Jodie Hudson is a student in the United Kingdom whose family owns an $8 million home in Spain. Her mother allowed her to have a 16th-birthday party at their Marbella getaway, I suppose in a vainglorious attempt to recreate the elaborate soires of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16. The party itself was not enough, though, and the mischievous teen posted a number of pictures on her Bebo profile, along with a fictional story involving alcohol and drug use, rampant sex, the house getting trashed, and the cops arriving.
The Transparent Society picked up on the scandalous “affair” as no less than six British newspapers published photos and recounted the story. Of course, it was all a lie, and now her mother, Amanda Hudson, is suing the newspapers. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of blame to lay on all sides.
For the same reason that I’ve deleted all of my social networking accounts, Jodie Hudson needs to realize that anything you post on the Internet can become a matter of public record, whether you take steps to guard it or not (somebody else who has access to your private profile can post your content publicly). And with Google cache and the Wayback Machine, it can become a permanent record on the Internet. That information can be there for all future employers, partners, lovers, whoever, to find.
Amanda Hudson needs to take control of her daughter’s mischievous Internet use. Technology is value neutral. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and a lot of bad, and the Internet is no place for underage kids to be frolicking unattended. Don’t expect the government to do your work for you. The Internet transcends all national boundaries and laws.
The newspapers need to get their act together. First of all, is this story really news? To my knowledge, Jodie Hudson was not a public figure. Why were they reporting on the personal travails of a private citizen? Second, this incident illustrates the utter lack of standards on the part of the meainstream media. Just recently a doctored photograph of an Iranian missile test was circulated by major news outlets before some members of the blogosphere blew the whistle. Increasingly, the mainstream media is becoming dependent on the Internet for news and fact checking. Get your act together! Do you job! There’s plenty of real news out there; you shouldn’t be getting it from social networking sites.