practical experience, FTW
online forum experiences
I am looking for people who have had bad experiences after sharing personal information in online forums. How were you put at risk (financially, physically or emotionally) after posting?
This is for an article that I am planning to propose to a magazine. I am still in the querying stage and am looking for one or two examples.
For replies, please PM me. Or post here if you'd like. I'll check both places.
I DON'T plan to use real names (if I get the assignment -- big IF) so you don' t have to worry about privacy.
Thank you very much!
Some harrassment and being lied to over the web, but then I don't give out tel or home addy or sensitive info so I just blocked the assh*le.
Yeah I've had plenty of nasty abuse ( usually for daring to have an opinion that is at odds with the abuser).
But never having given out anything more specific than my home town, I've had nothing else. Not many people I know would give ANY personal info out on the web.
"Fade to Black is a dynamic and original introduction to a world and character that promise further exciting stories". British Fantasy Society
The series has grown in complexity since the beginning, reaches a profoundly moving conclusion that is both unexpected and entirely satisfying - Publisher's Weekly
I have one I've told publicly before. Once more, with feeling!
I was a moderator at a special interest chat which did not welcome anyone under 21. (Its previous incarnation was pretty much ruined by teenagers, I understand.) HarmlessHarry* kept overriding the auto-censors to include fairly raw language, which the chat did not allow. (He'd write things like sh!t or fvck.) As moderator on duty, I warned him several times. He stopped doing it--when I was moderating.
But one day I'd dropped down from moderator status, leaving the chat without a moderator temporarily while I talked privately with a friend. HarmlessHarry didn't notice me well down the alphabetized member list. He started up with the not-allowed language immediately. I said, "Knock it off, Harry" and his response was, "Holy fvck, there's a mod!" So I banned him. Enough, already.
HarmlessHarry did not take this well. He contacted the chat's owner via email, and she backed me up.
The next part is mostly hearsay, and I didn't learn about it until well after it happened. HarmlessHarry emailed and instant messaged his friends from the chat. He learned my real first name (which is fairly unusual) from one, the general area I lived in from another, the nearest city to me from someone else, the name of the grocery store I shopped at from another person, obtained a photo of me (which I had posted to a private group, not accessible to anyone but other mods) from a mutual friend, and so on. He also gathered information about the chat's owner, who is far more findable because she's an on-air reporter for a TV network in a major market.
A short time later, HarmlessHarry's wife emailed everyone in his address book. Harry had stopped taking his medications weeks ago, she'd just learned, including diabetes medication and antidepressants. He'd left home without explanation, and his handgun was not in its place. She feared he meant to harm someone. Did anyone know where he was? Had they heard from him? An acquaintance from chat told me about the email. I was disturbed, but not enough to call the police. I didn't know at the time how much information he'd gathered.
HarmlessHarry shot himself in a motel room about 80 miles from where I live. As far as I know, he never learned my last name.
And that is why I never, ever use my full real name online. Eventually, I'll piss somebody off, and you never know who's off their medication and genuinely deranged and dangerous.
* HarmlessHarry is similar to his real user name, but I've changed it
Originally Posted by Maryn
That's definitely up there. There are a lot of crazies out there. I just make use of the ignore button, but your story makes me wonder. Doeraymee, you might google cyber bullying. It actually is a real problem.
Aww, Maryn. I hate hearing a story like this...though it should be told. I just hate that this happened to you. Tres creepy.
Waaaaaaaay on the other end of the spectrum... I belong to another forum in which things get testy quite a bit. People are allowed to post anonymously, although the majority do not--most post first and last names. A number of times when flaming has gone more than toasty, posters give their telephone number and directions to their homes. Really.
Oh wow ... for my spam-fighting efforts (I'm mentioned in the book "Spam Kings" as one of the anonymous persons) I attracted the attention of a local scammer and spammer I outed. Using some online information he managed to find out who I was ... my name is uncommon. I had the info he used removed from the sites that had it, and also from any archives of those sites.
He called me once, blustering about how he knew where I lived and could make my life miserable. I told him that any further contact would be considered harassment and be reported to the police, then hung up. He never called back.
He had my phone, water, electricity and gas turned off a few times by calling the companies ... I put a password on all the accounts. Then he sent a female to the gas company, pretending to be me, using a fake driver's license, trying to get the account turned off. The clerk looked at the account, spotted the password and asked for the password. Whoever she was, she bolted out of the office and the gas company called me to let me know.
He never showed up at my residence while I was there - I lived in a reputedly "rough neighborhood" and he might have been afraid to visit the wrong side of the tracks.
ADDING: I did not "share" the info on any forum. He did some fairly easy sleuthing and connected some dots and came up with my real name. Those public dots have been removed from the Internet ... it would take subpoenas to connect anything now.
Last edited by Tsu Dho Nimh; 02-06-2008 at 11:29 PM.
Reason: adding info