Anyone who has something to say now hasaccess to media and the means to distribute his or her message. Folkshave discovered that their fifteen minutes of fame can easily beachieved through the Internet with video clips, blogs, and vlogs(a blog that contains video). User-generated content opens the door tonew opportunities. We can learn about a day in the life of a soldier atwar, showing first hand what we have only been able to see in themovies. "Lookie loos" (or casual observers) now record events happeningin real time using only their cell phones, thus becoming amateur journalists. People are demonstrating their unique talents, effectively becoming cyber rock starsand, in some cases, getting the attention of the “industry.” Storiesabout real life seem to fascinate people; the more controversial,salacious, or bizarre – the more interesting to the audience. And ofcourse, with mass interest comes new opportunity for online marketing.
But how do we know what we are seeing is real? With user-generated content, people can create any reality they want. Lonelygirl15,is it real or a well scripted, well acted work of fiction? The beloved,yet fictitious, Bree created a huge fan base because many hoped she wasreal. Weeping Willow,in a November episode of Law and Order, showed how easily eager fanscan be duped into believing. Both the Bree and Weeping Willow vlogcreations were fake and were examples of well crafted socialengineering. The viewers of the vlogs were tricked into believing thepeople in the vlogs were real and, in the latter case, in danger. Theviewers had a vested interest in the lives of these online personas.
Now, I know vlogging is about expressing yourself! The more creativethe vlog, the better, right? But there is a difference between creativeexpression and misleading your viewers, especially if the vlog is beingdisingenuous to serve a malevolent purpose.
Internet stories can be distributed through rich media to servesurreptitious purposes yet appear to provide value to the Internetcommunity; this includes experiences focused on Internet security. Ifwe can’t trust Bree, why are we so ready to believe in the authenticityof the Internet security information? If people aren’t who they saythey are, what does that say for the user-generated content or applications that can be found online?
This leads me to the question of betrayal. Is omission of truth inthe online world any less of a betrayal than in the “real world”? Howwill this trend of virtual life affect our feelings of being safeonline? Not only do we need to fear direct attacks against ourconfidential data, we now need to think twice about believing in thedigital identities who are marketing to us.