Written in stone

Hillsborough monument

After 27 years of constant fighting and torment, the families of the victims of Hillsborough were finally granted some amount of peace.

A court of law finally put to an end the twisted narrative that had done so much damage to the memories of those 96 football fans. The truth that has finally emerged has painted a picture of a worrying culture of arrogance and pure incompetence amongst South Yorkshire Police’s leadership.

When faced with their own incompetence and negligence, the leadership of South Yorkshire Police went on the offensive, briefing and leaking to both the press and the government a narrative of the day that placed the blame firmly on the supporters.

In spite of local reporters providing a very different version of how the events unfolded and countless eyewitness accounts, the Sun’s decision to run their notorious front page blaming supporters and backing South Yorkshire Police’s cover up. That the cover up reached the very highest levels of government truly makes this one of the darkest moments in Britain’s modern history.

In the 27 years since the tragedy, mounting evidence and further disclosures dismantled the lies and official version of the events, yet those lies printed on the front page of the Sun did enough to damage the credibility of those victims that the narrative was firmly set and long after the ink had faded, doubts and questions remained.

Forever is a long time

It’s unlikely in the digital age that such a cover up would be possible. Eyewitness accounts on twitter and Facebook plus the proliferation of camera phones provides a near instant timeline of unfolding events that is impossible to twist. In fact, if the digital age has taught us anything, it’s that the Internet never forgets; a lesson seemingly lost on so many.

The rule that you should never put anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t like to see on the front of a newspaper should be pinned on every office wall and given to every public figure – especially it seems, Members of Parliament.

The latest casualty of Internet posts coming back to haunt them is Labour MP Naz Shah who has found herself suspended from the party for posts she made on Facebook 2 years ago. It seems hardly a week goes by without an MP sending an ill-advised tweet only to perform the standard Mea Culpa the next day or, depending on the severity, claiming they were hacked.

Communication is so rapid and information collected by so many different sources, that once you publish anything to the Internet even deleting from your account makes very little difference, the minute you press publish or send or post, you’ve completely lost control.

From a business perspective it can seem so full of potential; the ability to instantly and regularly communicate to potential clients and build brand awareness with relative ease, yet it is exactly the ease and permanency of modern communication that should demand caution.

Many of the largest companies have severely stripped back their social media communication, learning from the mistakes of allowing multiple employees access to social media accounts in the interest of engagement; engagement that frequently went wrong, they now rely on dedicated teams to carefully monitor and manage their communication and have banned access outside working hours – a lesson the rest of us need to quickly learn, particularly MPs.

Tip: It’s comforting to know that when you need to discuss sensitive issues in private you can always lock your Buzz Conference call by pressing #3 on your telephone keypad.