Her name is Sarah Phillips, and you may have heard in passing her story in recent days. She was, until the other day, a freelance writer for ESPN. They fired her over what is being called an internet scam; essentially, she conned a number of web producers out of rights to their work.
This sounds sinister and evil, doesn’t it? But the truth is, no one really seems to understand what exactly it is that she did. Here it is in a nutshell: Using her status as an ESPN writer, she told a number of web writers who had Tumbler, Facebook, and Twitter accounts that she was starting a new page, and they turned over their account information and passwords.
Still sounds pretty shady, doesn’t it? But let’s look a bit deeper here. Here’s a statement from one of her victims:
Long story short, I never got paid and lost my Twitter account to this scumbag. As seen [here] Sarah kept making up excuses as to why I wasn’t being paid yet continually. Months went on and I lost interest in retrieving my Twitter account until I realized something crucial. (Here is where the story gets interesting)Read more in Social Networks
When I gave Sarah the Twitter account it had 2000 followers — after she got hired by ESPN it was now at about 50,000 followers. I emailed her and pretty much said — if you don’t pay me the $500 that you owe me, I will take back MY Twitter account that has accumulated over 50,000 followers. Pretty good investment for me considering 50, 000 Twitter followers is worth A LOT more than $500.
Now this is the part where I’m getting a bit confused. This is what the big fuss is over? Now bear in mind, I’m a moderately successful online publisher. Not a household name by any means, but since I started doing this in 2008 my views are comfortably into 8 figures.
That being said, I can conclusively tell you that a Twitter page with 2,000 followers simply isn’t that big of a deal. I use Facebook, Twitter, and a significant number of similar social networking sites to promote my writing, and trust me…. 2,000 followers might seem like a big number to the average person with a hundred or two followers, but in the world of online publishing? It’s nothing! So I dug a bit more, and found that most of these stories are pretty much the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not defending Sarah Phillips. What she did was wrong. She deserved to be fired, if nothing else for being stupid. Most may not realize it, but this lady had been signed by ESPN. You won’t find a better name brand in this mecca. She had the golden ticket punched, and she’s out running petty scams. It’s kind of like that old analogy that it’s not worth it for Bill Gates to bend over and pick up a hundred dollar bill, because he makes more than that in the time it would take to stop and do so. She needed to be kicked to the curb, but as much for being an idiot as what she did.
But it begs another, far more important, issue…. the issue of ethics on the web. This really is a new frontier; one that, just a few years ago, was virtually unimaginable. The evolution of the web has been an amazing and unparalleled event to witness. It’s essentially an entirely new society, with rules and enforcement being made up as we go along. In the words of Banksy, something of a counterculture icon:
“There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell it, particularly at the lower levels. You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful. All you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.”
His words ring true in this world, as well. Another quote from some guy who publishes online….
With the advent of the internet, mankind as a whole has effectively begun to control what it chooses to consume once again. As with any revolution, there is a dichotomy. With no one to dictate standards, said standards are left to be redefined. We must once again evolve. That which we choose will, as it always has, rise to the top. but we now enjoy a freedom of choice with regard to our intellectual consumption we may never see again.
(The quote is mine, actually lol, from another article)
The doctrines are being shaped today, but in the meantime, there is virtual anarchy out here. Deception is a tool I use frequently; for example, I recently published this:
Which was a fake story, and led to this:
Hell, even this article is a bit misleading; you most likely expected something far different than what you found when you clicked it. And it was intentional….. it worked. You are, after all reading this. And it does piss some people off…. far more that you realize. I’ve been called every name on the book over it, to whit I reply: Get over it. So you wasted 3 minutes of your life. If you’re clicking a link for an article on an ESPN controversy, you weren’t doing anything that damned important, anyway. And unlike the idiots we talked about earlier, I’ve got a whole lot more than 2,000 followers who seem to get the joke. If you don’t like it, hell…. don’t read it.
I guess in the end, my point is this: Judge Sarah Phillips if you feel the need… and truth be told, we all seem to feel the need to judge people…. it’s why we read crap like this…. but let’s keep things in perspective. There are terrorists and genocides running rampant in our world; as you read this article, a dozen children died of starvation. In the overall scheme of things, Sarah Phillips isn’t a villain…. just a moron.