An eWolf in sheeps clothing?

In every case I’ve seen, organisations and brands adopt Social Media for marketing purposes. They are not there to save the world, they are there to promote their brand and leverage their brand value. The nexus of people, process and technology has a purpose. Brands are learning to be social, but  surveillance and deception can be achieved with no responsibility or code of ethics. Your IP (Internet Protocol) address is easily traceable to your ISP (Internet Service Provider), so there’s a good chance you are by not a profiled as Daniel Craig. More and more studies are showing that internet users do not engage with conventional online ads – and of course social media is largely seen as ‘free’ advertising space – where the big, best, most, 20 things … type working is now the look@me norm.

A popular story ran on May 9, 2008 on about a 13 year old boy who stole his Dad’s credit card and ordered two hookers with it, only to be convicted of fraud and given a three year community order. This story was so popular, it reached the front page of Digg. It was also covered in other leading social media sites, as well as several online publications, resulting in 6,000 links to the article.

Well, it turns out the story was a fake. The writer, Lyndon Antcliff, says that he tried to make it as ludicrous as possible so its fakeness would be obvious.

The irony is that while it would seem that technology enhances transparency, in many ways it does the opposite – allowing for masked realities, alternate identities, fabricated histories. Given that children are clearly targeted online (the subject and the bait to draw traffic) – by close association teachers are also both targets and bait. (Because those selling something believe they have access and influence over children and purchasing).

How does anyone unfamiliar with social-media based educational discourse tell the eWolf from the lamb?

Should suppliers of goods and services be considering a deception policy? – something which explains how they ensure their commercial interests are well declared – and should an employee engage in deceptive activities (promotion disguised as advocacy) – what happens for example?