Sunday, April 10, 2011

Faster Not Always Better

Social networking and instantaneous and continuous news reporting have become so much a part of the landscape that even the most insignificant and trivial happenings get reported worldwide as important breaking news. Be it the police chasing a DUI driver on a Hollywood freeway or a robbery of a McDonalds in Fargo, we see it live on TV and on the Internet. For sure there are important news items that we need to know in a timely manner, but the ease of worldwide instantaneous distribution has provided proof that the old adage “Engage Brain Before Opening Mouth.” is truer now than ever before.

In the past since, there was a delay from the time a story came to light and the time it was reported on air or in print, there was most often sufficient time for getting the facts. Today because of the ravenous appetite of the 24/7 news services there is pressure to release a story as quickly as possible and fill in the details later.

Just recently there was a news report circulating on the Internet that Samsung, a major electronics manufacturer, was installing on their new line of laptop computers a software program that captured and transmitted back to Samsung all of the keystrokes made on that machine by the user. This type of software has been used by hackers to gather personal information from unsuspecting users. The nefarious software usually gets into a computer that has weak or non existent virus protection. For Samsung to have been accused of installing this software in the computers they were manufacturing and selling was really news. It was really bad news for Samsung as spying on customers could be devastating and not really conducive for increasing sales or improving a corporate image.

This report made the rounds on the Internet and was picked up by many individuals and forwarded in tweets and Facebook postings. As the saying goes, “It went viral.” All of this took only minutes to circulate. Within hours Samsung released an explanation that the company had not installed this spyware and that it was a very popular virus scanning program from GFI, a company with no affiliation with Samsung, that was indicating a “false positive” warning. GFI admitted this error in short order.

In the past this story would have never been released in the first place as the explanation would have been available before the newspaper article was printed or the TV and Radio news report produced. Not so in the Internet age.

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