If you’re from North America you might not have heard of Sachin Tendulkar, especially since his retirement from the glorious game of cricket, but it’s fair to say that he was rather good at batting.
If you were to combine the run-getting prowess of, say, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa into one modestly-sized fellow – Tendulkar stands just 165cm tall, or 5’5″, giving him the nickname of Little Master – you would have some sense of how plentifully he could score runs for his team.
Cricket, in case you are unaware, is a sort-of cousin of baseball, but without the ludicrous trousers, and with a more gracefully shaped playing field that allows you to hit the ball in any direction, including sideways or even backwards. The underlying aim of the game is the same: for the batter to hit the ball as far as possible, preferably into the upper tiers of the stadium where a bevy of enthusiastic spectators will trip over each other in a rush to injure their fingers while failing to catch it.
Tendulkar has more – many, many more – Twitter followers than the former baseball batting behemoths mentioned above: 17 million followers, in fact, so when he posts messages, he has huge reach and massive influence, especially in India.
So it’s surprising – perhaps disappointing is the right word – to see that Tendulkar recently tweeted the video of an advert asking you help your friends get fit…
…by giving him their phone numbers.
We’ve all got friends we’re worried about, one way or another, for example because we’d like to convince them to quit smoking, cut down on their drinking or improve their health.
Tendulkar’s tweet was no doubt well-intentioned, albeit commercially motivated: your friends might not take fitness advice from you – and why would they? – but they’d be hard-pressed to ignore a call from the Master Blaster himself!
(Remember: cricket is to India what hockey is to Canada, but much, much more so.)
Surely, getting people to think more about their personal health is a good thing?
So why has that Tweet now disappeared?
The answer is that it is never acceptable to give away other people’s personal information – even if it’s just their names and phone numbers – without their permission.
In an ideal world, therefore, there would be no point in Sachin Tendulkar asking for your friends’ phone numbers, because you wouldn’t give them out in the first place.
What to do?
We urge you to take the following approaches in your digital life:
- Don’t share your own personal information too widely by mistake. Regularly review the privacy settings you use in your apps and on your social media accounts.
- Don’t share information about your friends without asking them first. If an offer is so good you think your friends will like it, tell them about it so they can sign up for themselves. If you take a group photo to put up on Facebook, ask them if they want to be in it even before you snap the picture.
- Don’t rely on opt out when dealing with your customers. Ask them up front, so they get the chance to opt in, even if the law in your country doesn’t strictly require you to work that way.
Simply put, when it comes to personal information: respect it all!
And, by the way, a hat tip to Tendulkar and his social media team for listening to the advice of numerous security experts and removing the Tweet.