- maybe a lawsuit. Traditional media companies rushing into interactive media with wallets wide open beware. Nothing is a category killer more than infecting your viral network. My advice: spend more time on protecting the integrity of your "community" and less time on monetizing this new growth category or else the ads will be worthless and you'll see an already fickle Gen Y market beat it for something else -- something safer. After all, predators in real or virtual society are getting to be a problem.