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MySpace as a source? Everyone can see the Internet?

Recently, I came upon a news brief in the Pioneer Press about a Macy's employee that was giving extra discounts to friends, whenever they came into the store. The store manager noticed when this employee has an abnormally large amount of purchases discounted at 75 percent.

Initially, I was interested in the story because I used to work in retail. Then I kept reading. At the bottom of the story, the third to last paragraph, it reads:

In cyberspace, though, Collett lists 97 "friends" on his page at MySpace.com.

"Could always use more buddies," he wrote. "Oh, and as you can see, I'm dangerioulsy (sic) Man-Prety (sic) … you've been warned."

I did a double-take, did they really just quote a MySpace page in a large daily newspaper? Looking over the rest of the article, the reporter, David Hanners, sourced an affidavit written by John C. Bolt, a police officer, and also David Thomalla, the Maplewood police chief. He even talked to the spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney's office. There is no mention of contacting Matthrew Collett, the accused, or his lawyer. Instead, just this strange reference to Collett's MySpace page.

I found this odd for two reasons. One, at the very least, the reporter did not say that he tried to contact Collett--he very well might have, but I don't know. I only see the affadavit. And two, that the information from the MySpace page was used.

At first, this seems like an invasion of privacy, though I know it is perfectly legal, since Collett chose to put this information on the Internet. However, it still doesn't sit well with me. It is hard to validate the identity of anyone on MySpace, much less someone one needs to write a story about. Also, the information presented on MySpace is for a very different audience than for a reporter. I know it's easily accessed by the public, but it wasn't meant for that purpose.

I think it just serves as a reminder, in this share everything age, that ANYONE can see whatever you write on the internet, including this blog entry (it showed up as the second hit when I googled my name earlier). So be careful!

There may be some nosy journalist out there looking to make a fool out of you.

(And if that isn't reminder enough, check out the political cartoons from Saturday's Pioneer Press...there is another helpful reminder.)


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