Finding information used to be a rigorous trek – students went to the library, looked up the book catalog, climbed the stairs and used the Dewey decimal system to find the book, the very source, the answer to their question. Today, we simply use Google as a starting search engine to answer our deep and silly questions. The search for knowledge is available in our palms, what a sensation! However, the credibility is not always consistent. Freedom of speech has a impressive presence on the internet.
While knowledge is available at our fingertips with ease, we also face the challenge of maintaining ethical standpoints when expressing ourselves on the internet. There are ways to keep yourself from stealing information or “accidentally” stating the same thing four other people might have already said. Here are some quick tips on how to not get sued:
- Respect the privacy of people – too often have I seen people post private details about other people without their permission. This is considered an invasion of privacy and you can land yourself a nice lawsuit.
- Be chill, don’t defame anyone – sure, we have our moments where we just don’t get along with this one person, but it is not cool to publicly and falsely tell the internet world lies about this one person you might be disliking.
- Recognize the rights of intellectual property – While you are writing clever and witty things online, chances are you might have “borrowed” the thought from someone else. Do them a favor and give them recognition for their intellectual property. Beware of trademark words and copyrighted brands!
- Look into licensing your work – Sometimes we publish work online that we are extremely proud of. Find ways to protect your work and gain credibility for it!
- Check out Creative Commons‘ network – While we may publish original thought and creativity, sometimes we need to collaborate someone else’s work to boost our work’s wow factor. Creative Commons allows for us to find other work and safely use the work without risking lawsuit.
Publishing your creative thoughts and ideas online is as easy as ABC, however be sure to protect yourself! There are several traps you can easily fall into if you do not apply practical ethics to your internet surfing adventures.