Newspaper Reporters Plumb New Depths

I've long held the view that Facebook is a car crash waiting to happen for most individuals. It is a minefield of potential embarrassing and career ending entries and posts, perhaps typed in a moment of carefree exuberance but the consequences may last a very long time. Once circulated on the web, it cannot be deleted. Incidents resulting from "fun,"entries on Facebook are legion, not to mention those who have inadvertently ruined job opportunities, relationships and friendships by the liberal use of the keyboard in the heat of the moment. At least you can tear letters up after a moments reflection before you post them. Indeed, I fully intend to be the last man standing without a Facebook account and refuse to subject all of my 5 friends, three of whom have four legs, to my inane musings over Facebook. They can check in here if they wish.

Why? Well, you may as well post your thoughts on the electronic billboards at Piccadilly Circus for all the confidentiality you are assured, no matter what your privacy settings may be. Why take the risk?

Nonetheless, it remains the principal means of communication for youngsters and indeed it has a number of advantages. It is cheap, easy to circulate news amongst their circle of chums, (although why they all seem to have hundreds of so called friends is quite beyond me), and an easy way of circulating updates for school work, school and club sport and so on. It clearly though, harbours a number of menacing threats. Quite apart from the intentionally addictive nature of the thing there are some rather unsavoury characters lurking in the digital shadows.

I recently became aware of an incident at a school in the wider area and of that incident I have no particular view. I was appalled though, not to say outraged to discover that hairy old Fleet Street hacks have been trawling the Facebook pages of children as young as 13 in order to dig up material which they can exploit to bolster their collapsing circulation, and you can interpret that in any way you so wish. I see no difference in these reptiles scrolling through private conversations between kids than I do them rifling through their private diaries, drawers and letters. 

Of course kids, and everyone else for that matter, should never put anything in the least bit sensitive in electronic form and always have their privacy settings set to the maximum possible. The lack of diligence by kids however, does not excuse cynical adults exploiting their lack of care and attention for financial advancement either on behalf of their proprietor or themselves. There is no difference whatsoever between this behaviour and the thief who offers the defence, "the door was open so I walked in and helped myself."

Hiding behind their Freedom of the Press banner these big boys go under the tag, "A Daily Mail Staff Reporter;" cowards. They won't be so big and brave if they come across parents. If they're lucky they might bump into the odd father; if mothers ever get a hold of them they'll be eviscerated.

Politicians, celebs and premiership footballers scream from the rafters if their privacy is invaded. They will readily set free the litigation attack dogs of firms like Schillings, Mishcon de Reya and Herbert Smith to hold back intrusion by Fleet Street. Who though, stands to protect our kids? There isn't one of us who didn't say or do something indiscreet in our teenage years but without permanent stain on our young reputations; why therefore, are we absenting ourselves from our duty of care for this generation and not corralling unscrupulous reporters and their editors into a corner and forcing them by threat of severe sanction into leaving minors alone. 

It's a disgrace and way beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour commensurate with a civilised and decent society.