Tag Archives: privacy

When Free Speech/Privacy Advocates Lose Their Mind

As some of you know, I play an online game on a site called Empire Avenue. I’ve written about it a couple of times, and if you know nothing about it check out the link above.

Facebook: The privacy saga continues
opensource.com via Compfight

This post isn’t really about Empire Avenue, but it plays prominently in this tale, a cautionary tale for all of you who want the cake of freedom of speech and the ability to eat your rights to privacy at the same time. How ugly will this tale end? Stick around…

Empire Avenue has a number of communities where people can get together to discuss all kinds of stuff. I joined a few early on in the game, never liked them much because it didn’t seem anyone had anything to say, and never joined one again.

However, a friend of mine sent me a link to one of the general communities of people who are considered leaders on the site because she wanted me to check something out. Seems there was some general fighting going on about some of the processes in the background of the game that she wanted me to see.

In the middle of it all was this guy, whose name (fake or real) I’m not going to mention, nor his blog, links, Twitter page, etc, because I don’t want to get in the middle of it all; you’ll see why as I get through this story.

Anyway, this guy seemed to be completely out of control. He came into this particular discussion with a chip on his shoulder for some reason and began personally attacking people. He actually came to the defense of someone I’m not even sure he really knows because of something that was said in a Facebook group, and on that one and only point I agreed with him on.

However, he went too far and started calling out anyone he could think of who’s a major player in the game (which is why I’m never mentioned lol) in this forum. And if it had stayed there things might have died down.

But you know that’s not how this story goes. Turned out the guy has a blog on WordPress.com and he started ranting and writing these tomes about the evils of Empire Avenue and naming names and quoting people and pasting images of conversations from the community forum that, in essence, was a major violation of people’s privacy, especially since many of those people had nothing to do with the initial conversation and, in his “wisdom”, he decided to call out those who attempted to call for peace; sigh…

If it's on the Internet, it isn't private.
DonkeyHotey via Compfight

One of the reasons this guy thought he could get away with all this abhorrent behavior is because he went behind a fake name; actually, two fake names, one of those being a deceased actor/comedian. So he went nuts, saying all this stuff about everyone he could think of, posting their images and the like, and boosting it all via his Twitter account as well. He became the Empire Avenue troll; there’s a nice business gift.

And he proclaimed his right to free speech when some of those people complained about his putting their names on his blog and posting them on Twitter, and said that anything on Empire Avenue was his to use as he wished.

However, he started to dislike some of the backlash he started getting on Twitter, and at this point he put out a cease and desist… on Twitter? On Twitter, if you don’t want to see something you just block people, but that wasn’t enough for him. He didn’t want them writing anything about him at all, so he put out a cease and desist against everyone who was against him, and he wrote about it on his blog.

And he started sending letters to Empire Avenue, state and federal agencies in the United States and Canada (where EA resides), and in one instance even called the employer of one of the people he had a beef with to say this guy was harassing him online; wow!

But he made some mistakes. See, what most people don’t realize is that if they’ve been on social media for any amount of time they’ve built up a trail that someone with motivation can follow and find out a lot about that person. Who would have more motivation than a guy who had his job threatened by a lunatic? For that matter who would have more motivation because they’d been called out on a lunatic’s blog?

You guessed it; they found out who he was. They got his name, where he went to school, pictures of what he really looked like, his age, pictures of his children (yup, this guy has kids, adult kids, but the folks had some morals and didn’t post pictures of his kids online). And after people talked with each other to confirm that they all had the same information…

They posted it all on Google Plus. Then they put the link out on Facebook and Twitter so anyone who was connected to some of these folks (or in the Facebook group for EA, which I’m a member of) could see it.

Of course I went to read it all. Fascinating stuff, especially the part about being 43 years old and living in the basement of his mother’s house because he has no real job right now. Seems that’s why he has so much time to troll all these EA members.

You know what happened next… part of it anyway. He went off, saying he was going to file a lawsuit against EA for giving out his personal information, and then lawsuits against all these people for violating his privacy. But he also smartened up… slightly. He went back to all those images he’d posted and started blacking out names that weren’t blacked out previously. He also started going back to remove some names from posts he’d written; y’all know it’s too late for that because everyone he named has copies of it all.

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This post needed some cute

At this point he hasn’t backed off, and in an amazing move is actually showing EA shutting him down for his bad behavior, which he can’t see, while still complaining about everyone else violating his privacy, and admitting openly that not only is his name fake (folks can use fake names) but that his “business” information is also fake (folks aren’t allowed to do that part, but since he owned up to it he violated the terms of service), and is thus banned for good.

What’s this story about? Consequences. Many times I’ve written on this blog about consequences for actions and how people need to protect themselves online.

There was a recent news story about a guy who visited some Instagram pages of people who lived in his area that he’d never met, and then he went out and found these people in places they said they congregated, talked to them as if he knew them and told them all kinds of stuff that they thought was private, and only after shocking them with what he knew finally telling them how he’d found it all out (it was all recorded on video). They were all both amazed and shocked because it never occurred to them just how much of themselves they were giving out; lesson learned.

I’ve talked about the topic of controversy and, if you decide to go this route, how it can backfire on you if you’re not prepared for it, and how you want to choose your language carefully if you do decide to take on a subject you know some folks aren’t going to react well to.

I’ve also talked often about privacy, the lack thereof, and how if you’re not going to protect your own privacy all that well that you owe something greater, a major responsibility to your family and friends because most of them probably didn’t ask to be brought into the sphere of social media. That these folks found out about this guy’s kids, with pictures and everything, and his mother, his mother’s house, et al… for a guy talking so much about protecting his privacy he didn’t do a good job of it.

Social media isn’t something anyone should be scared of. But everyone needs to know the inherent dangers of what can happen. On my business blog I’ve talked about the dangers of thinking everyone you work with is your friend and how those folks more often than not will throw you under the bus to save their own skin. It’s like that.

Just two weeks ago two high school girls did two videos on YouTube that were racist against people in their school and community. Now they’ve had to leave school and will be home schooled, even after apologizing, because their safely can’t be guaranteed and the school was suspending them anyway.

Let me spell these lessons out:

* Don’t be stupid online

* Don’t think you can have total privacy online

* Don’t call anyone out unless you’re ready to deal with it

* Don’t think your freedom of speech trumps anyone else’s freedom of speech

* Don’t start none, won’t be none

Anyone disagree with anything I’ve said here? By the way, notice I didn’t mention any names, didn’t link to anything, so only a few people on EA, none of whom read this blog, could ever even figure out who I was talking about. So, if this person finds out about this post & has anything to say… it wasn’t me who violated anyone’s privacy… right? 😉
 

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Social Media And Your Familial Obligations

Although I’ve asked, it’s rare that I actually have someone write me to ask me to give my opinion on something. So this is a special treat, and it comes from our friend Brian Hawkins who asked me to address the topic of whether people should be taking more consideration of their family members when it comes to social media.

It’s an interesting question in this day and age when most of us are at least talking about our worries about privacy, when in essence there’s very little privacy left. Of course, anything we do pretty much means we give away information freely, whether the entity that ends up with it was who we gave it to. But what about our family members?

In almost 1,300 posts (I’ll reach that this week), I’ve mentioned my wife’s name 4 times, and two of those times it was in highlighting her website Li’l Specs. I also only have 6 pictures that include her. I have some other pictures on the blog, few few though, of other family members that I’ve never identified, other than my dad, so in a way I’ve protected their privacy since I know none of them reads my blogs (do family members ever read our stuff?).

On Facebook I only have two pictures of my wife, and I have none on Google+. I do have pictures of my parents, though not many, but since my dad and grandmother are no longer with us I don’t think they’re so worried about their privacy. And I’ve put up some pictures of cousins and other family members, but haven’t come out and identified them as relatives until they did so themselves.

In essence, I’ve been relatively perspicacious in protecting the privacy of my family; what they do for themselves is another matter, but I’m not responsible for that.

I think it’s important to not only protect the privacy of one’s family, unless they okay it, but it’s also important to protect the dignity of one’s family through social media, whether they’re a part of it or not. Have you noticed that whenever someone gets outed on Facebook for doing something stupid or putting up something stupid that it embarrasses the family as much as the person? I was brought up to always protect the Mitchell name and to not embarrass the family, and I’ve worked hard to do just that very thing and still be an individual.

Whereas I don’t expect everyone to think as I do and do as I do, I always try to tell people that their bad behavior doesn’t only affect them. People who bully and are eventually outed impact the entire family. People who commit crimes puts the family at risk, often making them move for no reason other than the hate they now have to share for something their family members did willingly.

Of course there’s always the issue of very close family members and whether they should be connected with each other in social media circles. As much as I’d love my family members to read my blogs, I know quite a few people who write personal blogs that would be appalled if their family members knew they even had a blog. That’s a tough one to get beyond, though not for me.

I know of parents who want to connect with their kids social media accounts so they can see what it is they’re doing. I also know of parents who don’t want to connect with their adult children who do because they’re made to feel guilty if they don’t.

Personally, I’ve never had to deal with this, but it begs the question as to how I’d feel if my mother was connected to my account on Facebook. I can truthfully say this; I’d probably have to delete a bunch of stuff that other people post that shows up on my page because, as I’ve said a few times here, I’ve never seen a movie rated higher than PG with my mother, and never a movie I hadn’t seen beforehand. I’m often stunned at the language family members use with each other, and some of the things one will put up, either child or parent, knowing that the other is connected and will see it.

As I said earlier, I think it’s important to protect one’s family on social media because you never know what someone else might do with that information, no matter what it is. But it’s also a decision one has to make based on how their family handles such matters. Social media really is a great responsibility, as much as it’s a place to have fun and make a lot of connections. Just think about it, and be careful.
 

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Talking Privacy – Part Two

A year and a half ago I asked the question Do We Deserve Privacy Online? I took on the issue after reading a news story that basically said privacy is gone and we should get over it.

mozilla privacy cupcakes! DSC_6407.JPG
Roland Tanglao
via Compfight

At the time I had mixed feelings about the issue, and I find myself 18 months later still having mixed feelings about it. I’m taking it on again after reading a post by a guy that called himself Blog Bloke titled Social Media Profiling: Is Our Privacy Under Siege? His gripe is with the new Google+ site and some of the information they’re requiring to participate in the process. In particular, he’s against their rule which says one can’t use avatars, instead saying people have to use pictures of themselves.

For those of you who aren’t going to go check out his post or his blog, Blog Bloke is definitely a throwback to the old days of not trusting anyone; I doubt he’d disagree with this. Privacy is a major thing with him, and he doesn’t want his image out on the internet in any way. This is a right everyone has by the way, and I’m certainly not going to beat him up for that. As a matter of fact, he’s pretty much made his avatar his trademark, and many people know exactly who he is once they see that; kind of like Dennis and his magic DE logo.

Do I understand his position on privacy? Yes. Do I fully support it? Mixed feelings. Do I have things I don’t want to share? Absolutely. Do I use those things that require information I don’t feel like sharing? Nope; I just go on about my business.

Why did I bring that stuff up? If you check his post you’ll see I commented on it and I said there’s no obligation for any of us to participate in social media services whose policies we don’t support; social media is a right, not a privilege. That’s why I don’t play many games on Facebook, and why I’ve downloaded very few apps onto my smartphone, because I don’t feel like giving up some of my information so it can be sold to someone else. His position is that it is pretty much a right and that these companies (Google, Facebook, etc) really don’t have a right to ask us for any of it.

I’ll attempt to make my position clear here and see where you fall into things. He has a blog and gets to set his rules. I have a blog and get to set my rules. We’re both part of social media; so are all of you. I’ve decided on my blog that if I don’t know you already I’m not accepting names I can’t identify; ergo, no keyword names. I could care less if the rest of the world knows you already, until I know you I’m not allowing it. My blog, I pay for it, my policy. I don’t know what his is, and I don’t know what yours is. However, based on responses I’ve received on some of my posts, it seems that a majority of you would support this kind of thing because you can relate to it.

There’s the big boys, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. They all have policies as well. Some of them end up being very invasive, others not so much. There’s absolutely no right any of us have to circumvent those policies. Well, that’s not totally accurate. We do have the right to boycott, fuss, stomp our feet, write about it in our blogs, on and on and on.

But none of them have to change a thing. They’re not obligated to us. They’re paying for it in some way, we’re not. I thought about it over the weekend as I got an invite and took some folks up on joining the Google+ community. Then I thought about following it on my smartphone and it turns out that one of their rules is that if you access the page on your smartphone you must allow them to track you to find out where you are.

I’m somewhat hinky about that type of thing. I already know Google’s tracking me because I have a HTC phone, and it’s their product. I know that even after shutting down the Google location service they somehow know where I am; sigh. However, once you sign up for location tracking on something like Google+ or Facebook, it then starts telling people where you are at the moment you’re writing, and I’m not up for that. So I declined the offer; I’ll have to wait until I’m on a regular computer or laptop and play that way instead. I know, you’re probably thinking “hey, it knows when you’re at home”; that I can handle since my home is also my business.

International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical SpyingÂ

I asked my friend Sunny, one of my younger friends (who really needs to list her blogs somewhere so people can find them all lol) what her thoughts were, and people around her age, on the privacy issue. She said she felt that we’re all being tracked to some degree but if people are at least thinking about what they’re putting out about themselves that they can protect themselves a little bit.

I had to think about that one some because I realize that for the most part the genie is out of the bottle for me. Anyone can find out where I live by looking it up online because it’s also my business address. They can probably find my phone number for the same reason. They can find my picture and pictures of my wife, who has her own website as well. In other words, privacy is totally gone; I didn’t even make the chase interesting.

The same can be said for my friend Blog Bloke in a way. He’s been around at least 14 years online. We can know where he lives, and we can get his phone number. We know where his business is. The only thing we don’t know is what he really looks like. Does that matter? To him it does; to me it doesn’t. What matters is that we each get to decide just how private we want to be, but we can’t hide. If you want to prove it look up any name and see how much it costs you to get a wealth of information about that person.

By the way, I do have this thing about how some people hide themselves from others. I really don’t like fake commenter names and images, and some of you know my position on news commentary as it appears on news stories in online newspapers. I feel all those people should have to register their names and addresses with the newspaper and should have to use at least their real first name if they have something to say so there’s some type of decorum on those sites. Privacy in that instance isn’t a right; if you feel you have something to say, be an adult about it or keep your stupid thoughts to yourself; yeah, I said it.

Will I take up the privacy cause? No, it’s not my fight; I have other things I think are much more important to my life. I’ll let Blog Bloke & our federal government work on some of those things on my behalf. What I will say, once again, is that you need to protect yourself, your information, and your reputation. Once you’re associated with something in a certain way based on your actions, it’ll be hard to overcome. Be smart in what you do, be honest, and be careful. That’s all I have.

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Facebook Applications – How Trusting Are You Of Them?

I’m probably not the only one who gets invitations to sign up for Facebook applications. There are tons of them, and I know I’ve opted out of almost all of them that have come my way. There were a couple I signed up for before things really exploded, since I’ve been on the site for awhile, but since that time I’ve been reluctant to add many of them.


by Beth Kanter

The reason for my worry? I don’t like when an application is ready to load and it gives you all those disclaimers. The first one is always that it’s an independent application and has nothing to do with Facebook. I’m not sure I like that, but I guess it’s the same thing Apple tells people who have the iPhone about their applications. Sure, they’ll allow it to be used but if anything goes wrong they absolve themselves of any blame. I don’t quite like that, but we’ll move on.

The second thing is that the programs all say they’re going to access every single thing you have on your Facebook page. That’s bothersome to me, moreso than anything else, because they also let you know that they might share that information with someone else. In other words, you sign onto any stupid little game application and you’re basically saying to the world “spam me”.

Not that I really expect all that much privacy from Facebook anymore. Sure, they’ve added filters that allow us to protect some information, but they added those filters after they had already made changes then put your information out to the world, when the backlash came. Not that any of that targeted marketing is working anyway; my page says I’m married and I’m still getting ads for dating services. I also get ads for weight loss, other types of computer games, and strangely enough some kind of special new vitamin water; yuck!

All of this comes up in my mind as I’ve been debating whether or not to allow the upload of one application in particular, that being the Family Tree application. Telling more than I need to, I had pretty much gotten my mind into the reality that I probably was never going to see or hear from most of my family members again after some significant members have passed away, and was surprised when a couple of cousins connected with me on Facebook.

Suddenly family members I knew and didn’t really know were coming out of the woodworks, and then this Family Tree thing came up. Part of me thinks it would be really interesting to load it and see just how I’m related to a few of these people. Another part of me sees it as just another application that’ll get my information and sell it off.

What to do, what to do? Well, I still have lots of time to ponder this one out. How do you handle all these Facebook applications, if you’re on the service? How much do you trust them to do the right thing with your information?

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Are You Restricting Your Influence?

I know you didn’t think I was done talking about influence, did you?


kevin hides by insunlight

Last week, Kristi retweeted an article someone else put together titled The 100 Most Powerful Women On Twitter. It was an interesting list for two reasons. One, I knew very few of the names on the list. Two, it was amazing seeing the high number of followers some of those people had that weren’t celebrities. The woman at #1 is super young, though super cute I must admit, and a singer whose music I’d never heard.

The list was compiled using Twitter Grader, which I’d written about back in September 2008. I hadn’t been to that site for awhile, so I decided to go over and check my rating. Out of 100, it says my rating is 99.3; I love that figure, and I decided to pop the badge onto the blog, which you can see there to the right just above the bird. However, it also said that out of around 7.6 million people, I rank around 49,500.

I thought about it a little bit, and then I realized that I have gone to some lengths to limit my opportunities for growth without realizing it. And I don’t just mean Twitter. But let’s start with Twitter.

I’m very strict with who I follow on Twitter. I’ve talked about some people who are twitter selfish, which irks the heck out of me. I’ve talked about people who only work on grabbing more twitter followers as if it’s only supposed to be a number’s game. And I talked about why I don’t follow some twitter folks. And I asked if people were being social with social media.

But I also talked about having a twitter marketing plan. One thing I never talked about in that post was how you might have to lower your standards a little bit to gain more followers without compromising all of your standards. For instance, something I could do is to start following more people with bonafides that aren’t quite as social as I like people to be because many of those folks retweet stuff they see, and maybe those folks would see some things I write and retweet them to their audiences. That would alter one of my standards, but it would be better than my going out and just following everyone I see, hoping they’ll follow me.

That sounds like an odd strategy, but I know it’s a working strategy a lot of people have, following someone with a lot of followers to hopefully get into their stream of consciousness. Frankly that seems like pandering to me, but people have done much worse to get noticed.

Then I thought about Facebook. With all the changes they’ve made, and my deciding I wanted to protect more of my privacy, I have my account set up so that if you’re not connected to someone who I’m connected with you can’t find me on Facebook. I don’t know too many people who’ve done that. Somehow, I still have almost 475 friends, but I don’t get those random former friends from my past finding me anymore; I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I’m also not sure it’s a bad thing. Sure, there are some people who have more than 5,000 friends (it seems Facebook is always changing its rules on how many “friends” one is allowed to have), and I have a feeling I could have way more friends, but at what cost to some of my privacy, though we’ve talked here about there really being no privacy anymore?

Can you have influence online if you’re not Seth Godin and don’t make yourself more accessible? I think you can, but it takes a bit more work in other ways. You have to reach out to people you know in different ways. You have to find a way to have people thinking of you as an authority in some fashion. And you have to be as engaging as you can be and be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they come your way.

Hey, no one ever said working on being influential was easy!

Advantus Decorative Vision Motivational Poster

Advantus Decorative Vision Motivational Poster






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