INTERNET PRIVACY – PART TWO
This blog is a follow on to a previous entry on Internet Privacy both here and on The Jamaica Inn. In that blog, I question the legitimacy of Privacy Issues on the Internet being hyped by the Media, especially within the context of Facebook and Social Networking. I firmly believe the only issue is a lack of education and pure laziness on the part of hysterical users who refuse to read even the instructions for managing their privacy.
But then it occurred to me that even with the most stringent of privacy controls & protocols, there is no true privacy on the Internet. At least, not anymore, with the Social Networks, GPS tracking and Location Based updates.
It is not a secret that I have a fairly open Internet Presence, to the chagrin of my family & friends. It never used to be that way. Prior to 2004, my Real Life and Internet personalities were clearly demarcated; so much so, that no one in my real life had any true knowledge of my Internet activities. Likewise, my Internet relationships had no true knowledge of my real life. It was easy to manage and for over 10 years I was able to keep my dual lives completely separate. In the past 18-months to 2 years, that demarcated space has slowly disintegrated so that o amount of management or vigilance can sufficiently protect my identity.
In an unusual twist, there are only a handful of people in my life at the moment, who know the sketchy details surrounding my current circumstance. There is no one person who has all of the pieces to the picture, because I have only let slip vague commentary on what is happening with me. This is unusual because my life, my activities and most certainly my opinions are broadcast far and wide on a regular (ie daily!) basis.
My management of my Social Network, both virtual and in person, ties into my management of privacy. I learned early on, when the Internet was in its infancy, that there is no way to be truly private. Even back then, any shrewd Techie had the means to identify you online, despite the use of “handles” which were used to protect your identity. Today, it is even easier to uncover the identity of just about anyone using the internet. Unless of course you employ reverse psychology – provide so much information that it’s nearly impossible to determine what is real and what is made up, what is true and what is speculation.
When Social Networking first emerged (MySpace/Facebook) I was chagrined to find that my real name and location were a requirement to create an account. For about six month, I agonized over how to keep my online personas managed. After about a year of this angst, I realized my efforts were futile, there was no way to truly remain private if I wanted to remain connected with my Real Life Friends and Family. I continued my ridiculous privacy management, until 2007 when, during an interview at Zappos.com, I discovered Twitter.
For the first few months I did not Tweet or really use the service at all other than to secure my account and keep it active. In the four years since I joined Twitter, a lot has changed making Privacy management nearly impossible. As of 2011, the lines distinguishing my personal, professional and online persona blurred, then disintegrated so that even the most computer illiterate person could easily “connect the dots” (I am referring specifically to Employment Recruiters who seem to me to be the most technically illiterate individuals I have ever encountered).
By 2009, after several people I worked with decided to do an extensive search on my Name and online activities, I decided to employ the reverse psychology methods mentioned above. Since I could not keep my life private without abandoning the Internet all together (not an option), it made sense to me that flooding my Social Networks with misinformation was the only way to control the Truth and thereby ensure my privacy. Politicians do it, Media does it, even the Government does it, so why shouldn’t I?
As of today, my methods have been working quite nicely. A recent comment to me validated that my technique works: “The things you post are so all over the place no one really knows what your beliefs or political position really is, you make it so confusing”
Right now, a simple Google or Yahoo search on my Name shows just how “all over the place” I really am. By design. It has taken 18 months to get the search on my name to return the schizophrenic results I have been aiming for; previously it took multiple searches with multiple variations to get these frenetic results.
Searching Twitter is even worse. Am I a Liberal? Am I a Conservative? Do I align with the Democrats or the Republicans? Am I a moral individual or am I morally corrupt? Did I survive cancer or am I still “sick”? Am I a Feminist or am I anti feminism? Do I have a career or am I unemployed?
There is really no clear answer. Only those people whom I interact with In Real Life on a daily basis know for sure.
I guess that’s why I think the Privacy Issue is just noise distracting from real issues that truly matter.
Many of my friends have been aghast when they discover a new Truth about me. I am warned time and again that “people” will make judgments about me that are not true and do not reflect the true me. But what if that is my intention? What if those knee-jerk judgments are my own personal filter to weed out truly stupid, narrow minded people? Yes, in both professional and personal interactions – do you really want to work for some one who makes knee-jerk judgments? You really want a narrow minded fool being in control of your performance reviews and your salary bonus? The Idiot Filter is probably more important in the professional realm than it is in the personal. And what better way to determine just how uneducated your boss really is than by tracking them on Twitter? C’mon, you know they are tracking you!
Facebook and Twitter have provided the entry point for the truly stupid to flood the Internet and by extension, facilitate the Pulpit of Ignorance these individuals love stepping up to and falling off of – like toddlers on the Big Slide in the playground. “Hey, let’s do that again!” Just take a look at the recent bruhaha created by Sarah Palin and her Paul Revere revisionist history – her devout followers are actually rewriting history to be in linewith Palin’s clear ignorance of American History.
For example, in the past few months, my Twitter account has several new followers who have clearly no idea who they are following. Branches of the Christian Coalition and ultra Conservative Groups including Tea Party People have clicked the “follow button”. Why? Because I recently came out against Planned Parenthood due to the poor quality treatment women with Endometriosis have received from that organization in the past 10 years. I guess these people believe my expulsion from the Liberal Big Tent will naturally lead me to their own cause. Yea right, let me just get my burkha.
I am now convinced more than ever before, that the Conservative movement is filled with uneducated, hypocritical individuals who are too stupid to care about their own well being. They have absolutely no regard for their own Freedoms, their own Rights and their own Financial security. This is not withstanding a complete betrayal of the tenets of their own Faith – why in the world are “devout Christians” following a self admitted Liberal Pagan Woman whom they don’t even know?
Sure I have quite a few Christian friends who are incredibly devout in their Faith – but these people know me personally, in person, In Real Life. They know I believe the abhorrent treatment of women in the Christian Faith is nothing short of misogyny, they know I believe anyone claiming to be a Spiritual Leader is just another corrupt thief scamming believers out of their money, and they also know that I am just another Gnostic, a Mary Magdalene believer, a Sacred Marriage believer, hiding behind Goddess Worship within the Pagan Movement.
These Christians and Conservatives have no idea who I really am because I have thrown so much information against the wall no one can really determine what I really believe or who I really am. Even Liberals have made knee jerk judgments about me – hence the eviction from the Big Tent. I have, by sheer force of will and the manipulation of data, designed it that way. Call it a dis-information campaign for privacy.
Obviously, I do not espouse my techniques to anyone. The practices I employ are the result of 16 years of Internet Experience, both as a User and a Developer. Unlike the average Facebook/Twitter User, I know how to trace IP addresses, and how to identify a URL owner. Unlike the mediocre Internet User, I know how to code html (by hand no less!), and how to read Source code. But even armed with this knowledge, it is impossible to control Privacy by the nature of Social Networking. Previously tried & true methods of protecting privacy are useless in this new Frontier. New techniques and methods are required. In my case, I turned to the manipulation of data to protect myself. Sure, these methods are not conventional by any means, and most people would go so far as to say dishonest. But how honest is the person surreptitiously running Internet searches on people they don’t know?