"Some of Britain's biggest firms were last night accused of 'spying' ...after they admitted 'listening in' on disgruntled conversations on the internet. The companies include BT, which uses specially developed software to scan for negative comments about it on websites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The firms claim there is nothing sinister about the practice… but privacy campaigners have accused them of 'outright spying'..."
This story, and the moral outrage at the heart of it, is of course an utter nonsense - aimed at hijacking the irrational fears of a tiny minority of people who neither know nor care what Twitter and Facebook are but think they should probably be scared nonetheless... just in case.
The report even admits its source is only "one disgruntled customer" - who either took, or rather conveniently feigned, offence at being contacted by BT after complaining about the company on Facebook.
What the Mail doesn't tell us is who the anonymous source is. So for all we know it is a close family member of a Daily Mail reporter, or even a Mail staffer helping a colleague to further the paper's rather comical campaign against the evils of the internet.
Granted, the rent-a-quote privacy campaigners add a veneer of credibility but a national newspaper will always find somebody willing to support a story - even when there really isn't one.The reaction from some of the Mail's readers is predictable:
"When will action be taken to ensure that BT doesn't do this again?"
Do what exactly? Listen to customer complaints? Respond to the same?
"Big brother is here."
Yeah, he's over there, hiding behind the idiots and conspiracy theorists.But many more have pointed out the obvious: if customers post complaints on a public forum and companies then respond to see if they can help, that's actually a good thing. But if consumers do want their comments to be private they should either keep them so, or not sign up for social networking sites.