Andrews provides a cogent explanation of what happens when we post something--anything--on social media sites. It gives one pause. She reviews the history of the right to privacy and U.S. courts' support of this constitutional right. Then she looks at how social media runs right over all these rights, as we opt-in and give away all sorts of personal data that can and will be used against us.
Andrews details horror stories of how innocent photos posted on Facebook have led to loss of jobs, careers, child custody, and more. Frankly, most of us have heard these stories, or similar. What's most interesting to me is Andrews's discussion of data aggregators, the people and businesses that collect all our clicks, searches, time spent on a page, answers to surveys, "likes," and merchandise orders to paint a portrait of us for marketers. Behavioral targeting is especially frightening, as it explicitly attempts to control and direct our online behavior based on our behavior in the past. Advertising has always tried to do this, but advertisers have never known as much about us and our responses as they do now.
My behavior online makes me a target . . . for grammar notes, jokes, and fun. My attention to things like the debatable loss of the comma in the compound sentence that is Andrews's title makes people share things like this with me:
That image illustrates how a comma can intervene between a transitive verb and its direct object, making the object into an object of direct address. Without the comma, you are protecting baby seals.
With the comma, you're talking right to the rad little ravers.
My good pal Lynn Yang posted it to my Facebook wall, and I shared it with my friends there. It spread like wildfire, and now everybody knows. Commas matter. To me.
I'm not sure how that can be used in a court of law, but Andrews's calls for clearer, more forceful regulations and even a "constitution" for our digital nation sound better and better. Almost as good as that sound system at the baby seals' rave.
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Ellen Scordato has 25 years' book publishing experience as an editor, copy editor, proofreader, and managing editor. She's now a partner in The Stonesong Press, a nonfiction book producer and agency. In addition to her work at Stonesong, Ellen has taught grammar, punctuation, and style at the New School for more than 12 years in the English Language Studies department and taught English as a Second Language at Cabrini Immigrant Services and the College of Mount Saint Vincent Language Institute.
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