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Unclear on the Concept: People Complaining about Comcast Monitoring Social Media


The New York Times has an article today about Comcast using social media to respond to customer complaints. Comcast is definitely at the forefront of this move to engage customers out in the wild. Comcast’s efforts have previously been documented on ReadWriteWeb. New York Times coverage helps move the concept, and Twitter, closer to mainstream adoption.

What caught my eye in the NYT article is that some people are concerned about Comcast doing this. They feel like Comcast is acting like Big Brother. According to the article, 20 year-old Brandon Dilbeck blogged about his dislike of ads on Comcast’s programming guide. A Comcast representative found the post (Google blog alert perhaps?), and responded to him via email.

Hey dude! Your blog had some impact! Isn’t that cool?

Well, no. The blogger apparently thought it was weird:

Mr. Dilbeck found it all a bit creepy. “The rest of his e-mail may as well have read, ‘Big Brother is watching you,’ ” he said.

Here’s what I don’t get. Blogs are publicly available. Anyone can find a blog and comment on it. Sometimes, your blog posts result in actions you wouldn’t have expected. This is the power of Web 2.0.

If you’re going to write publicly, how on earth can you be concerned about Big Brother? Sure, if Comcast had monitored his email or phone conversations, that’d be Big Brother (and illegal).

But to air your concerns publicly and have someone from the company read it? If you’re concerned someone would actually read your post, then don’t blog. I’m actually surprised this 20 year old was concerned. The Gen Y folks are supposed to be pretty open about everything in their lives. Maybe Mel McBride is right when she made this comment on FriendFeed with regard to Facebook:

I’m just getting tired of dopes buying into the surveillance of their personal history, daily activities and personal associations as a “convenience” – wake up people.

Social media: If you write it, do it or video it, people can find it. That’s the great opportunity for all of us.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Unclear+on+the+Concept%3A+People+Complaining+about+Comcast+Monitoring+Social+Media%22&public=1

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About Hutch Carpenter
Senior Consultant for HYPE Innovation (hypeinnovation.com)

11 Responses to Unclear on the Concept: People Complaining about Comcast Monitoring Social Media

  1. mrshl says:

    Quoting McBride’s paranoid generalization is a bit of a non-sequitur. Many people on Facebook are well aware of their privacy implications, but have concluded the risks of openness are outweighed by the benefits.

    That’s very different from someone who has no idea their information is public to begin with. This dude who’s upset to find out his public blog will be read…that guy’s a dope.

    And if she assumes people don’t know how to weigh their privacy concerns, Mel McBride is a dope, too.

  2. eng1ne says:

    Interesting how people react to Comcast’s attempt to reach out through new channels.

    I have to agre with Mrshl though, there are some unknowns that need to be considered.. was the text of Comcast’s email published somewhere?

  3. Melanie says:

    “Paranoid generalisation” uh… thanks.

    I was merely commenting on the perspective of a lot of people who have serious concerns about increasing surveillance. Nothing at all to do with paranoia but my misgivings with what Facebook is all about.

    I am not a fan of Facebook. I never have been. I’m not you. No need to call me paranoid because I dislike it and because I have called attention to Facebook’s highly questionable commitments – certainly not to the user but to those with whom they trade user data. It is a business. And I don’t like who they do their business with.

  4. Melanie says:

    Additionally I never “assumed” people don’t know how to weigh their privacy concerns. I made the comment that people don’t question our culture of surveilance nearly enough.

    For example, the iphone adding location data to images is not – for people like me – a feature. It may well be for somebody else.

    It’s very easy to deride people who disagree with us online. What’s more challenging is to do so politely.

  5. mrshl – I quoted Melanie in the broader context of young people not being fully aware that what they do in social media is searchable and trackable.

    She’s not a dope – you should see her contributions to appreciate the intelligence she brings to the discussion.

  6. Phil – Comcast’s email being made public…not that I’m aware of. Maybe the guy published it?

  7. Melanie – I think you made a good point. That’s why I included it in the post!

  8. mrshl says:

    Note that I called the generalization “paranoid,” not Melanie.

    I also said, “if she assumes.” I chose my words carefully. That doesn’t mean they get read carefully.

  9. mrshl says:

    Also, I think I’m pretty polite. I don’t believe “dope” was my word.

  10. Brandon says:

    I’ll admit that I was surprised that Comcast contacted me, but I want to point out that the NYT article focused on my mention of it being creepy a bit more than I would have liked. What I want to point out the most is that Comcast did nothing to resolve the issue even after all of this.

  11. Pingback: Are you Listening? | Rob the Geek

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