Friday, February 13, 2015

Email Can Take You Down

At one time, if we wanted to gossip about people, we gathered our friends together and had a good-ole gabfest.



Today when we gossip, there's often a paper trail. Or at least an electronic trail.



We think if we text or email or instant message our secrets to our closest friends, they'll never tell anyone. What we don't realize is they don't have to tell anyone. As we learned from the recent Sony hackings, the things you send go through servers that could, at any point, be infiltrated.

(Not to mention the fact that your friend's phone could easily end up in someone else's hands...)



Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal had a bad, bad December when emails she'd written about top celebrities were leaked by hackers. She called Angelina Jolie a "minimally-talented spoiled brat" and made racist comments about the President of the United States. All comments sent through email to a colleague. Now the world knows every word she wrote.



I'm sure we've all sent emails, texts, or instant messages to someone about someone. I'm sure we assumed they'd never be read. But even if a group of hackers doesn't infiltrate a bunch of servers and leak them, how sure are you that the information you put in writing will never be seen by the person you're writing about?



Remember, Amy Pascal was pretty sure...and now she's no longer with Sony Pictures.

90 comments:

  1. If I thought gossiping would make me taller - I'd seriously consider it. My Grandmother always said, "if it doesn't make you any taller, it might make you feel smaller."

    (She was four foot three... and happy that I became five foot two.)

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    1. Those sound like good words to live by, Dixie!

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  2. Dixie, your grandmother was wise.
    Emails and texts are putting it in print, folks. And when it's in print, there is a record.

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    1. And with Big Data becoming so popular, who knows what businesses will be pulling from their servers in order to study their staff members?

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  3. Thanks, a cautionary tale if ever there was one.

    Greetings from London.

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  4. Amy became international hero after she said what we all think about that horrid Angelina person :) And she started her own company... so maybe it's better for her :)

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    1. It reminds me of that producer who wrote a tell-all called "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again," where she called out Steven Spielberg and a number of other people. I'm not sure if she ever worked again before she died...but seems she made quite a bit off the book so maybe she didn't have to!

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  5. Hubby can tell of stories from work when people have put things in emails and then sent them to the whole group instead of the original one person it was intended to (not hubby but others at his work over the years). Its a good system to stay in touch but you are right, one must be careful what one puts into them. They should make sure what ever is written they don't mind if the whole world comes to find it out.

    betty

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    1. I've known people who had bosses who would forward their emails. So if they were writing to complain about a co-worker or that something hadn't been done, the boss would forward that email to the person being discussed. That only has to happen once or twice for people to learn!!!

      And what about the people who send an email to someone's supervisor and copy them AND every head person in the company when they have a complaint about something they've done/not done? I've worked with people who did that...they didn't have many friends...and it's amazing how many complaints people without friends end up having because people don't want to help them EVER!

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  6. I've witnessed nightmarish situations too where people sent the WRONG email to the WRONG person with information that was not meant for the recipient. Very embarrassing for all! I love technology but it can get you into big trouble sometimes!

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    1. Whoops! Where I used to work, we had email at one time that could be retracted. (Groupwise). We switched to Outlook and no longer had that ability for some reason. I still want to be able to retract email and I use Gmail now! Sometimes I'll send something to a client and find out what I needed to know a few minutes later--but there's no way to retract the initial email, so I have to go back and send another email saying, "Disregard that." We need an undo button for life!

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  7. You make very good points.

    I always assume that anything I put into the electronic ether could one day become public. It's not a case of always being nice, or keeping my opinions to myself, but I make damn sure I can stand by anything I do write/text.

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    1. Sometimes our "send" finger gets ahead of our brains!

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  8. A good reminder. Thanks, Stephanie!

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  9. They haven't read enough good books to know you never leave a paper trail!

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    1. They need to read more murder mysteries, I guess!

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  10. Yep, anything written has the possibility of coming back and biting you in the arse. I have no secrets about myself as the cat blabs everything, but others if I really must say something, which is next to never, I give them a nickname and be vague.

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    1. Nicknames are a good idea...as long as the person couldn't figure it out from the context!

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  11. I have had a few instances where I sent a text to someone that was meant for someone else, just because the subject of the text was about that person. Luckily, it wasn't anything nasty! (More like, what would he like for Xmas and she is going there on vacation). But it taught me that I shouldn't text gossip, that's for sure!

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    1. I'd say everyone has made that mistake...and it's only going to get worse the more ways we have to communicate with each other!

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  12. Hi Stephanie, I am scared of even gossiping in person. Especially since people love to add their creativity to whatever we have said about another person. I do sometimes crib about people but avoid gossiping.

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    1. That is true!!! Gossiping can be a form of release, though. It makes you feel better to just get out of your system the things that bug you about people.

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  13. I'm not a big fan of gossip, but every once in a long while, the temptation is there. After a set of misinterpreted e-mails over a discussion/disagreement between colleagues, I try to keep anything that's really "big" or "potentially annoying" to phone calls and face-to-face conversations. Even when we don't mean to be in the wrong, words can get misinterpreted via quick e-mails and text messages.

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    1. A lot can definitely be misunderstood in emails. Incidentally, this is why I had to limit my freelancing clients to English-speaking ones... I was having a lot of issues with the language barrier. It just was way too much work, trying to communicate with people who didn't speak or understand English very well (but thought they did!).

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  14. definitely difficult to avoid talking about someone via email. but i've had it happen where i accidentally sent a slight directly to the person i was thinking of - instead of the intended recipient i had been talking to about him. could have cost me my job. still feel bad about all of it.

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    1. I did have a few instances where I picked up the phone to gossip about someone when a co-worker was copied on the same email I was. "Did you see that email? What is she THINKING?" LOL.

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  15. Always a good reminder! I try not to gossip (but it happens). I have said things via email or text that I wouldn't want shared with the world. I think what I have done more is complain about someone or something, not necessarily spread rumors. But- I would not want those things out there for everyone to read. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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    1. I think we all have...and social media makes it worse. I see people post things on Facebook all the time where I think, "Does she realize that she has 500 friends and even if the person she isn't talking about isn't one of them, they probably have a mutual friend? Duh!"

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  16. Definitely another good reason not to gossip!

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    1. True! Gossip avoidance can be tough...

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  17. Once you post or hit send it's out there and you can't delete it if someone else has already copied it. It's happening more and more every day. Make sure what you post is something you don't mind the entire world to see.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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    1. And our tweets are being archived at the Library of Congress...

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  18. My emails are safe but I have sent some gossipy FB messages to my sister and best friend. Oops! Maybe I'll keep that talk for when we're face to face.

    And I think Angelina Jolie is a fabulous actress!

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    1. There was a rumor a while back of a glitch where people's Facebook messages became public briefly. I think that ended up being fiction. I don't see how that would happen.

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  19. It is a very tricky situation and the Sony thing was definitely a cautionary tale. I don't like to gossip but there have been times I said something in an email to my sisters or nieces that I wouldn't want anyone else to see and I know that is not a smart thing to do. It's a little creepy to think how everything we write is out there and anyone can see it at any time.

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    1. Yeah, for most of us, even if our email accounts were hacked nobody would really care. Sony deals with high-profile people so their gossip is much more interesting to the general public than ours!

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  21. I was watching a broadcast where they discussed how teens are much more open about posting private things online compared to the older generation. At least teens are aware that what they're doing is public! Adults think that what they send privately will stay that way. Nope! Good reminder to all of us. I wish I could permanently get rid of some of the Facebook messages I wrote in college!

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    1. That's so funny--I just did an outline for an article about talking to your children about online safety. It had me thinking about that... Teens don't even think about it. They're out there with their duck faces on Instagram--accounts WIDE open--not realizing that in 2 years when they're applying to college, some admissions admin is going to be reviewing their application and researching them online.

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  22. Wow, I didn't know those things were said about Angelina Jolie.
    It's crazy how many email accounts and big time companies like Sony are being hacked. And who can't forget the Target incident? So many people's banking information was opened up... crazy!
    It really saddens me how out of control everything is, especially with our pre-teens and teens. I worry EVERYDAY about my niece and whether or not someone will write bad things about her. She is absolutely stunning, sweet, funny and smart. Get's all A's in class too. And still, her classmates bully her. With Facebook and Instagram, I really can't fathom some of the things people say about one another.

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    1. Meant to say "who can forget." Long day with author visits! Mind is pooped.

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    2. It happened recently to a healthcare company called Anthem Health Insurance? I've never heard of them but it looks like they're huge in several states.

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  23. we love our trip to Niagara falls. on the American side. the hubby had heard the Canadian side is more commercial. now since we have had our passports we have done other things never returned to that area as of yet??! i love Homer. he is always a real nut. ( :

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    1. We'll stick to the American side when we go then! No passport, too--that's a huge plus. I have a passport but I think it expires in 2016.

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  24. This is a great lesson for young people, too. To say some of the things I see are disturbing is an understatement. I keep thinking that in a few years, they will be more mature and perhaps job hunting...and the trail follows them.

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    1. So true...they don't seem to realize all those stupid "duck face" pictures are going to come back to bite them in the butt!!! I just Googled a teenager I know and got her Twitter account. It isn't so much what she's posting as what she's retweeting. If I were an employer, I would think twice about hiring some of these kids.

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  25. Good reminder. I try to stay positive in my correspondence. I don't always succeed, but it's better to be uplifting than to spend time taking people down. The only person you're taking down is yourself.

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    1. We do benefit from being positive.

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  26. And that's why we need to be careful what we say, text, email, and whatever. Remember what our mothers used to tell us: If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all.

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    1. A principle we should all live by, for sure!

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  27. Your quote about gossiping making you the center of attention is so cute! What a good way of looking at it, in case one ever happens to be the victim of gossip.

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    1. That has been my observation over the course of my life. I saw a quote when I was writing this that said, "Behind every piece of gossip about a beautiful woman are two ugly women." My thought on that is that "UGLY" isn't just a physical trait...

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  28. There was a day when you could still claim technological innocence, but I think we've all had enough time to learn that words written on the internet are pretty much written in stone.

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    1. True! Although it was only 1.5 years ago that I worked in an office in tech support where I saw people who still didn't know how to copy and paste in an Excel document...

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  29. I'm sure Fox News would hire her, hating on Obama is a requirement to work there I think.

    I know everyone has a different political views, but (especially in South Carolina) I do get sick of people hating Obama like he was a super-villain, or blaming him for everything.

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    1. I never really hear much of that...I see a lot of it on Facebook but I mostly just scroll past it!

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  30. I think Bambi had the right idea, " If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothing at all". I for one don't like gossip... but emails and the internet can become a scary trap.

    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. They can be...way too much wasted time there.

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  31. As bad as what Amy Pascal said it's probably equally bad or worse that others should have repeated it. In our age we're too quick to just spread the word and turn things into "news" items to discuss in public forums.

    I mean, you're making a good point here and it's not like you're spreading any new gossip in this post. It's a fair warning to all to make sure what we say online is something we want widely known. We just never know when something we've said online will come back to haunt us.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. You might notice that I didn't repeat what she said about Obama. I did repeat what she said about Angelina because, really, her words weren't really all that shocking. It's not like it's a surprise that a Hollywood starlet is seen as a spoiled brat by someone who has worked with her. In fact, the real surprise would be if there were a megafamous actor in Hollywood who wasn't called a spoiled brat at least once a day!

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  32. I'm absolutely going to recommend a book I think you will LOVE based on this post. It's entitled "Can you Keep a Secret?" by Sophie Kinsella. You will love it! :)

    I just finished the audio book tonight.

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    1. That actually sounds familiar. I looked it up and it came out during the time I was writing romance...I don't think I read it, reading over the synopsis...but it was right at the beginning of her career. I know I've read some books by her. I'm going to check it out! Hope you're doing okay. Big hugs.

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  33. How true is this! Words hurt and we are all guilty of a little gossip but we forget that anywhere we write people can see. We need to be mindful of what we say because it reflects mostly on us not the person we have gossiped about

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  34. You are so right, Stephanie. This sort of thing makes me very, very nervous.

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  35. Think of those poor people who send explicit pictures of themselves to their partners, thinking they're the only ones who'll ever see it.

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  36. I think this a very important post for a lot of people to read. And yes, technology is too easy to hack for anyone's liking, and it goes to show that what we may always perceive to private and ours isn't necessarily so. Sometimes face to face conversations about such things are much better kept in person. It's scary to know that things such as these could be revealed at any time... I am sorry for the catastrophe Amy Pascal has found herself in.

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  37. I never say anything in an email or text about someone that I wouldn't say to their face as well. That still doesn't mean it will be all posies and butterflies! :)

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  38. I think you wrote this for me! Having been extremely snarky about another blogger in an email -- this was a good reminder. First off -- don't be snarky!

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  39. This is why my boss and most of my co-workers (as well as myself) have an e-mail trail that stretches from coast-to-coast-to-coast. 99% of the toddlers that we deal with can't keep any of their stories straight on consecutive days, so more often than not, we joyfully prove them wrong.

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  40. The reason I feel so liberated when I write is because I don't care who reads it! :D

    Freedom feels so good, even when you are feeling so bad. Write like nobody is reading. ;)

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  41. Was I the one who created that quote about making me the center of their world? Haha! I feel the same way towards them. How special they make me feel! :)

    Take it easy girl. How's your Vday? :)

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  42. Fabulous post on watching what you say and how you say it - I've grown up with the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" idea and I apply that to email and text too. :) Love the center of the world quote, so cute - hee hee.

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  43. Absolutely love this! I've always done the "if you don't have anything nice to say" method--gossip is the worst and harmless gossip often escalates! So much better to just treat everyone the way we want to he treated (I sound like a fortune cookie haha)

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  44. Simply - don't say behind someone's back that you wouldn't say to their face! No sympathy for Amy Pascal. Maybe she knows AJ well as she is a minimalistic whatever, but you don't bite the hand that feeds you! All these quotes - I sound like my mum lol! x

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  45. Very well written, Stephanie! We should never talk ill about somebody else behind their backs, but I think we're all guilty of doing so sometimes. When we think using modern technology is a good way to vent....we should also be able to live with the consequences that might come up.

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  46. I don't text, email anything I would be upset to see elsewhere... I have said things between myself and another about us and if it ever came out, I would just say oh well... such is life. It is pretty well the same as saying it to someone who could let everyone know, except it is written proof you said it...

    I love technology, however; it really can come back to bite you if you are willing to divulge your secrets where anyone could ultimately read them.

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  47. Hi Stephanie! I remember the Sony thing. How embarrassing!! I remember reading a quote about don't say anything about anyone that you wouldn't say with them right next to you. That's a good rule of thumb. (Sounds a lot like what Suzanne said)
    She lost her job, but she also lost a lot of respect too.

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  48. I was following the news about the Sony mishap...so bad for her. Great post, yes it really would come back to bite!

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  49. I can honestly say I've never had a reason to bitch about anyone in an email, Facebook or anywhere else. Maybe I'm lucky, but even if I did I wouldn't say anything. They're trying to police things more and more. Now, in the UK, if you partake in "revenge porn" (ie spreading explicit pics of your ex-partner), you can go to jail and there are unofficial "troll hunters". I do have a slight belief in karma, and I think it has a part to play in all this.

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  50. I mostly listen to others bitch about their spouses or friends in emails. I can't think of a time that I wrote something that I wanted to be a secret.

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  51. That's one reason I've always almost referred to people by fake names in my journals, even if I never say anything untoward about them. Even long after I've given up the naïve idea of having my journals edited and published, I still want to be careful just in case someone should ever find them.

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  52. I'm a very private person when it comes to things I don't want everyone knowing. What I mean is there are things you'll never see me say via text, email, tweet, blog, etc.

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  53. Thanks for the reminder, Stephanie! I need to save my snark for the podcasts. lol

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  54. Good Idea not to put anything personal in writing that you don't want anyone to know about.

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  55. Excellent reminder! One should never say anything online they wouldn't say in public.

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  56. Ages ago I would vent online with coworkers. They were decent and did not spread things around, although I would never do that today.

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  57. So true, and very scary to think about.

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