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Thread: The perils of sharing personal information online

  1. #1
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    Post The perils of sharing personal information online

    Mods and admins, please feel free to move this thread wherever appropriate and/or merge threads.

    It's ironic that I'm writing this thread in General Conversations, which is searchable with Google. (So are Werelist blogs that are set to public.) It's also ironic that I'm the one writing it. I've said too much.

    I want to emphasize that the information we post here on Werelist is publicly accessible, and in some cases, a malicious ex or former friend or other breed of internet harasser can and will do anything they like with the information you share in posts:

    - Gossip, of course, sometimes including material from conversations you'd intended to keep private

    - Take screenshots and/or copy and paste, again, sometimes including material from supposedly private conversations

    - Post your words and/or information anywhere else on the internet

    - Internet-stalk you

    - Hack you using the tidbits of information they've gleaned from the forums

    - Contact your employer to ruin your professional reputation

    - Blackmail you

    - Turn friends against you

    - Post your contact information or other sensitive information elsewhere on the internet

    Among other things; what have I missed?

    This is one of those things that people don't seem to really take seriously until it's too late. Even if you don't care about how you're perceived or if others share your conversations or other data, your employer might take it more seriously. I'd like to caution people against oversharing details that could publicly identify you.

    I learned this the hard way. I should have known better. A contact who had access to privileged information turned sour on me and ended up using this information against me, along with digging up dirt on other members here. Now there are trust issues and bad blood between me and people here who used to be friends of mine. I've become aware that this person has been sharing sensitive, privileged information from locked blog posts with my old acquaintances, turning them against me. Never underestimate the damage that can be inflicted by a former friend or such who has decided to target you.

    Likewise, never underestimate the damage potential of a random person who dislikes you for whatever reason. "Gossip" could mean that someone emails your personal contacts with screenshots of private conversations. Or whatever else you can imagine that might affect you personally. This happened to me recently and I'm not happy, but I'll lick my wounds and get over it and hopefully become less willing to divulge personal information in the future. Hindsight is 20/20. I should have trusted them less.

    The NSA has nothing on the stalking capabilities of an angry former friend or ex. :P

    I'm painfully aware that I'm the worst offender in the "sharing personal info" continuum. Don't be like me. Don't share personally identifying information. This isn't some kind of moralistic imperative handed down from on high. Do what you like. I'm just trying to remind people that not everyone thinks or behaves ethically. If you're already basically following that principle, knowing that some people are shitheads, great! Keep denying them the private information and power and attention they seek.

    On another note regarding privacy, I can't fully blame myself for trusting someone whom I absolutely should have been able to trust, but I still regret doing so. I'll be more cautious in the future, but as the saying goes, the horses have already fled the barn. I feel like the target of a minor burglary who is only now deciding to install an alarm system.

    Most people, I'll wager, are fairly decent people who understand that certain important social boundaries are never to be breached. But a minority of people will be more than happy to exploit anything you give them, for their own reasons. Reasons that sometimes don't make much sense to someone with a well-developed system of ethics.

    What else would you add?

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    I'm mobile (in the woods at the moment), but I didn't know that. I've already been upfront in my Facebook past than I should be. Telling people I felt I have the soul of a wolf and a Therian. I live in a small rural town and am friends with a lot of those same small town folks. So you can see how bad of an idea that is.

    But I had no idea this was public and searchable by Google. I may have to post elsewhere in the forum or in another group if I don't have some anonymity. I don't want my face on the local paper "local thinks he a wolf". Hell no! I don't want to be on TV or quoted on the YouTube or online except for Therian groups, if at all.

    I don't wear wolf clothing (much), and the few Therian things I have can be passed off (and have been) as I simply like wolves.

    I like to blend in, everywhere lol.

    So the idea that all I say is being stored by Google, no.

    If there is some way to shield my posts in these forums I would like to try so. If not, where can I post on Werelist and have security?
    Last edited by AziMWolf; July 1st, 2016 at 04:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee RuralWolf
    If not, where can I post on Werelist and have security?
    Currently most of the Werelist subforums are members-only, except for these:

    New User Orientation
    The Barn Raising
    General Conversations
    Werelist Media Center
    Fun & Games

    I've mentioned to staff that I find the public nature of General Conversations problematic, considering how much sharing of information happens in this subforum. They're looking into it. I'd also like to see Werelist Media Center and Fun & Games become members-only, but that's up to the discretion of the staff.
    Last edited by Coyote Jones; July 1st, 2016 at 05:34 PM. Reason: the devil's in the details

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    These are important cautions - be aware that ANYTHING you post online can be seen and possibly searched, so be careful about disclosing too much personal information. For now I'll make this thread a sticky so that everyone can see clearly which forums are searchable.

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    There's also what you post on other sites and then link here to think about. You could be all kinds of cautious here and then link to another site where you weren't so cautious and then stalker's got a link.
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    I don't have any enemies looking for dirt on me. But I would rather stay incognito for what it's worth between my real/physical life and online. I mean it's one thing to say I'm a therian, soul of a wolf, and leave it at that. Not like that's a good idea anyway as I said above. But at least it's not details that might literally have people try and get me committed.

    I'll say this, about 10 months ago this crazy guy got wind I said I had the soul of a wolf on Facebook, as a result he was trying to get the cops to arrest me on the grounds I would hurt/kill someone. Then another person was worried I might bite their children. So needless to say, I don't discuss therianthropy openly on Facebook anymore. I've considered pulling all details about such from Facebook. But that's nothing compared to what I and most of us experience. I mean, instincts, urges, etc.... Since this is public, that's as far as I'll go.

    But where I live, if the right people knew there would be a real, serious chance of getting locked up, committed, or attempted to be exorcized (christian).

    So I need to dial back.

    @Savage, is there no way to make all parts of the site for registered members only, were it cannot be searched on Google?

    I love werelist, I really do. This was my first group I ever joined to learn more. But I know I speak for myself and a lot of others who would like total privacy in these threads. I understand certain parts should be searchable. But these places where we post our most inner experiences, thoughts, those should be private, for us alone.

    Thank you kindly.
    Last edited by AziMWolf; July 2nd, 2016 at 12:53 AM.

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    If the whole site were unsearchable, nobody would be able to find it except through word of mouth. That's not ideal since I know a lot of members find us through Google.

    I understand the paranoia and it's nice to be cautious (it's probably not a good idea for me to use the same username here that I use other places, for example) but I think that accessibility to outsiders is a goal of the site and closing it wouldn't help with that.

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    Okay, guys. It's not really a big huge deal. If you've got a stalker already it might be one thing. But for the most part it's safe, even if Google has access to it. We need Google so people can find us. The general forums have always been publicly available, this has never changed since the site's beginning. Please don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

    You can protect yourselves by limiting how much information you give. Don't give out your RL name. Don't give out your RL address. If you're worried your email address will link back to you, make up a new one from gmail, or use one of those temporary email sites.

    You should consider everything you post open or at least available to the public. The serious discussion forums require membership, but there's nothing stopping anyone from getting membership. If an asshole signed up, he could very well post everything on pastebin or something. (That would be some unfun work for them, but they could). Obscurity is not Security, please don't think that hiding the forums in some way protects you and your information. And were we to make this place more secure, we would close ourselves off to people that could really use a site like the Werelist. I'm not a fan of this.

    The point is that nothing on the internet is ultimately secure. You have to protect yourself. Despite what people might say, it's not the end of the world (unless you're in one of the rare stalker circumstances).

    I can proudly proclaim that one of my posts ended up on Something Awful from the Werelist Site. It's not really a big deal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal
    But for the most part it's safe, even if Google has access to it. We need Google so people can find us. The general forums have always been publicly available, this has never changed since the site's beginning. Please don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
    I respectfully disagree. That said, the nature of my studies (internet stuff) has made me hyper-aware of just how common internet-stalking and hacking are. I didn't think it would happen to me until it did. I don't think that mountain is actually a molehill.

    I agree that I should have realized earlier that General Conversations is set to public. I absolutely should have. I, of all people, know what it is to be internet-stalked and hacked. (At the time, they found me through an LJ blog.)

    I mean, we even had ridiculous amounts of drama on the forums a year ago based on a Skype feud, and the fallout is still around today. I can personally attest that being stalked/hacked/doxxed or some combination of the three is much, much more personally harmful than some lame mundane drama in a chat room.

    The sky isn't falling. I just don't like the idea of General Conversations remaining public. But I've mostly said my piece, and if the admins disagree, that's your call. We have our own different backgrounds and our own different biases.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal
    You can protect yourselves by limiting how much information you give. Don't give out your RL name. Don't give out your RL address. If you're worried your email address will link back to you, make up a new one from gmail, or use one of those temporary email sites.

    You should consider everything you post open or at least available to the public. The serious discussion forums require membership, but there's nothing stopping anyone from getting membership. If an asshole signed up, he could very well post everything on pastebin or something. (That would be some unfun work for them, but they could). Obscurity is not Security, please don't think that hiding the forums in some way protects you and your information. And were we to make this place more secure, we would close ourselves off to people that could really use a site like the Werelist. I'm not a fan of this.
    I agree about what you say in terms of guidelines about how much personal and identifying information we should let slip in a public forum. (Very little.) I'll take responsibility for my own mistakes there. I agree with most of your security advice, although not all of it. I know that security through obscurity isn't the best way to prevent stalking or identify theft or what have you. Every hacker isn't out to get you. Having said that, shit happens. My main concern is that we, or the admins and mods, really should make it very clear that nothing posted on a public forum can be protected against falling into the wrong hands, and that members-only forums are certainly not immune to attacks from bad actors, but ultimately, the member's-only forum is still modestly safer because Google isn't archiving all of it.

    People are really, really bad at thinking about long-term consequences. I'll link to academic papers if anyone wishes to dispute this point. I'm saying that even I hadn't anticipated long-term consequences for having said something in a public forum years ago, although I should have known and I'm aware of my own stupidity and complacency.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal
    The point is that nothing on the internet is ultimately secure.
    Agree and disagree. In theory, even the most soundly-protected system on the internet isn't unhackable. That absolutely doesn't mean that there's no need to protect your private information. It doesn't mean that everyone should set their wifi password to "123abc" and use outdated encryption technologies because who cares, the intruders will get in no matter what? (OK, OK, before you say anything, that wasn't the best example. It was a straw man argument. Sorry.) I get your point that all of us should exercise more discretion in our posts here, myself more than others, even. I don't mean to imply that if a shitstorm starts in the wider internet based on my posts here, Werelist should be held accountable, because you shouldn't be. I'm responsible for my own words. That still applies to a ridiculous and infamous non-Werelist Skype conversation that went haywire. That conversation is starting to amuse me, actually. "Look at the animal-identified people acting like petty humans."

    Having said that, the fact that you're personally okay with garnering attention from Something Awful doesn't mean that the rest of us would be capable of dealing with that same situation. You're used to people's bullshit. Not everyone is. Attention that you can shrug off might be life-ruining for someone else. Even if it's not life-ruining, that attention can be unwanted.

    An Introduction to Threat Modeling.

    If people still had access to the ezboard I'd created as a preteen in 2000, no doubt I would still be held accountable for every stupid thing I'd said. That's human nature. I appreciate that my own forums were locked, as were other forums I visited, and as a result, the Wayback Machine can't find any of it. I feel like I cheated the Devil.

    If your Google rank is more important to you than making General Conversations members-only, that's your choice. Wait, that sounds patronizing. I really don't mean to sound patronizing! I'm saying that the staff here are in a better position to make the choices that are best for Werelist overall than I could possibly be. If closing off a popular forum would make Werelist less findable to the general public, that's certainly something to consider.

    I feel that Werelist has the opportunity to at least post an updated thread about internet privacy for those of us, including me, who missed it the first time around. I used to run a message board that attracted marginalized people, society's misfits: teenage mothers, preteen otherkin, people with autism, victims of parental abuse, therians still figuring themselves out, and others who needed a relatively safe space in which to talk about sensitive subjects. It worked for me. I probably sucked as a counsellor, being 14 or 15 at the time, but at least those conversations have vanished into the void, protecting the identities of all who posted there. To each their own. I'm nobody to tell the Werelist admins what your own job duties are. If it sounds like I'm doing that, I don't mean to. I'm just opinionated and I write too much. :P

    What's more, I wrote that with a semi-functional, semi-paralyzed left hand that looks like this due to nerve damage that might require surgery. I posted that image elsewhere and received sexual comments. Sigh. But yeah, typing is much trickier than it used to be. I just hope no one interprets this post as me handing down wisdom from on high as opposed to simply sharing my own thoughts, no judgment against the admins or anyone else intended.

    Aside from my judgment of internet stalkers, who seriously need to get a life.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal View Post
    Okay, guys. It's not really a big huge deal. If you've got a stalker already it might be one thing. But for the most part it's safe, even if Google has access to it. We need Google so people can find us. The general forums have always been publicly available, this has never changed since the site's beginning. Please don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
    I'm not trying to tell the admin/staff what to do or how to run the board. I also understand that people search Therianthropy and need to find the site on Google. But can the information most would be looking for be in the meta-data or on the main index page?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal View Post
    You can protect yourselves by limiting how much information you give. Don't give out your RL name. Don't give out your RL address. If you're worried your email address will link back to you, make up a new one from gmail, or use one of those temporary email sites.
    I do that already. I use a separate email and user name that cannot be linked back. I searched it before to see if if linked back to Facebook or vice-versa. It cannot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal View Post
    You should consider everything you post open or at least available to the public. The serious discussion forums require membership, but there's nothing stopping anyone from getting membership. If an asshole signed up, he could very well post everything on pastebin or something. (That would be some unfun work for them, but they could). Obscurity is not Security, please don't think that hiding the forums in some way protects you and your information. And were we to make this place more secure, we would close ourselves off to people that could really use a site like the Werelist. I'm not a fan of this.
    They could, but thing is if they were that determined to cause havoc in ones life or just try and "help" that person, they would do their homework.

    Like my first post said, Some maybe fine going on TV, YouTube and Facebook (the latter, I did, but redacted, yeah, it's out there, but anyway.) I'm not one of those people. I like to blend in with the other people in my community.

    I caused my own issue with what I said happened to me, if I hadn't posted "I have the soul of a wolf" and, "I am a Therian", then that would have never happen. Heinsight is 20/20 and I was a stupid idiot to post ANYTHING on Facebook. I only hope people thought I was joking, or since I don't speak of it anymore, they might have forgotten, or thought it was a phase.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal View Post
    The point is that nothing on the internet is ultimately secure. You have to protect yourself. Despite what people might say, it's not the end of the world (unless you're in one of the rare stalker circumstances).
    Nothing is secure, even if you use every encryption available. If China can hack Sony, It wouldn't take much for someone to hack Werelist or another therian group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakkal View Post
    I can proudly proclaim that one of my posts ended up on Something Awful from the Werelist Site. It's not really a big deal.
    None of my posts have ended up on non-therian sites. I don't care what happens within the community. It's always outside that bothers me.
    Last edited by AziMWolf; July 2nd, 2016 at 06:16 PM.

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