Friday, August 17, 2012

How Safe Are You on the Internet...?

How confident are you that the Internet is a safe place?  Very confident?  Somewhat?  Not at all?  If you chose not at all, you're probably right.  It never occurred to me until just recently, what a dangerous place the Internet is.  And now, as much as we think we are protecting ourselves, we have absolutely no protection at all.  Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.  None.  It's the wide-open wild, wild West, and we have very little say in how our personal information, photographs, children, pets, recipes, et al, are disseminated on the Internet.  The moment we post that first comment or photograph on Facebook, we're toast.  And we take our whole 450 friends, family and pets with us.  Toast.  The Internet is like Russian Matryoshka dolls. Inside one person's profile is another, and another and another, ad infinitum.  And they carry on exponentially, depending on how many friends your friends' friends' friends friends' friends have, up to multiples of thousands and even millions.

Occasionally I like to read the comments posted on the articles on the CNN website.  They're a hoot.  There are some extremely intelligent people out there, well-read and knowledgeable.  And then there are others who ... are not.  In fact. it's actually astonishing how many folks out there have little or no knowledge of world affairs, current events, history, geography, cultures of other countries, or even what is going on in their own back yards.  Where do these people spend their time -- on the dark side of the moon?  In the 21st Century when knowledge is available instantly, how can folks be so ill-informed?  It boggles the mind.  Perhaps it is just a case of not wanting to be informed.  Ignorance is bliss.  I don't know...

The other day a commenter logged onto the CNN website and was posting really vile racist comments. He hated anyone who wasn't white, and he posted every horrible racial slur you could imagine ~~ and some I haven't even heard.  He was disgusting.  The stupid man was posting with his Facebook account.  All anyone had to do was click on his profile, and it went straight to his Facebook, which was public.  He had 482 friends, many of whom were non-white.  Many!  So, here was this stupid man, in a public forum, posting racist comments about the very people with whom he was friends on Facebook.  But the worst part of it was, he also had pictures of his children, in their bathing suits, for anyone in the entire world to click on, with one click.  And included in his Facebook account was his place of business and where he lived.  It would have taken a predator no time at all to find that man's little girls, or at the very least, to copy their photographs.  And not only that, but his 482 friends were exposed to the Internet on the CNN website, and their friends, and their friends, and their friends and their friends...

Okay, perhaps I am being over-reactive, but I don't think so.  We should at least have a say in what information we want to have shared with the world.  Do we really want a photograph of our nine-year old child, in her bathing suit, easily accessible on the CNN comment board?  I don't think so.  I logged on and commented to the silly man gentleman that perhaps he should change his privacy settings to private before he posts controversial and provocative comments on a world-wide website.  I told him I am a Mom, and I was just trying to give him some friendly advice.  Well, long story short, that was a mistake.  And he's still posting his ranting, racist comments, and his Facebook page is still open to the whole world.  I did notice that in the last 24 hours his list of friends had gone from 482 to 450. Quelle surprise! But the pictures of his beautiful little daughter are still there for thousands millions of people's viewing pleasure.  You can't teach stupid.

We cannot change the world, and yes, it can be a dangerous place.  But we can change how we protect ourselves from this new reality known as globalization and the world-wide web.


Cloudia said...

We must regard whatever we put online as public information.
Reminds me of the old advice:
Don't do it, say it,
unless you would be willing
for it to be on the
front page of the paper
tomorrow. . .

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Excellent post, Jo. I have no comment because you have covered the whole ball of yarn perfectly.

Stephen said...

Are you 100 percent sure that the offensive comments are from him? Twitter and Facebook accounts have been captured by people who use their ill-gotten knowledge for hateful, even criminal purposes. His account could have been hacked, or maybe he simply lost his mobile phone with a Facebook app that is always "on."

Whether or not he's guilty, of course, he's got problems.

Linda Myers said...

Yep. I assume everything I say is wide open to the world. Hopefully I'll remember that every time I log on.

Sextant said...

I never had an interest in Facebook, and an incident that happened to me several years ago locked that down where I will never join Facebook or FB copy cats.

I received an email invitation to join FB so that I could view an internet friend's photos. This guy lives in England. In the email was a picture of the guy who sent the email, and of my wife's uncle, several of her cousins, and a friend of my brother in law. All people that had emailed me at one time or another. All the photos had full names and their cities.

I replied back to my friend in England that while I was honored that he would consider me for friendship on FB, I was not interested in joining FB. He wrote back and said that he had not invited me to join FB. I sent him the request. He knew nothing about it. He stated that he was looking for some relatives in the US and put a request into FB. FB asked to look at his email account. He approved it. Next thing FB is sending out requests to join FB in his name as though he was sending it out, without his knowledge. I doubt my wife's relatives knew that their photos, names, and cities were being used in a FB request from someone they had no idea existed in England.

Unfortunately you don't even need to join FB, or have a computer, or ever have used a computer to have your information smeared all over the internet.

Our county has every property owner listed on a public site available to everyone. It includes the names of the owners, address, photo of the home, floor plan, a google map, the year you bought the property, valuation, and what you paid in taxes. They encourage citizens to check the neighbors property values and taxes to make sure that your neighbors are not cheating on their property taxes.

I have no interest in what my neighbors are doing with their property taxes, thats up to the county to figure that out with their endless assessments but it pisses me off to no end that my information is being published right on the Internet. Interested in breaking into homes for burglary? No need to ride about neighborhoods looking for good targets, just browse in the comfort of your living room, print floor plan and plug the address into your smart phone or gps. My taxes are used to put information up on the internet that I would not post in 1000 years. Indeed it is public information, but there is a big difference in going down to the county clerks office and leafing through dusty old real estate books and accessing information in your living room or car for that matter from a smart phone. I am sure that the real estate folks lobbied long and hard for that service, and I have to wonder how many times it has been used to aid a home burglary or invasion.

My wife is very careful about shredding anything that has our name and address on it that comes in the mail. She is worried about identity theft. Who the hell is going to trudge through the trash when all they need is right on Internet, accuracy guaranteed by the county?

Check out some of the phone book sites. They have your name, address, phone number, and people you are associated with, and a list of your previous addresses.

I never use my real name and post pictures of my self or family on the internet. People pooh pooh at that, like I am being paranoid, but to me too much of your business is being bandied about and you indeed have no control over it...even if you never logged on the internet in your life.

Russell said...

In today's world the internet is a part of our life. However, we do have to be careful and use some common sense - just as you point out so well.

I do not care for Facebook. I have an account but only activate it once in a while mainly so I can take a look at my daughter's page - then I usually deactivate my account. By the way, Facebook makes it rather difficult to deactivate your account.

I never, never, never (did I say never?) post any personal information on the internet. I am not a fan of any social networks for a lot of reasons.

Still, a certain amount of information about us is out there for the world to see and we need to be aware of it and take steps to minimize what a stranger could do with such information.

Em Parkinson said...

I'm with you on this. I never put pictures of my son on my blog or on facebook. I don't understand the obsession with sharing our every move with the world. I find writing the blog hard enough!

Anonymous said...

This post is a good reminder for all of us. When it comes to Facebook, I guess the privacy settings are a little like locks on our doors. Those locks won't stop someone who is really determined to get to us. But they probably stop most. I use FB mainly as a place for my nature photos and as a way to keep up with family and friends. And I started an alumni group on FB for a company I used to work for and it's been wonderful to re-connect. Without FB, I don't think it could have happened. So it does have some good uses. But I wish everyone would set their privacy settings tighter. I don't think anyone's wall should be public and that includes the friends list. Mine is set so that only my FB friends can see it. And I'm picky about accepting friend requests. Everyone can check to see how their FB page looks to the public by clicking "view as."

Anisha said...

What I do is post only those pictures which will have no harm even if it came out in the front page someday.
Apart from fb and blogger, no other place where i post my pictures..But then I do worry about my email id's and personal info's being misused. But then i must admit I'm quite hooked to it and there's no way i would stop using the internet :(

❤Not Just My Allegories❤

Unknown said...

"A Majority of Two" has been included in the Sites To See for this week. I hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

muthu said...

honestly, I think that common sense becomes extremely important when dealing with internet. Not just social networking webpages, the entire internet is a monster that grows on your own information. I think it's prudent to take care what information about you- you are going to feed it.

Racial beliefs, religion, color and such issues are always personal and usually strongly held. You need not accept other views but then learning to live along becomes important.

In a world that's embracing internet and face book with open hands- It becomes important to classify your personal as your own.

but, honestly- tell me where do you draw the lines?

How do you know the limit of whats ok and whats not when posting group photos?

How do you trust anything online?

?? So many Qs!!!