Image by Rafael_cercedilla via FlickrThis past weekend I had an eye opening experience. One that I feel passionate about and one that I hope you learn from. No, I would not say it's life or death, but it may cause some problems if avoided.
If you are anything like me, then you typically peruse the Internet for the latest news and interesting finds. Right? So, here I am going through my Google Reader and when I find something of value, I pass it on. Most of the time, I just click the "Share" button or send an e-mail to individuals. Up until this weekend, everything was working as planned.
I recall one item came into my Reader and it talked about how Google hires people to work from home. I immediately thought about a few people that stay at home and in need of some extra cash. With a quick once over, I sent it on. I even shared it with all of my Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, and Google Reader friends.
It was not until this morning that I learned the Google "package" cost a couple of dollars for shipping and handling. I started scratching my head and asked to see the link I sent. With a fresh set of eyes, I knew this link was a scam. Following the link, I noticed the image quality on the site was poor, the footer contained a disclaimer that the site was not associated with Google, and they were asking for money.
For a moment, I could not believe I had been duped. Here I am looking at a scamming site and I passed it forward to thousands of people.
Not long after I realized what I had done, my sister chimed in and said the same. Unfortunately, she had already paid the $2 before she realized it. Later, a couple of readers asked me to do a better job of reading these shared items before I endorse them.
I was stunned. I made a mistake and it negatively affected others. How did this happen?
The first answer I have is that people trust me. I have spent years working in the Internet industry and building my experience. I do my best to share interesting and informative information with others by sifting through thousands of items a day. People have come to expect certain kinds of information from me. As a result, they trust me. They trust that I will not lead them astray.
Unfortunately, I slipped and sent information that was not what it seemed and I put my reputation at risk. Yes, people should always be careful, but ones guard may come down some when it relates to trusted sources.
What I have learned today is that people trust me and I have a responsibility to protect that trust. As I move forward, I will be more careful to better screen information before I send it out.
The question we must ask ourselves before we consider sending something out to the world is this material worthy of my name?
Remember, when we share or retweet something, we are essentially saying that we endorse this link or content. As a "router" of information, our positive reputation is very important if we seek to have a long career. So, I encourage you to learn from my mistake and avoid ever having to apologize.
To those who followed the link to a Google Scam site, and to those that even submitted personal information, I humbly apologize for sharing that piece of information. I hope that you will maintain your trust in me, as I seek to help and not to hurt. Moving forward, I will be more cautious about what I endorse because I value you and your trust in me.
Until next time...