Business Videos: Part 2

Part 1 of this 2-part article on Business Videos outlined all the work that needs to be done before work begins on the actual video.  Those who haven’t been involved in this before are usually surprised to learn there’s more work involved on the front end than on the back end when creating an effective and successful video.

Live Action Shots

With the storyboard in place, live action shots can be managed before any filming begins.  The storyboard allows the filmmaker to identify potential locations for live action shots.

Securing signatures (on a one-page contract) that grants permission to the film crew to shoot on location is one step that can’t be put to on the back burner.  Missing signed contracts can result in business video distribution (regardless of whether it’s television or social media or any other distribution network) being stopped in its tracks.

Even with signed permission, always shoot far more footage than you think you’ll need, and go with more than just one take.  The reason for this is that it’s better to have a selection from which to choose the best angle.  If there’s no best angle, you may have to splice two or more takes into one to make the shot work.

Motion Graphics

Motion graphics is a digital technique that combines images and/or audio.  Those credits at the beginning and end of a movie are motion graphics.  The pop-up text on screens during video presentations are motion graphics.  If you nail the right mix of visual and audio components, it will stay with your audience (which is what you want).

From the font used to the way text moves around on the screen or the music swells during emotionally charged moments, having the right motion graphics in place will spell the difference between a good video and a great video.  The right motion graphics create the moods that accompany the message, and sustain the moods in a fluid, transitional linear fashion.

Animation

When you hear the word animation, you probably default to thinking about cartoons.  While that’s one form of animation, there’s more to animation than just cartooning.

Cartooning encompasses many things from staging (to establish mood, create focus, and clarify the message in a shot) to secondary actions (how the action created by the focus causes action to happen in items in the same shot) and on to timing (the most effective sequence of shots) and appeal (the best arrangement of visual and audio).

Voice-Over Recording

Nothing will derail a fantastic video faster than having the wrong voice over talent reading the script.  This is where auditioning talent will save everyone a lot of grief in the long-term.

Think of the car commercials from the 70s where Ricardo Montalbán’s smooth exotically accented voice seduced us into thinking about Corinthian leather.

Think of the Tylenol commercial with the calming voice reassuring viewers that Tylenol would make them feel better soon.

Think of the Dos Equis beer commercial where a cultured voice dishes on the Most Interesting Man in the World.

Now imagine swapping out Ricardo Montalban’s voice with that of Pee Wee Herman, or soothing Susan Sarandon’s voice with that of peppy Fran Drescher’s voice, or having Roy Romano tell us about the Most Interesting Man in the World.  The result is that changing who does the voice over also changes the feel of the commercial.  And this is why you have to audition voice-over talent.

Sound Track

Music can add or detract from a visual presentation.  The purpose of having a sound track is to elicit an emotional response, and as with voice talent, the genre matters as does style, arrangement, and (if there are vocals) the vocalist.

The word entertain actually means to engage the attention.  So while music is supposed to be entertaining, the purpose of using music in your video should be to engage the attention of viewers and hold the attention of viewers.

Whether you use a song that’s easily recognized by the public (e.g. Andrew Gold’s “Thank You For Being A Friend”) or one that’s far less recognizable, remember to secure written permission from the copyright owner(s) to use the music in your video.  Contrary to popular misconception, it’s not prohibitively expensive to do things the right way.

Editing

Simply put, editing is the preparation of materials through correction, revision, and modification, for final presentation.  The purpose of editing is to detect and correct errors and continuity flaws, to clarify the message, to eliminate those parts of the presentation that are unsuitable for the target audience, and to create a smooth flow from start to finish.

Final Product

Once you’ve completed all the steps mention in this entry as well as last week’s, you will have a quality presentation in your hands, with all the legalities and obligations addressed in a timely fashion.

Elyse Bruce

What’s With Maryam Monsef?

While campaigning in 2015 as a Liberal candidate (she was later elected and named to Justin Trudeau’s cabinet), Peter Tweeter Maryam Monsef (who participated in the Peter Tweeter cyberbullying of an anti-bullying supporter) often talked about how certain previous politicians lacked integrity. Now it seems that Ms. Monsef may have also engaged in a lack of integrity.

When the Globe & Mail published an article on Thursday, September 22, 2016 revealing that Monsef was not from Afghanistan as she has claimed since being elected to office (she was born and raised for a large part of her life in Iran), Monsef blamed her mother, saying she withheld that information from Monsef and her siblings.

QUOTE: “My sisters and I asked my mother why she never told us we were born in Iran. She told us she did not think it mattered.”

If it didn’t matter, then telling her daughters the truth would have been as easy as letting her daughters believe a lie.  Except we only have Monsef’s most recent statement pointing at her mother as the responsible party for the incorrect information.

This is the breakdown of Monsef’s childhood.

  • 1985: Maryam Monsef born in Iran.
  • 1987: Family leaves Iran for Afghanistan where the family remains for 3 months.  (Monsef is a toddler)
  • 1987: Family returns to Iran, and lives there until 1993 (Monsef is a school age child)
  • 1993: Family leaves Iran for the second time, and lives in Afghanistan for 2 1/2 years (Monself is a school age child)
  • 1996: Family leave Afghanistan and enters Canada as refugees.  (Monsef is a tweener)

The breakdown shows that Monsef lived in Iran for 8 years, and in Afghanistan for less than 3 years.  Given her age, she should have knowledge of where she was and wasn’t born.

Conservative candidate Michael Skinner ran against Monsef in the 2015 election.  He claimed to the media that he was told by former classmates of Maryam Monsef that she spoke in high school about being born in Iran and of being Iranian.

SIDE NOTE 1:  Monsef has also marketed herself as Persian in the past.  Historically speaking, Afghanistan was a separate country from Persia since the Battle of Damghan in 1729 when Adhmad Shah Durrani was made the founder of the Afghan empire.

People on social media who attended high school with Monsef are posting what they have heard or know about Maryam Monsef by her own words.  In high school, she claimed she was Iranian and not an Afghani.

monsef-1

Some have asked on various websites if it matters where Monsef was born, and the answer to that question is “Yes.”

This soon-to-be (her birthday is November 7th) 31-year-old University educated graduate would have people believe she had no idea she was born in Iran. However, a great many legal documents (from passports to student loan applications and more) demand that the applicant state the country in which he/she was born and to provide a birth certificate as proof.

QUOTE:  “Conservative MP Michelle Rempel questioned whether Ms. Monsef’s birthplace was accurately represented on her refugee and citizenship applications, saying there would be “serious consequences” if it wasn’t. Speaking to The Globe and Mail Thursday, Ms. Rempel said the minister has some explaining to do.”

SIDE NOTE 2:  Maryam Monsef graduated Trent University with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology.  Such a degree provides scientific training with a concentration in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience; Developmental; Social; or Clinical and Behavioral Health.

Perhaps the strangest and most telling aspect of this story is from an interview Monsef did with CTV News.  At the 6 minute 40 second mark, she says she forgot she was born in Iran.  In order to forget something, you must first know what it is that you eventually forget.

SIDE NOTE 3:  By legal definition, Iranians are considered White/Caucasian.

Where a person is willing to lie about one important fact, they are usually willing to lie about as many important facts as they feel they are able to get away with selling to the public.  It’s especially troublesome when the person/s lying is/are politicians with power, and responsible for addressing social issues as well as representing the constituency that elected him/her/them to power.

This article was compiled with information gleaned from various newspapers and newspaper social media sites.

SUGGESTED READING

BARACK OBAMA BIDES ADIEU TO CANADA WITH A FEW WORDS FOR DONALD TRUMP
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/wherry-obama-speech-parliament-1.3659257

MARYAM MONSEF CONFIRMS SHE WAS BORN IN IRAN, NOT AFGHANISTAN
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/maryam-monsef-iran-afghanistan-1.3773930

MINISTER MARYAM MONSEF CORRECTING DOCUMENTS AFTER BIRTHPLACE REVELATIONS
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/minister-maryam-monsef-correcting-documents-after-birthplace-revelations/article32017941/

MONSEF REACTS TO REVELATION SHE WAS BORN IN IRAN NOT AFGHANISTAN
http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/2016/09/22/monsef-reacts-to-revelation-she-was-born-in-iran-not-afghanistan

MONSEF URGED TO QUIT LIBERAL CABINET AMID CLAIMS TRUE BIRTHPLACE HAS BEEN KNOWN FOR QUITE A WHILE
http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/monsef-urged-to-quit-liberal-cabinet-amid-claims-true-birthplace-has-been-known-for-quite-awhile

MP MARYAM MONSEF BORN IN IRAN NOT AFGHANISTAN
http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mp-maryam-monsef-born-in-iran-not-afghanistan-1.3083437

PETERBOROUGH MP’S BIRTHPLACE REVELATION DOESN’T CHANGE HER IDENTITY
http://www.mykawartha.com/news-story/6872449-peterborough-mp-says-birthplace-revelation-doesn-t-change-her-identity

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED READING
(added since 23 September 2016)

MONSEF: “I’VE VERY WARM MEMORIES OF GROWING UP AS AFGHAN IN AFGHANI COMMUNITY
http://en.cijnews.com/?p=48185

FORMER PETERBOROUGH MP KNEW YEARS AGO THAT MONSEF’S FAMILY WAS FROM IRAN
http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/2016/09/28/former-peterborough-mp-knew-years-ago-that-monsefs-family-was-from-iran

Business Videos: Part 1

Most businesses have toyed with the idea of creating a video to showcase what they do.  Some have gone as far as to actually put together a video while others have been reluctant to do so.  Today’s entry walks readers through the steps to better understand the process.

First Steps First:  You Need A Strategy

Not unlike military maneuvers, you need a strategy before the cameras start rolling.  You need a strategy before the script is written.  You need a strategy even before you come up with a concept.

The dictionary defines strategy as “a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.”  In the case of a video for business purposes, the strategy is the perfect blend of who, what, why, and how.  A wonderful example of this concept is found in the children’s movie, “The Master Of Disguise” starring Dana Carvey.

Before you do anything else, define the who, what, why, and how of the video.  Who are you targeting?  Why are you targeting this audience?  What do you want this audience to do?  And how do you plan on getting that message to your audience?  Once those questions are answered, you’re ready to work with your creative team to come up with a concept.

It Starts With An Idea

Once you’ve got your strategy, it’s time to apply that strategy to the ideas that are presented.  The idea that fits the strategy is the concept — a concept that will help sell or publicize your service(s) or product(s).

Coming up with a concept won’t be as simple as you think.  Many ideas will meet most but not all of the criteria set out by the strategy.  If no idea meets all of the criteria set out by your strategy, keep looking.  There’s no sense in going with a concept that’s almost 100% when a bit more work will yield the concept that’s exactly what you need for the project.  At that point, you can move on to the scriptwriting phase.

What A Script Is

Nearly everyone knows what a script is but what most people don’t know is that not every author or writer can write a script.  Scriptwriting is the art of writing well for mass media.

The Definition of Mass Media

Mass Media is the how technology communicates with a vast majority of the general public.  It’s movies and video games.  It’s hard copy and online newspapers and magazines.  It’s even video games.  But it doesn’t end there.  Whatever the medium, if it communicates with a vast majority of the general public, it’s mass media.

Mass Media Scripting For Your Demographic

Knowing what you want to do and knowing what components are necessary to bring the concept to life.  If you have gotten your strategy right, the concept and scripting will align with your strategy.  In other words, a well-defined strategy will lead to the right concept and when you hire the right person to script your concept, the script will also work as intended.

When you get to this stage, choosing the right person makes a big difference to the final product.  If you choose someone who is great at creating awesome scripts for showy theatrical productions but your concept is for a barebones YouTube commercial, it won’t matter how incredibly talented the scriptwriter is.  That scriptwriter isn’t a good fit with your concept.  Go back to the drawing board and find the right scriptwriter to fit your concept.

Assembling The Assets

Once you have your script in hand, it’s time to assemble the essential assets for your video, and that starts with a detailed storyboard.  A storyboard?  Yes, a storyboard.

Storyboards are visual organizers that create the continuity your video will need to succeed.  Each panel will have technical information included along with a visual representation of what is happening at this point in the video.  In other words, it’s a shot-by-shot call-by-call representation of everything that might be included in the final product.

Final Note

Next Tuesday, I’ll be writing about each of the assets leading to the final product:  The video.  In the meantime, take some time to figure out what your strategy is.  It sounds easy enough, but it may not be as easy as you think.

Elyse Bruce

The Double WOW Plus Factor

Last week on Arts Sunday, I wrote about the upcoming Missy Barrett Adventures book launch for “Barnstormin’” at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevierville.  Mentioned in last week’s article were the WOW and the WOW Plus Factors.  What I didn’t mention was that I had a Double WOW Plus Factor planned for this book launch.

What Was The WOW Plus Factor?

The WOW Plus Factor was the Official Certificate from the National Air Transportation Association (N.A.T.A.) naming Missy Barrett an honorary member for 2016.   That alone impressed children and adults, and got kids talking about how they could earn a certificate as well.

What Was The Double WOW Plus Factor?

It might be difficult to imagine a second WOW Plus Factor for a children’s book launch, but this book launch had that thanks to Marc Hightower (a real person) of Sky High Air Tours (a real business) who takes Missy and her grandpa for a ride in his 1927 Waco Straight wing biplane.

With the help of Marc and my book launch assistant, fellow author Thomas D. Taylor, I had a surprise in place that (if all went according to plan) would blow away the kids as well as the adults.

What Was The Surprise?

In the story, when Missy first meets Marc, he makes an unforgettable impression on her.  I wanted everyone at the book launch to have a similar moment to take away with them.

The Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport is a general aviation airport so pulling this off required precise split-second timing on everyone’s part.  While Marc awaited the cellphone call as he sat in his biplane, Thomas waited for the exact point in the book reading where he would give Marc the signal to begin his approach to the doors into the terminal.

Six pages into the book, one of the children noticed the biplane moving towards the terminal.  It wasn’t long before children were excitedly whispering about the biplane that was approaching.  All of them shared a special secret, and they were certain that I had no idea what was going on because my back was to the window looking out on the tarmac.

The Double WOW Plus Factor!

Then I read this paragraph in the story:

That’s when she saw him — the pilot from straight out of the movies, and he was walking towards Missy and her grandfather.  He had on a leather jacket and a silk scarf, just as she hoped he would, and in one hand, he had a leather cap and goggles. 

As I read those words, Marc strolled into through the double doors and into the lounge area where the book launch was taking place … wearing a leather jacket and a silk scarf, and in one hand, he had a leather cap and goggles.

The Impact

I’m sure you can imagine the punch that Double WOW Plus Factor packed!  Undoubtedly, this was instantly the most favorite part of the book launch as far as the kids were concerned, and it’s a given that they were going to talk about this exact moment at school the next day.

In that careful planning, each kid had experienced a moment that was identical to the moment Missy Barrett experienced in the book when she first saw Marc Hightower.

Final Note

Not every book launch or book signing can have a Double WOW Plus Factor but when the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it.   Those opportunities are few and far between without a doubt.  That being said, choreographing it down to the last detail will leave a lasting impression with your audience.  It could even prove to be a pivotal moment in time for some.

In the end, what you want is for your event to be memorable in the best way possible.  It will definitely require a great deal of time and effort, but in the end, it will be worth everything you invested.

Elyse Bruce

Countdown To Launch

This weekend, I’m putting the finishing touches to the upcoming Missy Barrett Adventures book launch, and while the process has been labor intensive, the event is going to be well worth the time and effort.

The Venue

Ask ten authors where book launches should take place, and most of them will insist on either a book store or a library.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a book launch at either of those locations so please don’t misunderstand me when I say that an author shouldn’t feel constrained to just a book store or a library.  I’m saying that thinking outside the box and going with some place other than a book store or library is also the correct answer to that question.

Missy Barrett’s most recent adventure is titled, “Barnstormin‘” so it’s fitting to have the book launch at the local airport.  Thanks to Emily Haun and her staff at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, the venue is going to be awesome including the Airplane Viewing Lounge where kids will be able to look out onto the runway where planes land and take off.

The WOW Factor

Everyone likes to think they have the WOW Factor nailed down for their book launch.  Some do, and some don’t.  Take some time to ask yourself, “What would my fans love to find at this book launch that ties in with the book’s theme?”  When you answer that question, you have your WOW factor figured out.

With “Barnstormin’” the WOW factor is the Book of Letters.  In the Book of Letters, various real life aviation industry people sent Missy Barrett a letter to welcome her to the world of aviation.  The Book of Letters has some interesting letters in it from airlines and aircraft manufacturers, pilots and aviation colleges, and more.

The WOW Plus Factor

Not every book launch can have a WOW Plus Factor but when you have a book launch with a Wow Plus Factor, the event becomes truly memorable for attendees.  This book launch has an amazing WOW Plus Factor:  Missy Barrett has been made an honorary National Air Transportation Association member by N.A.T.A. (complete with an Official Certificate) and I can’t begin to imagine a bigger WOW Plus Factor than this!

Goodie Bags

Every great party has goodie bags, and this party is no different.   Because Missy Barrett is a fictional 9-year-old and because her fan base is primarily young readers, the goodie bags are age appropriate and Missy Barrett themed.  Because Missy believes that anything can be an adventure if you make up your mind for it to be an adventure, and because Missy understands that every dream come true starts with a good plan and loads of imagination, the items found in the goodie bag support this idea.

The goodie bags for this event have neat items in them from Envoy Airlines, the Hard Rock Café – Pigeon Forge, NATA (National Air Transporation Association), Preferred Pharmacy, the Tennessee State Bank, Western Michigan University: College of Aviation, and WonderWorks – Pigeon Forge.

Door Prizes

And what’s a great party without door prizes?  While the goodie bags have to do with imagination and plans, the door prizes have to do with some of the places the story takes Missy Barrett, her grandfather, and biplane pilot, Marc Hightower (a real life pilot who really fly a biplane).

The door prizes are from the Comedy Barn, the Hard Rock Café – Pigeon Forge, Thomas D. Taylor, Shear Madness Beauty and Beyond, Smith Family Morning Variety Show, Smoky Mountain Opry, the Tennessee State Bank, and WonderWorks – Pigeon Forge.

Online Fun

It’s amazing how many authors forget the importance of having fun, especially on social media, when it comes to getting the word out about a book launch.  Missy Barrett has her own social media (even though she’s a fictional character) and rather than blasting out the same message about the upcoming book launch every day, I made the character approach the event the way any child her age would.

She tweeted airlines about her adventure.  One airline tweeted back using the hashtag #PossibleFuturePilot, which was incorporated in a number of Missy’s tweets.  Four airlines carried on abbreviated but humorous exchanges with Missy on Twitter.  It wasn’t long before others joined in on the fun.

Over on Facebook, Missy Barrett started an event page from her Fan Page, and on the event page as well as on her Fan Page, she shared updates and breaking news (she even has her own MBBN — Missy Barrett Breaking News — logo to go with her breaking news reports).

She had regular updates on her website.   In other words, the book launch fun began with the lead up to next Tuesday’s event.  Even if online fans and followers live too far away to attend the event, they were kept in the loop, and the comments, likes, status reactions, and more added to the excitement.

Behind The Scenes

As with every event, there are people behind the scenes lending a hand where they can, and in this case, I had (and continue to have) some fantastic help.  Thanks to David Stanfill, Phil Word, and Carroll McMahan of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce as well as author Thomas D. Taylor.

Final Note

This takes me to the reason of why I do what I do, especially when it comes to putting together book launches.  You see, were it not for the people who read the books I write, there’s no reason for putting all this time and effort into orchestrating these events.  So the thank you that many authors forget to say is to the fans who buy and read the books.  They’re the reason the books are written, and they’re the reason the book launches are so much fun.

Whether you’re an author (aspiring or published) or you have one of my books (long-time fan or first time reader), book launches are meant to be a celebration.  I’m looking forward to having as much fun as possible on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the local airport with a lot of kids and their parents or chaperones.  But between now and Tuesday, I still have 50 goodie bags to finish putting together.

Elyse Bruce

Abusing the DMCA Take Down Notice Process

DISCLAIMER:  This blog article does not constitute legal advice, and is not to be taken as legal advice.  In all matters of a legal nature, discuss these matters directly with an attorney or solicitor licensed to practice law in your community.

Over the past three to four weeks, a self-proclaimed leading UK autism campaigner has been caught in a controversy of his own making.  He has stated for years that he doesn’t believe that vaccines cause autism.

A few months back, he became one of a number of Admins for a popular anti-vaxx Facebook page where the members believe that vaccines cause autism.  He was made an Admin in part because of his social media friendship with the founder of the group (who also runs an autism organization), and in part because he began to support their views.

He also promoted the Andrew Wakefield movie “Vaxxed” which claims that vaccines cause autism, and purports that the CDC is involved in some sort of conspiracy.

He posted three videos to the group in June stating that no one was going to “bully” him into quitting as an Admin of the group.  Another video was posted the previous month promoting his own 20-minute movie about being bullied at age 10 that was to be filmed over 6 days in August (which is now being filmed over three months from August through to October).

But was this UK autism campaigner being bullied on social media as he claimed?

What was going on is that other vocal autism advocates were asking questions, and his response to them was to threaten to sue them for asking those questions.  So some of those vocal autism advocates made videos that showed the disparity in what this autism campaigner had said.

This past week, the autism campaigner has been filing DMCA takedown notices claiming copyright infringement because the videos provide actual proof of what he said in different videos.  He has then posted screenshots from YouTube, stating that any more “copyright infringement” will result in the offender’s YouTube channel being suspended.

YouTube DMCA
Unfortunately, the autism campaigner doesn’t seem to have an understanding of what is and isn’t allowed by the Copyright Acts in various countries, including his own country.

Regardless of what country’s Copyright Act is being discussed, they all include a “fair use” clause that allows portions of a copyright to be used for the purposes of criticism, news reporting, teaching, or parody.  This clause allows people to reproduce, distribute, and exhibit  specific portions of copyrighted materials without authorization of the copyright holder(s) and protected from prosecution for copyright infringement.

Fair Use Clause
When uploading written or recorded works or commentary to the Internet, it’s important to note that having a portion of what you have written or recorded used in a derivative work that’s covered by the “fair use” clause isn’t what DMCA take down notices are meant to address.

For those autism advocates who have received DMCA take down notices on YouTube for your videos covered by the “fair use” clause in the Copyright Act, simply reply to the notice by stating you have followed what is outlined in the “fair use” clause.  The strike against your account will be removed, and your video will be available for viewing once again.

Elyse Bruce

OTHER INTERESTING ARTICLES

5 Arguments Against Buying Followers
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/5-arguments-against-buying-followers/

A Case Study: Fake Followers Can Break You
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/a-case-study-fake-followers-can-break-you/

More On Fake Followers
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/more-on-fake-followers/

When Bullies Fake Follow Themselves
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/when-bullies-fake-follow-themselves/

Breaking Down the (DMCA) Takedown
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/breaking-down-the-dmca-takedown/

 

Internet Mudslingers

DISCLAIMER:  This blog article does not constitute legal advice, and is not to be taken as legal advice.  In all matters of a legal nature, discuss these matters directly with an attorney or solicitor licensed to practice law in your community.

The Internet seems to be a sort of virtual Wild West with mudslingers shooting at will and digital sheriffs being stretched in their efforts to keep the law in the land of the nebulous cloud and the seamless source.  The future of the Internet is uncharted when it comes to these mudslingers and their posses.

Doxing is when someone’s personal information is published on the Internet and contacting employers and/or businesses employing that person is made to defame, libel, or slander the person.

It’s an approach that, while unethical, isn’t always actionable.  When the information shared is publicly available information, the intent of posting the information determines whether it’s actionable.

Publicly available information

For example, information that’s in the phone book isn’t doxing if it’s republished.  If you don’t want that information made available, then you have to take steps to protect your information.

Lessen your digital footprint

Contact all businesses and organizations that might have your personal information publicly available, and request that the information no longer be made available.  In some cases, this means you will have to provide alternate contact information.

Each time you play a game or answer a quiz online that requires you to give consent to a third-party accessing your information, you’re leaving yourself open to your information being spread far and wide.   Every time you post on consumer feedback sites, search engines crawling the Internet will catalogue your comments and reviews even if you go back and delete those comments and reviews at a later date.  Those cookies that you agree to when you visit a website or blog?  Those cookies are mining your data with your consent.

Bottom line?  Use the Internet with the “buyer beware” caveat at the forefront of your interactions, and where possible, try to erase your digital footprint to date.

Alternate contact information

Instead of having your physical home address listed, provide a mailbox address instead.  Instead of having your personal phone number listed, provide a cellphone number that isn’t connected to your physical home address.  Of course, when it comes to government forms, you’ll still have to provide them with your physical home address but most government forms allow users to include alternate contact information where you can be contacted.

Doxing is illegal

Actually, it isn’t necessarily illegal, although it can be.

People consent to doxing

Technically speaking, each time you have allowed your private information to be published, you are consenting to have it republished elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a phone book or a membership directory or anywhere else on and off the Internet.

When it comes to websites, sometimes the Terms Of Service are such that you don’t even realize you are surrendering more than you thought.  Some Terms of Service state clearly that your information is sold to third-parties.  When’s the last time you took the time to read the Terms of Service of a website you visit?

Each time you have registered for an account on a website – whether it’s a free or paid account — you are providing the website with your private information.  Some of that information is information you knowingly provide, and some of that information is information you have consented to provide by agreeing to use the website.

Watch the free stuff

Even those great free or discounted offers leave you open to providing more personal information than you might otherwise provide.  Have you ever answered a small survey for a fast food restaurant so you can get something for free the next time you visit?  You give up a lot of information in exchange for that free good item.

Most of the small surveys automatically opt you into databases and you probably don’t realize you’ve opted into those databases.

Reputable businesses don’t do that

Except that reputable businesses usually do exactly that:  They gather your personal information with permission and then they share that information with other companies.  When you register a product or file a product’s warranty with the manufacturer, you’ve agreed to have the company not only contact you in the future, but to sell your information to third parties.  Surprise!

Last but not least

The use of P2P networks is one that’s been discussed on this blog a number of times.  I don’t condone illegal downloads.

Networks rely on connections between computers.  They don’t make a pit-stop at a server where the information is stored.  Networks open the uploader and downloader to each other which is implied consent to make personal information available to each other.

Final Note

Doxing seems to be the wave of unethical angry people with a bent on wreaking revenge for some real or perceived slight.  As much as possible, don’t give such people a foothold into your life.

Keep your own business website and/or blog as dox free as possible, and remove attempts by commenters to post toxicly on your sites.

In a nutshell, posting publicly available information isn’t illegal per se, but if it’s protected information, the charge could wind up being one of identity theft or criminal harassment or stalking.

Elyse Bruce

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