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06 July 2003 @ 07:58 pm
Creepy Weirdness, part 2  
Whatever happened to basic politeness?? Socially acceptable behavior?

Wow - I've discovered that in this digital day and age basic politeness has gone *completely* out the the window. Apparently it's normal operating procedure to hunt people down and gather as much information as possible based on a mere interest. To spend hours doing this sort of thing. To follow not a single link that might indicate a bit of intrigue, but to follow dozens, amassing as much data as possible. After exchanging on the order of 15 words with the person in question.

Even scarier is that it seems a bunch of people see no problem with this approach...


Perhaps I was raised in a more genteel and enlightened manner. This isn't how it works in my world.

(see comments for thread (and replies) started by the person who behaved in this manner)

-the redhead-
...thinking the full background check idea might be acceptable after all...
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:02 pm (UTC)
To tell or not to tell
Saturday July 5, 2003
10:42:42 AM PDT


I find a profile that I really really like. It has an interesting profile name.

I decide to see if she's used the name for other profiles or personal websites on the Net and do a Google search for that nickname.

I come up with more than I bargained for. I come up with a real name... first and last. I find an address, telephone number, career info, regular e-mail address, hobbies and interests, and a folder full of photos (all G rated). All this in less than an hour's time, with nothing more than an Internet search engine.

So what am I to do? I have no sinister intentions, so I know that it's safe for *me* to have this info. But I also know that people need to be careful about their personal info and identities on the Net. There *are* people with sinister intentions out there.

Also, I feel guilty now that I know so much about her, without her knowing an equal amount about me.

So what DID I do? I e-mailed her through PMM and let her know what I know, in as friendly and benign a way as possible; apologized for my curiosity that led to my learning it; and, to be fair, gave her as much personal info about me as I have about her, to make us as vulnerable as she is likely to feel.

Did I do the right thing?

IN LOCO PARENTISlibidoergosum on July 6th, 2003 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re: To tell or not to tell
that was an extremely courageous thing to do. Whether or not it was the right thing to do, I'd have to leave it up to you. Then again, I also try to be a little more cautious as I still have an Ex-wife out there who may want to do me harm.

none the less, kudos to you for standing up for your convictions.
Andrewmusicwolf on July 6th, 2003 07:06 pm (UTC)
Trust me, I understand. At one point I tried to find info about people on LJ before adding them...then realized that people might do the same for me, so I just started adding people and reading their journals to get to know them.

Although if you wish to respond to this comment please place eye close to computer screen for retinal scan. Thank you and have a nice day.
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:32 pm (UTC)
Right eye or left eye?

-the redhead-
Andrewmusicwolf on July 6th, 2003 09:27 pm (UTC)

And also, I remember proving to my parents exactly how easy it is to find info on someone. They do the whole shred documents and such thing. Using only their full names and address...I showed them their balance from their bank, in about 10 minutes.

Truely sad.
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:06 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
10:56:02 AM PDT


Generally not a good move, bud. It's a paranoid world out there, and YES, you can, in fact find all sorts of juicy information about people based on the simple things like their usernames, phone numbers, etc...

Nobody likes to be reminded of this, and when you send an email full of personal information to someone who doesn't know you from Adam, chances are they're gonna spook, and spook hard.

I take the following approach when I find out information about a relative stranger that they probably didn't mean for me to have: I get to know the person, and then when they've interacted with me in person long enough to develop some trust in me, I show them the information, and how to get to it, in person, on their own computer.

If you're really out to help folks, and not just get a cheap thrill by scaring them, that's a good way to go about it.

- C***
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:08 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
11:08:45 AM PDT

I am so happy I bothered to meet my Hubby after it felt like he was following me trying to find me. At the time I had no Idea that he was a sweet guy he was a Dom off alt.com that emailed me and was pressuring me to meet him. For all I knew a dangerous man. Another poly friend met him before I did and she says it like it is and I asked her straight out what she thought of him. lol She got on my case about being paranoid lol That she was the one that invited him to our local poly group. Lol She told me what can go wrong from meeting him in a very public place. So knowing she would not mislead me I did I almost passed up the Love of my life due to fear! I will always be thankful to her for knocking some sense in me.
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:09 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
11:29:38 AM PDT

Sex, Lies, and Information Security.

Sorry, do NOT let anyone get on your case about being paranoid. Quite frankly the net has become TOO prolific TOO fast and information about ANYONE can be found on it. We've come to think that a pseudonym will protect our identities while we scatter more information in different places.

Unlike S*****, i INTENTIONALLY track people down on the net. In the last year I have only failed to find one person I have been looking for via the internet. And I mean i track them to physical locations.

In one case, a very close friend of mine met someone via the net and rather foolishly invited him to stay with her. He stayed for a day and half, used her computer and then vanished. I tracked who he'd been chatting with and where he'd gone and had HER call and warn the next gal he was going to go see. My point? If you think you can't be found, chances are you're wrong.

When it comes to meeting people . . . common sense rules apply . . .take a friend, public place, etc.

My 2¢
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:10 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
11:36:40 AM PDT


I have sort of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, you don't want to have the person think you're a cyber stalker. But on the other hand, she should probably be aware of how easy it is to find information about someone online, if she doesn't already know. I did have someone from PMM Google me after I sent her a message with an e-mail address containing my last name. She said she hoped I didn't mind, and I didn't, but then again, I don't have any illusions about the privacy of screen names. I would never post a phone number or home address, but I know this info is pretty easy to find with a full name, especially if you own any domains.

I'd just say be careful not to freak her out. She might not be aware of how much she has out there and how easy it is to find.

-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:11 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
12:02:14 AM PDT


I think you handled it wonderfully and it shows that your intention no matter what you recive in return was/is honest. If someone feels like you are stalking them or some such thing all they have to do is read your profile and they will see that you are a kind and gental soul that is only seeking others that are the same. I think people tend to be very scared of things that "go bump in the night". So I feel like for you personally it was the right thing to do and I respect the way you handled it...Good Job!

-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:14 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
4:14:44 PM PDT

web mostly doesn't tell anyone anything they couldn't have found before the web. it's just more convenient when it's accurate, which it sometimes isn't. identity theft/fraud's not enabled by the web, just made easier

s****** - how do you know it wasn't a decoy? don't be too free about throwing around -your- info either, regardless of what someone -may- have put online

if ya wanna know perhaps too much, check
- electronic frontier foundation at http://www.eff.org/
- counterpane, a computer/net security firm which does a -lot- of public tutorials/articles at http://www.counterpane.com/

welcome to the web. bring some caution along with your freedom
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:16 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
4:15:36 PM PDT

S**, other than giving information about yourself in return, I think you did a good thing!

I understand you were trying to express your good intentions, but you could have done that without exposing yourself to vulnerabilities.

My now ex husband did a search on me early on in our online chatting time. He immediately told me what he had found (which included the map to my house!) and also told me how to get the information removed from the various search engines. At first, I spooked a bit, but quickly realized that if he had bad intentions, he surely wouldn't have told me about the information.
(He actually asked if he could keep my phone number and when I told him no, he deleted it!)

Thanks for the timely reminder though, I haven't done a search on me in a long time and probably need to. I've lost the addy to the site to request removal from various databases, I'll email hubster and see if he still has it.
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:17 pm (UTC)
Saturday July 5, 2003
11:29:04 PM PDT

Sei, It strikes me that it was a good and considerate thing to do. If she doesn't appreciate it now, she's bound to later. And that you kept mulling it over and posted your concern to the forum just lets the value keep spreading. Ive learned a lot and gained new resources (thanks Chaos). I did a search on myself. Didn't find me, but found out some things about my grandfather and name sake I didn't know before.
There sure are a lot of evolved and supportive minds out west. Ever since coming across this site I keep thinking of Ken Kesey in Sometimes a Great Notion where he supposes that the inquisitive members of families picked up and kept heading west over the generations until you all had piled up on the coast. The image sticks in my mind like a tune that won't leave. And most every new post keeps supporting it. E**
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:18 pm (UTC)
Sunday July 6, 2003
0:05:39 AM PDT

Thank you all for your responses.

I think that perhaps this is a situation where telling is not necessarily the 'right' thing, but it was rather the 'good' thing.

I do hope that if she was spooked, that she will get over it sooner or later. From what I've learned about her, she's simply too cool a person to let this faze her for long. (Or so I certainly hope!)

When it comes right down to it, someone with sinister intentions or even ulterior motives would not have announced to her what he knew, but rather would have used it to acheive his ends.

As for sharing my personal info with her, I feel I have gotten enough of a sense of her that she will be honorable toward me. (Though if she did, in fact, send me mail or phone me, I'd be very flattered).

I am convinced now that I could have done no different. Not that I'm certain there wasn't a better way, but this was quintessentially *my* way. It reflects my character of complete candor.

-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:19 pm (UTC)
Sunday July 6, 2003
3:34:06 AM PDT

One simple rule to follow: NEVER, NEVER, !N!E!V!E!R! give your real name and address on any website that you don't trust. Never post it in a newsgroup, never post it on a message board. I regularly search for myself, and I have never found a reference to me. (Well, I've found references to my name, but when I go that route, I'm a helluva basketball player, a really bad punk vocalist, a decent college football player, a minor league baseball player, CEO of a corporation, actor, and I've died several different ways. None of which describe me. Now, on the other hand, my pseudonym has shown up dozens of times in places I recognize, and I'm relatively careful with that as well.)If you emailed me with all my info, I'd probably get really, *REALLY* paranoid and buy a gun. But, as I said, me as ME is nowhere to be found on the net.

Anyhoo... Enough ranting. You did a good thing, S**, but I'd be pretty worried if I were her. *shrug* hope it all works out.

-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:20 pm (UTC)
-the redhead-
Sunday July 6, 2003
3:49:56 PM PDT

New Message

Edit Post
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Hmmm - maybe the title of the thread should be 'To do or not to do'?

Whatever happened to polite society wherein one would actually *speak* with a person to get to know them, instead of anonymously hunting down as much personal info as one could possibly find ahead of time?

Do regular people really do things like this just because they have the resources and are bored?

-the redhead-
...wonders if that means I should collect a full criminal, financial, and medical background check on people I might be interested in just because I can with a single, 3 minute phone call?
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:21 pm (UTC)
Sunday July 6, 2003
4:14:02 PM PDT

New Message

well was I wrong for looking up My Hubbys info?? NO! There are tooooo many that lie about them selfs online. and it never hurts to do a back ground check on people. In fact many people say its a good thing to do.
there are to many Poseing as what they are not online. And in these days you CAN'T be to carful.
And if People dont want there info known all over the net DONT put it there in the first place.
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:23 pm (UTC)
Sunday July 6, 2003
5:05:49 PM PDT

New Message

I would generally agree that in polite society, you don't go to extraordinary lengths to snoop.

I would like to make it understood that I had no intention of finding out where she lived, or other highly personal information.

I merely did a search for the nickname, thinking that I'd find a Yahoo or MSN profile somewhere, or perhaps a personal web-page with some more photos or poetry or something (like many people have).

However, when your search turns up a website with that nickname, you think... "Hey! She's got a personal webpage... isn't that nice!"

So you go to that site and find that it's in a fair amount of disarray, but still has some neat stuff on it about that person. You're thinking, "I see it's still under construction (or deconstruction), but it's still open to public access, put there by her. She must not care."

You also find that same nickname in e-mail address listings for special interest websites, along with a full name, address, and phone number.

Before you can type "Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious", you have a dossier on this gal, most of which was put into the public eye by HER.

I also have to wonder about this lady's definition of "polite", when I asked her in chat (before doing this 'snooping') if I might e-mail her. She agrees and says she'll reply later that same day. I'd think that keeping one's promises is polite.

The 'snooping' in question was done a couple days after having no word back. To make matters worse, instead of "better-late-than-never" reply to the e-mail, which is perfectly understandable if this individual is very busy... one sees, several days later, that she's been active on the PMM website in other ways.

Meanwhile, your conscience is burning you for what you know about this person, as well as your curiosity peaked. So you send another short e-mail to her, with an open invitation to start a dialog. She responds, saying she's afraid of boring someone with the details of her life.

It is at this point that I responded with what I knew of her and how I knew of it, and told her that I was by no means bored, but quite interested.

So what started as an innocuous search turned into something much more than I expected or wanted. But you can't "unlearn" something. And, to use the old genteel language, having a lady at a disadvantage is not something a gentleman is comfortable with. My instinct (as a gentleman) is to even the playing field as quickly as possible.

Now... I invite anyone who thinks I behaved impolitely to explain to me how.


P.S. It is still my hope that she and I can still become friends. Perhaps down the road a ways, she and I can look back and have a laugh at the awkward stumbling we did when we first met in this so imperfect medium of the Internet.
-the redhead-theredhead on July 6th, 2003 07:24 pm (UTC)
Sunday July 6, 2003
6:12:37 PM PDT

New Message

Dear The RedHead:

Civilized people do not go searching for various information on others because they have the money and are bored...well, maybe some do, but for the most part, they do it out of safety.

My wife and I met on the Internet...love at first byte if you will, and were very attracted to each other from the onset. The proverbial ball was rolling downhill very fast, and we each in our own way had a LOT to lose if the other was not who they presented themselves to be.

So, fast forward a few months, we are engaged to be married, and one night my wife to be looks at me and starts tearing up saying she had a confession to make. She'd had me investigated to make sure I was who and what I was presenting to her...once burned twice shy if you will. I laughed and looked her right in the eye and said Sweety, so what, I had you investigated as well, it was the safe thing to do.

Like it or not, the old adage does stil hold true, in that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Now, as far as the situation with Sei...I've known Sei around the site since almost my first hours here when I bumped into him in the chat room here. He is bright, articulate, always willing to give (usually good) advice to those in need, and I feel his attentions are always in the right place.

Problem is, sometimes life is all about perceptions, and in this case, I think his honest intentions to some might look suspect, though they are not. Also, think there is a bit of the shoot the messenger mentality involved as well in that he perhaps showed her just how vulnerable her personal information is online, and so it is perhaps natural for her to FREAK OUT, and also perhaps natural for her to freak out at him as the one that exposed it to her.
Ysysabel on July 6th, 2003 09:28 pm (UTC)
I understand being worried that the person you're speaking with isn't what they seem. I even understand investigating someone who you're interacting with a lot, especially if you're considering meeting them RL. (I've done that myself, and at least once found things that weren't problematic per se, but that violated the person's anonymity, and made him very uncomfortable even though we'd been talking extensively for at least a month.)

I don't understand going to this length when you've hardly talked to the person. I agree with you that that seems just rude and invasive and very stalkerish. He claims that it was just a simple web search, but finding unlinked pictures directories isn't just a simple web search...
-the redhead-theredhead on July 7th, 2003 09:20 am (UTC)
Yup *nod* I guess it boils down to it's acceptable because it's possible.

Oh yeah, and *his* misbehavior is *my* fault because the information was available (tho scattered amongst a variety of places, each of which he had to visit seperately). Nice to know that community is so willing to blindly support 'their own'.

I'm glad that I live in a more civilized world than they do.

Another installment from that thread:

Monday July 7, 2003
8:38:21 AM PDT

I still say No mater why the search happend.....If the Woman did not want her info found. DONT PUT IT ON A WEB PAGE. I mean DDDDUUUHHHH!!!!! It dose not need to be some one on this sight looking it could be ANY one in the world. and it dose not need to be for stalking it could be for Identatie theft! S** Is a Sweet guy. Cuirosity got the best of him. lol But its not His falt the info was on the web to find!!! Many people have Home pages Shoot I do but I dont have My personal Info On it! He came forward and told this woman as soon as he found it....Would she rather he just not say....then find out later and then Really be P/Oed and say why did you not tell me this right way!! I know she rather he dident look in the first place. but he did....so it was eather tell now and risk her hating him or wate till later and get the SAME responce!the Damed if you do Damed if you dont! Some times you just cant win with women no mater what you do!


-the redhead-
...hopes no one minds the complete criminal, financial, medical, and background checks I will be conducting before I speak to any of you...
The Teasegentlemaitresse on July 13th, 2003 02:26 pm (UTC)
I do check out men that I "meet" online before we have our first date. I also require my husband to be present for at least the first part of that date, so if he feels weird about the guy for any reason he can signal me.

BTW, I found your journal through polyamory and wanted to say that I agreed with what you said in regards to the off topic post of today. I just didn't want to say it *there*. ;-)

You had said: "No, of course crossposting multiple pics of oneself to 15 different communities (including others where it is inappropriate) isn't looking for attention. Not at all..."

Heh.. That's exactly what I was thinking!

-the redhead-theredhead on July 13th, 2003 02:36 pm (UTC)
I figured I couldn't be the only person who thought that. Not to mention not making the effort to *fix* the error...

Yes, it is good to know something about people, especially if you are going to meet them for a first date. But see the previous post on this subject in my journal. I had messaged this person a *single* time and said maybe 2 dozen words to them. What they did *was* over the line.

-the redhead-
The Teasegentlemaitresse on July 13th, 2003 02:54 pm (UTC)
I did mention that the girl was likely a troll, but I don't intend to continue posting about it. I just want the issue to die, but apparently others want to squeeze all the drama they can out of the situation. LOL

I thought it was pretty funny that one guy actually friended her based on those pics. I read her journal and there wasn't anything interesting there. Ah well... it takes all kinds.

Now, as for "investigating" someone you've only messaged once, maybe that is a little over the top. I'm the curious type, though, and likely to do a search on someone just because I'm interested.