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Social Network Users Have Ruined Their Privacy 308

Posted by Zonk
from the putting-it-all-out-there dept.
Steve Kerrison writes "'There's little point in worrying about ID cards, RFID tags and spyware when more and more people are throwing away their privacy anyway. And the potential consequences are dire.' I've written an article on the dangers of social networks and how many users seem to forget just how public the information they post can be. This follows a warning sent out by the CS department of Bristol University, advising students that they risk lost job opportunities, getting in trouble with their parents and more, if they don't take care. The warning, however, really applies to all social network users, be they college students or over-zealous blog posters."
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Social Network Users Have Ruined Their Privacy

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  • Keep in mind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denstark (979527) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:33AM (#17365904) Homepage
    There is a difference between throwing your freedom away, and having it taken away against your own will.
    • Re:Keep in mind (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Potor (658520) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {1rekraf}> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:10AM (#17366136) Journal

      That's true - unless social networking is being set up as a sort of honey trap encouraging people to compromise their futures. Hence, I would not stress this difference as a dichotomy - but rather as two moments of the same phenomenon.

      People are giving away their freedom within a now-corporate framework that encourages this kind of activity. Just remember that.

      As with fidelity/client cards, purchase-rewards, and fast-tracking at airports, the web 2.0 is training us to surrender our personal lives for the most meager of rewards. This kind of surrender almost seems propaedeutic for a greater, involuntary loss of privacy. But then again, Americans have already lost their freedom to credit reports.

      • "propaedeutic" - nice word
      • Privacy sucks. (Score:3, Informative)

        by MikeFM (12491)
        I think the reason why people throw away their privacy so easily is bcause privacy is a stupid concept anyway. What do you really gain from privacy? People can do what they want without other people knowing? Oh that's a good one - so instead of openly admitting and discussing things we allow silly tabboos to fester while we scurry around trying to hide our sins. We allow true crimes to stay hidden. We hide from ourselves and each other. Hell yes, gimme some of that.

        Stop hiding in the shadows. Step into the
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Potor (658520)
          When you call privacy stupid, you seem to be equating privacy with dirty secrets:

          Oh that's a good one - so instead of openly admitting and discussing things we allow silly tabboos to fester while we scurry around trying to hide our sins. We allow true crimes to stay hidden. We hide from ourselves and each other. Hell yes, gimme some of that.

          Privacy is simply what I want to keep quiet, for better or for worse.

          But even if I accept that you expand the realm of the secret beyond dirty secrets, your attitude

  • by catfood (40112) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:42AM (#17365954) Homepage

    News flash: If you say dumb things on the Internet, someone might notice.

    How this constitutes a hazard unique to "social networks" is neither explained nor hinted at.

    The article presents a non-issue wrapped in snark and hype.

    • Yeah, you know how to install an OS, ignore phishers, and you won't execute a virus or rootkit. So you're in a few percent of the internet 'consumers'.

      I wish he'd mentioned emails, too. Here's the lecture: Don't ever put something in an email that you wouldn't want everyone to read.

      Here's the more subtle lecture: Always send to your personal email account any work email involving you that you might want a copy of later for legal reasons... and if it's for very legal reasons, cc your personal email account
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:46AM (#17365974) Journal

    While the consequences may be as dire as you claim, this is not certain. Even if true, it may still be rational for people to tell all on the web.

    In the mid nineties a friend of mine who was putting a game-theory heavy education to work as a top notch security consultant claimed that we had passed a phase boundary and that privacy was essentially dead. At which point he started "living publicly," doing things like making his daily schedule (in detail) available to the world, sending all his receipts (for everything) to the IRS,etc.

    When challenged on this rather odd behavior, and asked what he was trying to prove and to whom, he replied that he wasn't trying to prove anything to anyone except perhaps himself. His thinking was that having no privacy isn't nearly as bad as having no privacy and not coming to terms with that fact. He then walked us through a few cases (such as blackmail) and showed whywhen you were better off not getting in the bind of acting as if you had secrets when in fact others knew them.

    Perhaps the MySpace people are at least subconsciously reacting in the same way to the growing threats to our privacy--by getting it all out there, so if anyone tries to use it against them they are effectively immunized.

    --MarkusQ

    • The privacy issue du jour in these past two decades has been homosexuality. You can't tell by looking at someone if they are gay. It shouldn't matter if they are or not, but many people (who I will declare as narrow minded pricks) do think it matters. Not only will these type of people judge homosexuals unfairly, another subset of these people may commit violence upon homosexuals.

      Employers can judge you for any number of reasons. Employers are also looking for any reason to filter you out and judge you
      • by MarkusQ (450076)

        You can't tell by looking at someone if they are gay. It shouldn't matter if they are or not, but many people (who I will declare as narrow minded pricks) do think it matters. Not only will these type of people judge homosexuals unfairly, another subset of these people may commit violence upon homosexuals.

        I might point out that you yourself seem to fall into your "narrow minded" category, since you obviously think it matters as well. You clearly wish it didn't, but that's neither here nor there.

        And,

      • "Society isn't open because there are too many closed minds." ...and the writer of this article is a fine example of a closed mind.

        "Then came what some people like to call 'Web 2.0'. On that wave of "let's pretend we've upgraded the Internet, LOL" came the social-networking websites... along with those terrible pages of drivel people like to call 'blogs'. It became cool to talk about mundane things and show other people what had been happening in your life. In essence, all the chat room goers had something
    • Perhaps the MySpace people are at least subconsciously reacting in the same way to the growing threats to our privacy--by getting it all out there, so if anyone tries to use it against them they are effectively immunized.

      Man, I wish I could agree with you, but I don't. The vast majority of MySpace "tell-all" users are either a) stupid kids who don't know any better and don't realize there are long-term (permanent) rammifications of what they post when they're 13 or b) stupid adults who *should* know bet

      • It doesn't have to be conscious.

        In other words, they could be just as clueless as you say and still be following a rational approach to a shift in privacy norms. This could be a result of low-level tendencies to "do the right thing" in changing social conditions or even a specific evolved response to exactly this sort of societal shift. There's no reason to suppose that they have to be going though any sort of conscious analysis, any more than we have to assume that sheep start each day asking themselve

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      >Perhaps the MySpace people are at least subconsciously reacting in the same way to the growing threats to our privacy--by getting it all out there, so if anyone tries to use it against them they are effectively immunized.

      Umm no. They're just trolling for booty.
    • I've been saying for a while now, "in order for Big Brother to be a problem, he has to care about you". While a lot of the things I've said online have been embarassing in retrospect, I haven't confessed to anything that could land me in jail, and I haven't done anything that will land me in jail. Beyond some anonymous person smirking at what an idiot they think I am, or perhaps a friend thinking I'm a bit odd, there are no real consequences to this stuff. Also, people first would have to know me, and do

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:46AM (#17365976)
    When posting something online about yourself consider is it something you'd want your mom, your boss, or a sex offender to know about. Why? Because all three of those will have access to it. If the answer is no in any case, then don't post it. Don't assume that they aren't savvy enough, Google has lowered the barrier so almost anyone can find what they want. Don't rely on technical protections of sites either, especially sites explicitly designed for sharing information.

    The web is public, that's just how it goes. Don't put personal information on it that you don't want the public to see, and yes your mom is part of the public.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Snorklefish (639711)
      I work for the courts (OMG IAAFL). It is understood that judges live under the spotlight. To avoid the risks created by the spotlight, the rule judges live by is to say nothing they wouldn't mind seeing on the front page of the newspaper... too many "private" conservations have created the downfall of too many judges and politicians. The thing about the internet... is that you never know when lighting will strike and make YOU the target of public interest.
      • I think that's a pretty good rule for anyone, though I can see why it's doubly so for judges and politicians...You never know when that one, off-the-cuff remark will be picked up out of context and trumpeted as proof that you're biased against

    • by Kjella (173770)
      When posting something online about yourself consider is it something you'd want your mom, your boss, or a sex offender to know about.

      The thing is, we don't live our lives in SCIFs (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) and most of the real compromises happen when artifial barriers you've built up are broken down. Yes, I have a "slashdot id" which is different from my real id, but it's not like friends and such don't know about it, it's not like it's a deep personal secret. And if you compile everyt
    • Don't rely on technical protections of sites either, especially sites explicitly designed for sharing information.

      Good point. This happened with Deja News - most people figured Usenet expired after a few weeks.

      Also, most sites' Terms of Service have elastic clauses. Some bankruptcy acquisitions have even sold off data as "assets" without ToS protections that were formerly afforded to the data. It would be nice if there were some case law establishing protection on this kind of data.
  • So what? Cry me a river, but how stupid do you have to be to put up embarrassing personal info and pictures damaging to your reputation, and then be surprised when they are used to be embarrassing and damaging?
    I had a friend who put up a simple myspace page, and thought it was anonymous, and was shocked when using just the nick and e-mail she had, i was able to trace it through other pages to get her home address and phone number. Took 3 minutes. People don't think. And no amount of legislation or news stories will change that.
    • by MoonFog (586818)
      Kids and teenagers have done stupid things througout every generation. They are simply incapable of seeing the consequences of their actions, whether it's driving way too fast on narrow roads ("there are never any other cars here") or if it's giving every info on their life to anyone who's willing to "listen" on the internet. This is nothing new is it? It's just a different approach that parents have to understand and inform.
    • by barzok (26681)
      They don't even need myspace. A few years ago we were weeding through resumes of college kids who wanted to interview with us, and many had URLs for their university webspace on them. We checked a couple out, and one of them had drunken pictures of the "candidate" front & center.

      Helped us narrow things pretty easily.
      • by Nimey (114278)
        On one hand, there's no guarantee that what people do on their own time affects what they do at work.

        On the other hand, what kind of utter fucking moron would do a thing like that? FFS, set up a separate page you give to potential employers.
  • so? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:48AM (#17365990) Homepage
    One of the benefits of having a more open and honest society will be the acceptance of practices most people do but few admit to doing. In this respect, social networks mean social progress.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bohemian72 (898284)
      Mr Kinsey? It's nice to know you're still around and kicking.
    • You are assuming that the information that people are posting is honest. What would have change from the pre-internet days, when people divulged what they wanted you to think about them, versus who they actually were? It happens all the time in ads for new homes and in personal ads, why would it be any different in blogs or postings elsewhere?

      Social networking doesn't do anything towards social progress, it just makes people feel protected in spouting their opinions, when in reality it has the opposite ef
  • This is bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by entrigant (233266) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:57AM (#17366052)
    Erosion of privacy is when personal details about your life are taken from you. It's when police chiefs talk about tapping everyones home or looking up library records without a warrant. If I willfully give away information about myself then I never did consider it very private then, did I? This crap about lost opportunities, while perhaps partially true in today's freakishly religious climate, will not be such an issue as these things become more common. This is absolute proof that the minority voice controls the world. Damn near everyone has to lie about who they are because they're afraid everyone else lives some higher "moral" standard and will look down on them. This is simply not true. Even the noisy types who push this false sense of morality on us hardly practice what they preach. As a global community develops and communication with the entire world becomes simple and cheap the world will shift as knowledge becomes free. You will no longer have to worry about losing your job because there is a picture of you with a joint on someones myspace page or your hair is dyed neon blue. The transition period will not be smooth, but I welcome the day. All this article does is beg us to continue living in fear of some invisible and nonexistent moral majority. I, for one, refuse.

    It is already happening. The company I work for was founded by two young entrepreneurs that grew up in the age where knowledge was free and they learned that masturbation won't cause hair to grow on your hands or your dick to fall off. They learned that the D.A.R.E. cop that told them the story of the young man who died from ONE hit from a joint was LYING. They realized that nobody else they grew up with believed this horseshit anymore either. They only care about your skill and your work ethic. As the younger generations start to take back this world it will become a better place to live because of the global community and available, simple worldwide communication.

    Do not fear it. Embrace it.
    • by aliquis (678370)
      I agree with you that I don't consider much private. I'm very open in forums and in private messages to unknown people (even thought that isn't open to everyone, but it's still pretty much information for being to an anonymous unkown receiver), but I don't give a shit. It's my life, thoughts, ideas, arguments and so on, take it or leave it. If you don't like it? Fine.

      21500 hits on google for the combination of my nick name and the forum I visit the most.
      1430 for the combination of my irc nickname and the wo
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mahler (171064)

      As the younger generations start to take back this world it will become a better place to live...

      This statement has been proven wrong so many times. The people frmo younger generations think they can do it so much better, but in the end the are still human and most of them lose their ideals when they get families and things are getting tough. And it will get tough one day... and the change of heart then seems to help them out in so many other fields that they'd rather not be so idealistic anymore, but rathe

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dangitman (862676)

      The company I work for was founded by two young entrepreneurs that grew up in the age where knowledge was free and they learned that masturbation won't cause hair to grow on your hands or your dick to fall off. They learned that the D.A.R.E. cop that told them the story of the young man who died from ONE hit from a joint was LYING. They realized that nobody else they grew up with believed this horseshit anymore either. They only care about your skill and your work ethic. As the younger generations start to take back this world it will become a better place to live because of the global community and available, simple worldwide communication.

      I dunno. The guys you are talking about probably grew up in the 60s or 70s, when idealism was very strong. This current generation of young people is scarily conservative, but even worse, they seem to be corporate whores. I wouldn't expect many of them to rock the boat in substantial ways. Sure, they may have their dyed hair, tattoos and their genital piercings, but that's just the new conformity - it doesn't demonstrate actual rebellion or subversion. Even those idealists from the 70s sold themselves out

  • by WWWWolf (2428)

    The only thing that the social networks can change is that previously, you could be an idiot and no one noticed until it was too late. Now, it's easy and fun to make your idiocy known to the world.

    I once got a job because someone saw me writing somewhat-smart-type comments on Usenet.

    If I had a web design company, I'd hire people who can make their MySpace page have interesting content, look good and pass W3C validation... =)

  • Change Your Name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:14AM (#17366154) Homepage
    I used to have a friend whose name was Robert Smith. I felt sorry for him, having such a common name. In today's world, it has its advantages. Anyone trying to dig up dirt on him with Google is going to have a difficult job.
    • Yeah, yeah... very tough - let's see:

      - Lipstick-wearer - "he was even sent home from school once for wearing his sister's make up to school";
      - Opium-taker; and
      - Described as being the "unkempt poster child of doom and gloom".

      Second link from a Google search [wikipedia.org] on your friend. I'd say that he's blown his privacy...

    • by hackrobat (467625)

      Yes... I am change my names to Borat Sagdiyev. WHY NOT?!!

    • by RyoShin (610051)
      I have to agree. Having a very common name can be helpful if HR tries to google it. I have this "blessing" myself. A very common first name and last name, as well as a very common combination.

      However, it's amazing what people can find if they have a little more than your name. I maintain a LiveJournal for my personal benefit (it's a good anger outlet) as well as to keep in touch with some of my friends, both online and off. In one post a year or two ago, I commented on my disgust with some of the professor
  • The quote from Bristol uni is sensible and even mildly interesting. After that, it's just another tired rant about blogs (some someone who appears to be using forum software to run his own blog, which doesn't help to convince that he "gets" blogs at all) and various other sites he clearly doesn't like.

    Obviously it's a dumb idea to post information you don't want published in public. Sites like MySpace have introduced a lot of newbies to social networking, and they'll take a while to get the hang of it, but

    • by Artifakt (700173)
      Obviously it's a dumb idea to post information you don't want published in public.

      I tend to agree overall, and certainly a lot of the cases we see with photos of drunken partying by underage beauty pagent contestants and such bears this out.
      But (you knew that was coming didn't you?) there's a very inobvious side to it. Society's standards for what's deplorable, offensive or un-cool change, especially over decades. What if, 20 years from now, anti-smoking movements have made toba
  • Privacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Elentari (1037226)
    Perhaps kids are just more open about their lives these days. It doesn't have to be a case of accidentally releasing information; most people are well aware that the things they post will be accessible to many, and they choose to do it.

    Things aren't "private" if they're willingly disclosed. Warning people against providing genuine home addresses, or phone numbers, via the internet is, perhaps, valid advice - however, teenagers regularly disclose mobile numbers to people they barely know in "real life" sce

  • I have created a family blog, and the blog entry page contains the following instructions:
    Friendly Reminder: "Would it be ok if this were published on the front page of the New York Times, taken completely out of context, along with your name and address?"
    Something to think about before every post.
    • by hackrobat (467625)

      For what it's worth, my blog has actually been quoted [livejournal.com] in the local newspaper (India), at least once (and maybe more because I don't read the newspaper). So it can (and does) happen.

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:31AM (#17366286) Homepage
    The right to privacy is an important one, because it provides us with refuge from totalitarian authority that would seek to enslave us, to use information about us against us. But even more important than the right to privacy is the right to live freely. One might say that the right to privacy is important insofar as it is one of the pillars that support the right to live freely.

    How can one live freely if one must hide behind privacy in order to avoid getting in trouble with various authorities? If one can only be a dissident, contrarian, or black sheep if one hides within the safe confines of one's own skull, is that not what we used to call in oldspeak "oppression"?

    I see a bolder way, in living openly, freely, and standing up against those who would punish us for exercise freedoms. To use an easy example, if recreational drug users were a unified voting block, they could take over the country in an election cycle. But because the law makes it dangerous to use drugs recreationally, users are forced to protect themselves with a shield of privacy (which has been steadily eroded by the war on drugs over the years). If everyone would just stand up and openly do what they believed in, they would not be politically isolated and would not be able to be pushed around.

    Similarly, the gay rights movement really started picking up steam only after people began coming out of the closet in droves. Privacy protected them, but it also contained and enslaved them. By stepping out into the public realm, they have forced society to deal with them, and through the necessary struggles that are still ongoing, have found increasing acceptance in our culture.

    It's true that if you are a fool, and do stupid things, and people find out about it, your life will become more difficult. But there is a difference between foolishness and good people standing up in order to live the lives they wish to choose. Let the fools of the world weed themselves out of the breeding population, but let oppressors and would-be oppressors everywhere quake at the thought of a brave world of proud, public freedom-weilding citizens who are unashamed to let the world see their lives in a warts-and-all nakedness, which really is more beautiful than the idealized, airbrushed nakedness once you realize that the latter is a hollow lie, and that truth is the only substance out of which we build our lives.
  • It's one thing to discard privacy in the name of a liberating freedom of expression, but with that you have to accept the fact that people now have the ability to make presumptions about you based on how this information is leaked to them and what information is true. If you make certain of revealing all of your dark secrets -- dirty sexual things, for instance -- then the latter is no longer a problem: they have the story. Now comes the disconnect, however, as a lot of people really aren't as open as you a
  • An example (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snorklefish (639711) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:49AM (#17366440)
    Not long ago, Skadhi Myers blogged [skatje.com] about anti-homosexuality attitudes in her high school. In doing so she quoted the bigoted facebook comments of jock and student body president Andrew Jallon:

    Okay this is really random but it has to deal with the comment about homosexuality issue that Sibley brought up. Honestly why must our country keep discussing this issue. We all know it's wrong and that it just shouldn't be that way. If you want to go with the same sex move somewhere else. Please before we ship yah off. Honestly just get rid of them and then we won't have this issue. Just ship them to Canada. But yah homosexuality is just wrong so just say no and get over it. It's never gonna be right so yah!!
    Then someone from ScienceBlogs linked to her post because it was well written and she's the daughter of P.Z. Myers... a fairly well known blogger. So the meme really picks up speed. The next thing you Andrew finds he's coming under attack for quotes he never expected to be disseminated across the continents.

    But reading the quote, one wonders who is this Andrew Jallon guy. Well, a quick google and you can see check out his discus and shotput attempts (not very good). PUBLIC real-estate tax records give a strong implication as to where he lives. And finally, Andrew Jallon's bigoted comments end up on Slashdot. Did he expect this? Should he have expected it. Should we all be paranoid about every post...lest someone take it and run?

  • by MoneyT (548795) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @10:06AM (#17366616) Journal
    Never. The only difference between now and The Good Old Days(TM) is the distance that information about you can be obtained from. Where as in TGOD(TM) you actually had to get off your butt and travel to the town a person lived in to have a chat with the local town gossips, now you just need to check google. But it's all the same. Small towns meant everyone knew everyone and all about them. Larger towns and cities gave us anonymity but people don't want that, so large cities breed loud and bold types to stand out so that people see them. The internet and social networking just makes it easier for us to stake our claim in the public square and let people know about us. In the end though, it's all the same, anyone interested can find out anything they want about you, they just have to search for it.
  • BIG difference! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @10:34AM (#17366912)
    On a blog, I can write what I want and give up as much or as little of my personal information and thus my privacy as I want. An RFID tag in my passport is forced onto me, with or without my consent.

    The key difference here is whether the person wants to give up his or her privacy. It's their decision. I'm a firm believer in personal freedom, and if someone wants to hold their naked butt into the webcam, together with their phone# and address, it's their decision.

    Today, more and more decisions are taken out of our hands to "protect us". I don't want to be protected. I want to be free. Freedom of choice is what makes us human. That's one of the few things I agree with with the bible boys. After all, according to them Adam ate from the tree of knowledge and thus we're forced to choose between good and evil.

    I kinda don't want to revert that.

    Let them choose. Inform them of the implications, but the choice is theirs.
  • I think we should re-think whether permanent archiving and full republishing of web pages should be permitted at all. Not only does it arguably conflict with copyright law, I think it also has a chilling effect on on-line discussions and free exchange of information.
  • It seems to be that anything that employers want to use to exclude you and depress wages they will do. That's common sense but in a way it's pretty creepy. After social networking, maybe they can say no based on where you live, or if any of your relatives are in jail, or the number of speeding tickets you have or your medical history.
    • by Big_Al_B (743369)
      Here's the thing. It's not really always about "The Man" oppressing the "little guy".

      Employers want employees to have good judgment, y'see. And it takes several layers of bad judgement to get weeded out of a job opportunity for having idiotic social network content.

      First Layer: Doing the stupid thing in the first place, be it drunkeness, lewdness, or a "brilliant" combination of those and some other stuff that's even more creatively asnine. This is a layer of irresponsibility obtained by many, many peop
  • by bryanp (160522) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @11:28AM (#17367450)
    This little tidbit from the blog of a LEO (sheriff). And yes, his boss knows about it and he doesn't say anything in it that he wouldn't want the whole world to know.


    Had a young gentleman put in an application at work last month. Looked sharp! Sounded sharp! Folks everywhere were all sorts of happy.

    Unfortunately, the officer doing the background checks put the applicants name into Google and came up with his MySpace account.

    Tip for the Wise: if you're going to apply at a Law Enforcement agency, take the paean to the Mighty Marijuana Plant off your MySpace page, along with the albums dedicated to photos of you imbibing the Wonder Weed in various ... interesting ... locations, hmm-'kay?
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#17367854) Homepage
    Social networking sites increasingly get you friends, appointments/engagements, and jobs. Yes, people who previously didn't might now exclude you based on the public information about you, but so many more people know about you and can connect with you that you may just be better off.

    What we're seeing is the tipping point at which the risks of giving up some kinds of privacy are overcome by the undeniable power of the network to create and maintain social circles (and all of the advantages that they confer) by uniting like-thinking folks at a rate never before seen.
  • Look, when posting blogodreck about something somebody wrote, link to the actual article. This is supposedly about an article written by Prof. Nigel Smart at the University of Bristol. And it doesn't have a link to the article, or any useful reference to it. It doesn't even link to Prof. Smart's home page.

    Here's Prof. Smart's home page. [bris.ac.uk]. He's a cryptographer, and one of the people behind elliptic curve cryptography, one of the alternatives to prime-number based systems. But I can't find any referenc

  • I think back to my growing up days and the dumbass things we used to do and say. It's part of growing up- you do stupid things until you figure out how to stop doing them. (Adults get to make more expensive stupid mistakes)

    But back then only our friends&family knew about it. I wiped out on my bike really badly once; I went home and Mom took me to the doctor and dentist to patch me up. These days someone would have filmed it and stuck it up on Youtube with a funny audio track. I said stupid things

  • Its Human Physc (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hades1010 (1040252)
    When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.
  • A prime example (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cloud K (125581) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:55PM (#17372766)
    Recently there was a manager of a local shop, he'd been shipped in from another part of the country to open a new store in the town where I work. Or I should say, used to work as I just moved onto another job myself.

    On his own private MySpace, he described the town as a "shithole". Somehow (mostly because it's one of those towns where everyone knows everyone else offline and online) this myspace entry got passed around and eventually quoted in the local newspaper. He subsequently received death threats from residents, caused a massive public outcry and got sent back to his hometown to be "dealt with internally" (presumably, lost his job.) Even though these were his own personal opinions on his own personal MySpace, those were the consequences.

    It wasn't just him hurt - the general public being as stupid as they always are, they chose to harass other employees from the same shop who had nothing to do with his views and didn't necessarily agree.

    One could easily argue that said town *is* a shithole, especially given the retarded way that its residents responded to what was a personal opinion on a social networking site that had nothing to do with the person professionally or his company. But in case anyone traces me back too (extremely trivial, I've given my website) - no, I'm not saying that it is ;)

    The lesson? I don't know. I guess it would be - lifestyle choices, getting drunk etc really shouldn't be a major problem. Everyone acts stupidly now and again. But think extremely carefully before you openly slag off other people or places online because without the appropriate care it has a good chance of getting back to them and you will suffer the consequences. By all means call the town you work in a shithole, but for goodness sake do it using a screen name on a site where you can't easily be traced back to yourself as an individual. The more sensitive the comment, the more precautions you should put in place.

    For the ultimate protection, never ever under any circumstances say anything that you don't want the entire world to hear and misinterpret. Now, that's practically impossible (I try to keep my personal website as close to that as possible though, and just a couple of weeks ago my interviewer commented on my weblog in the interview itself - I knew this was always likely due to the email address I use. It was positive. I got the job.) It's about weighing up the risks and whether you are prepared for the worst case scenario. If fragments of my previous paragraph got quoted (out of context) in the same paper, I'd be looking at similar problems - however given how late I am in posting a comment to this discussion, how few non-nerds bother to read Slashdot let alone the comments etc, I have made that calculated risk. In that worst case scenario, I'm ready to reply to the newspaper and point them to the full comment and make any necessary clarifications.

    The bottom line is that it's all about judgement. You should think about how your comment can be taken by different people, what the consequences would be, what the likelihood of that comment being used against you actually *is* and either don't make the comment in the first place or take a *calculated* risk. Not just go spouting anything and everything on the most public site on the internet. Kids are not so good at making those judgements, but then nobody should be having a go at you later in life for something that you wrote when you were 13 anyway. I'm talking about adults here.

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