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View Full Version : OT - Anonymity is no guarantee in online postings


broncosteven
02-15-2010, 07:32 PM
I know this is more geared toward news outlet forums but as I read this yesterday I thought of this place and the recent personal attacks and thought this would be a good read for everyone here.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-met-anonymous-internet-posters-20100212,0,7539146.story

Jeff Camacho uses an online handle when he spouts off about five times a day on the comment boards of newspaper Web sites. But the computer repairman realizes one of the often-overlooked truths of posting: His identity is easily uncovered.

"As long as the newspaper is not selling my information to marketers, I really don't care," said Camacho, 45, of Cary. "A lot of people think they're anonymous online. You're really not."

Write something threatening or defamatory and the mask of anonymity can be removed. It's technologically simple to track the source of a comment; the more difficult question is when it should be done.

Policies vary as much as the Web sites that create them, and when site operators do reveal the identity of anonymous commenters, they balance values such as free speech, public safety and the ability to foster an online community.

"If people are afraid that some editor is going to look behind the administrative interface, then (they) won't come and talk on the site, and they certainly won't be as willing to talk about controversial topics," said David Ardia, director of Harvard Law School's Citizen Media Law Project.

Often, though, courts can force the unveiling. If subpoenaed, most Web operators can produce a poster's IP, or Internet protocol, address, which usually can be traced back to an Internet provider or commenter.

In a typical scenario, someone makes a comment alleged to be defamatory. That's what happened when Lisa Stone, a Buffalo Grove village trustee, took offense to a posting on a Daily Herald site by someone calling himself "Hipcheck16."

The comment, made to Stone's 15-year-old son, insinuated the teen made a habit of inviting strange men to his home.

"Or do they usually invite you to their house?" Hipcheck16 added.

An appalled Stone sought the writer's identity in court, and a judge ruled in November that she should be told the commenter's name. The poster's attorney has appealed. Stone said she believes the man, identified as "John Doe" in court documents, would never have made the comments to her son's face.

"I would say that he was very confident that (his identity) couldn't be discovered," Stone said.

While complying with subpoenas isn't unusual, some argue the ease with which an ID can be acquired should be made clearer to those using comment boards.

News organizations everywhere are untangling these issues. Decisions at the Tribune are made individually, said Karen Flax, assistant general counsel for the Tribune Company. She said that, even under subpoena, the company will try to inform a commenter before releasing information about him or her, something the Tribune's Terms of Service permits.

Flax says the Tribune has been subpoenaed more than once for information about anonymous posters, including civil cases where people felt they had been defamed and criminal cases where someone may have witnessed a crime.

"We would always try to give time to let the poster go (to court) and quash" the subpoena, Flax said. There may also be instances where the news organization determines the commenter was acting as a news source and the company could elect to fight to protect the person's privacy, she said.

Add to the complicated stew of issues an Internet culture of free-wheeling commentary, and the results can be unpredictable.

"There are purists who think the Internet is a fundamentally different medium and that the old rules that is, vetting letters to the editor should not be applied to comments," says Jim Hopkins, a former reporter based in San Francisco who runs several media blogs. "I've been hit with the same criticism. If you limit these comments in any way, (critics say) you're engaging in censorship."

Those judged guilty of violating a poster's privacy can be sentenced to serious digital scorn. A good example is Kurt Greenbaum, an editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who tipped off the employer of an anonymous commenter who posted an offensive statement on the paper's Web site.

Greenbaum posted a question last November on a blog on the Post-Dispatch site asking, "What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten?" One commenter, according to a post Greenbaum later wrote, replied with a vulgarity. Greenbaum reported he deleted the post, but it popped up again from the same user.

This time he used the Internet protocol address to contact the place where the comment originated, a school. Officials tracked down the poster, an employee, and confronted him. The man resigned, Greenbaum reported in a blog post titled: "Post a vulgar comment while you're at work, lose your job."

Hundreds of comments excoriating Greenbaum were posted on the newspaper's site as well as on Greenbaum's personal blog posts on the topic.

Greenbaum declined to comment for this story, but Bob Rose, deputy managing editor of online and production for the Post-Dispatch, said the paper even considered calling police at one point after the "volume and intensity" of the criticism reached a fever pitch.

"Did I overreact?" asked Greenbaum in a later post. "Maybe I did. I am constantly frustrated by the difficulty of dealing with this kind of language."

Although some lament civility's demise online, Chris Tolles holds a more liberal view. Tolles is CEO of Topix.com, which he said posts between 120,000 and 150,000 comments a day.

"Enabling people to say what they will," he said, "makes for a better society in the long run, because it means people have to have a thicker skin (and) it means a lot of things come out that wouldn't have come out."

Ultimately, Camacho, the frequent poster from Cary, knows some may not like what he writes. Camacho, who asked not to be identified by his online handle, says he'll keep commenting online and defending the rights of others to express their own controversial or silly opinions.

"Whether people want to hear it or not," he said, a commenter "does have the right to say something stupid."


More info here:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-met-anonymous-internet-posters-20100212,0,7539146.story

Dr. Broncenstein
02-15-2010, 07:52 PM
Everyone reading this can suck mah baws... biatches.

gyldenlove
02-15-2010, 07:58 PM
It is not that hard to circumvent. Hack into someone else's internet connection, use one of the many free MAC spoofs and log into a proxy server first. With a little bit of elbow grease you can make it very difficult for them to find you.

broncosteven
02-15-2010, 08:01 PM
It is not that hard to circumvent. Hack into someone else's internet connection, use one of the many free MAC spoofs and log into a proxy server first. With a little bit of elbow grease you can make it very difficult for them to find you.

Ya but do you want to do all that to tell someone to go F themselves in their B-day thread?

Killericon
02-15-2010, 08:05 PM
Yeah, anyone who thinks they're anonymous online is fooling themselves. Privacy online is a joke. It's all over.

gyldenlove
02-15-2010, 08:10 PM
Ya but do you want to do all that to tell someone to go F themselves in their B-day thread?

Nah, I am too lazy for that ****, just saying it is a possibility - that is why good hackers are hard to catch.

loborugger
02-15-2010, 08:41 PM
Dude, they are working on routing all the internet thru the Pentagon and having all of us have a license to allow us to use the net. Dont think for a minute that any of this stuff is private.

And to reinforce that there is always the great OM Steve Tensi debacle.

broncosteven
02-15-2010, 08:44 PM
Dude, they are working on routing all the internet thru the Pentagon and having all of us have a license to allow us to use the net. Dont think for a minute that any of this stuff is private.

And to reinforce that there is always the great OM Steve Tensi debacle.

That is what I thought about when I read this at the kitchen table.

I wonder how many times Taco has had to respond to reporters request for comments on the incident.

baja
02-15-2010, 08:58 PM
I have sling box device for my computer come look for me and you will find only a garage with a phone line and a sling box transmitter oh and a big fuccking dog lives there too. ;D

Taco John
02-15-2010, 09:32 PM
That is what I thought about when I read this at the kitchen table.

I wonder how many times Taco has had to respond to reporters request for comments on the incident.



I got plenty of calls and email pings on that one. My only comment was that I respect the privacy of the posters here, and that any information that anyone reveals about themselves online in a publicly accessible forum is their responsibility.

I try to do what I can to keep people from posting personal information of others. I remember when people found out that Tatum Bell was working at a Sprint store, someone posted that number. I was upset over that. Call spamming someone at work is not how I'd like to see this forum used.

If I got subpoenaed for that information, I'd probably cooperate though. If I've got courts sniffing up my skirt because some one's dumb ass made threats or revealed a crime, or whatever - I mean, what am I going to do? Fight it? Ahahahahaha!

But I'm typically going to make someone go through the trouble of subpoenaing the information. I'm not here to volunteer people's personal information.

Taco John
02-15-2010, 09:36 PM
Interesting story, by the way, BroncoSteven. It reminds me that I haven't had a death threat in my PMs in about three years.

Kaylore
02-15-2010, 09:37 PM
I'm Batman.

Dagmar
02-15-2010, 09:40 PM
Interesting story, by the way, BroncoSteven. It reminds me that I haven't had a death threat in my PMs in about three years.

You get death threats? Seriously? Cannot tell if you are joking,

Rabb
02-15-2010, 09:41 PM
Interesting story, by the way, BroncoSteven. It reminds me that I haven't had a death threat in my PMs in about three years.

it's early in 2010 yet and the bannings are just starting to get to cruising speed

bombay
02-15-2010, 10:02 PM
That story about a guy getting fired for saying 'pussy' caused quite a stir at this St Louis Cardinals forum:

http://www.tippingpitchers.com/showthread.php?t=74649&highlight=kurt+greenbaum

watermock
02-15-2010, 10:08 PM
So a firewall is essentially worthless.

HAT
02-15-2010, 10:24 PM
So a firewall is essentially worthless.

Yes. Much like 75,023 of your posts.

Taco John
02-15-2010, 10:26 PM
You get death threats? Seriously? Cannot tell if you are joking,

Oh yeah. Absolutely.

One guy went so far as to send me an email with my address. It was my old address, but it was my address. Said he was going to come for me and my wife when we least expected it. That I didn't know what he was capable of - that sort of crap.

I wasn't too worried about it. It must have been at least 4 or 5 years ago now that I think about it. It was before Z was born. I didn't want to get involved in a legal situation with the guy, and had a strong sense that he was bull****ting, so I just banned his IP and sent his emails to the spam bin. But now I've got a duckling in the house and another on the way. I wouldn't hesitate to forward an IP to law enforcement on an issue like that if it were to happen again.

I've had a couple of anonymous ones sent via email. I've probably had 3 or 4 different death threats in my time as a forum Admin.

SouthStndJunkie
02-15-2010, 10:34 PM
Oh yeah. Absolutely.

One guy went so far as to send me an email with my address. It was my old address, but it was my address. Said he was going to come for me and my wife when we least expected it. That I didn't know what he was capable of - that sort of crap.

I wasn't too worried about it. It must have been at least 4 or 5 years ago now that I think about it. It was before Z was born. I didn't want to get involved in a legal situation with the guy, and had a strong sense that he was bull****ting, so I just banned his IP and sent his emails to the spam bin. But now I've got a duckling in the house and another on the way. I wouldn't hesitate to forward an IP to law enforcement on an issue like that if it were to happen again.

I've had a couple of anonymous ones sent via email. I've probably had 3 or 4 different death threats in my time as a forum Admin.

It blows my mind at how serious some people take this stuff....posting boards are supposed to be a fun outlet.

Natedogg
02-15-2010, 10:55 PM
Oh yeah. Absolutely.

One guy went so far as to send me an email with my address. It was my old address, but it was my address. Said he was going to come for me and my wife when we least expected it. That I didn't know what he was capable of - that sort of crap.

I wasn't too worried about it. It must have been at least 4 or 5 years ago now that I think about it. It was before Z was born. I didn't want to get involved in a legal situation with the guy, and had a strong sense that he was bull****ting, so I just banned his IP and sent his emails to the spam bin. But now I've got a duckling in the house and another on the way. I wouldn't hesitate to forward an IP to law enforcement on an issue like that if it were to happen again.

I've had a couple of anonymous ones sent via email. I've probably had 3 or 4 different death threats in my time as a forum Admin.
http://www.kdvr.com/media/photo/2008-12/3279397.jpg
http://www.insidesocal.com/bargain/SubwayFootlong.jpg

watermock
02-15-2010, 10:59 PM
Yes. Much like 1,126 of your posts.

http://www.orangemane.com/BB/image.php?u=740&dateline=1263962358

(Possibly the most embarrasing moment ever for a Bronco coach),other than almost getting into a fight with a SD player.

Must of gotten lessons from Cutler, huh...

ZONA
02-15-2010, 11:26 PM
You all are F'n gaylords. Now come find me you losers, hahahahaa.

TheReverend
02-15-2010, 11:45 PM
Oh yeah. Absolutely.

One guy went so far as to send me an email with my address. It was my old address, but it was my address. Said he was going to come for me and my wife when we least expected it. That I didn't know what he was capable of - that sort of crap.

I wasn't too worried about it. It must have been at least 4 or 5 years ago now that I think about it. It was before Z was born. I didn't want to get involved in a legal situation with the guy, and had a strong sense that he was bull****ting, so I just banned his IP and sent his emails to the spam bin. But now I've got a duckling in the house and another on the way. I wouldn't hesitate to forward an IP to law enforcement on an issue like that if it were to happen again.

I've had a couple of anonymous ones sent via email. I've probably had 3 or 4 different death threats in my time as a forum Admin.

Idk how many times I have to apologize before you let it go.

baja
02-15-2010, 11:45 PM
You all are F'n gaylords. Now come find me you losers, hahahahaa.

East Diamond St. Mesa, Arizona

DHallblows
02-16-2010, 12:00 AM
http://images.encyclopediadramatica.com/images/c/c9/Good_Luck_I%27m_Behind_7_Proxies.jpg

theAPAOps5
02-16-2010, 12:21 AM
All I have to say is that Hotrod posted that phone number. I never posted Tatums cell phone ever and I stand by that to this day. Yeah I am going with the Tiger Woods stance here. It was the first neg rep both Hotrod and I ever got from Taco. It was a bad choice.

I have since learned my own lesson about the lack of anonymity in the internets. For a while I ran an aviation blog just for the fun of it. Well my work picked up on a story I wrote that the Seattle Intelligencer republished and I was almost fired. And it was a positive story. Thats how freaked out people are on what is said on the internet.

I shut my site down in a matter of hours and in the end didn't get any punishment because they didn't have a real policy on blogs. But it was an eye opener.

Mr.Meanie
02-16-2010, 08:46 AM
http://images.encyclopediadramatica.com/images/c/c9/Good_Luck_I%27m_Behind_7_Proxies.jpg

:rofl:

broncosteven
02-16-2010, 11:33 AM
All I have to say is that Hotrod posted that phone number. I never posted Tatums cell phone ever and I stand by that to this day. Yeah I am going with the Tiger Woods stance here. It was the first neg rep both Hotrod and I ever got from Taco. It was a bad choice.

I have since learned my own lesson about the lack of anonymity in the internets. For a while I ran an aviation blog just for the fun of it. Well my work picked up on a story I wrote that the Seattle Intelligencer republished and I was almost fired. And it was a positive story. Thats how freaked out people are on what is said on the internet.

I shut my site down in a matter of hours and in the end didn't get any punishment because they didn't have a real policy on blogs. But it was an eye opener.

Wow, you must have an InteRNetS Tubing Gremlin haunting you with all that bad luck.

theAPAOps5
02-16-2010, 12:38 PM
Wow, you must have an InteRNetS Tubing Gremlin haunting you with all that bad luck.

Well you make your own luck. Some of it was poor wording, we all know what I mean. The second was management freaking out over a little story about my daily job. I don't regret it but given the economy and having a kid I took it down rather than fight it.

The best part was it wasn't even the Seattle PI staff that published it. They have a section for readers to post personal blogs and thats where it was. But it was a lesson on how fast things get around and back to you!

watermock
02-16-2010, 12:41 PM
My biggest fear is if I blog, I'll eclipse Glen Beck.

Garcia Bronco
02-16-2010, 12:50 PM
ya but do you want to do all that to tell someone to go f themselves in their b-day thread?

lol

Mr.Meanie
02-16-2010, 01:02 PM
My biggest fear is if I blog, I'll eclipse Glen Beck.

sadly I wouldn't be shocked one bit

theAPAOps5
02-16-2010, 01:27 PM
A daily blog called The Mind of Watermock would be epic!

baja
02-16-2010, 01:43 PM
A daily blog called The Mind of Watermock would be epic!

I agree but we already have that right here on the Mane.

theAPAOps5
02-16-2010, 01:48 PM
I agree but we already have that right here on the Mane.

Yeah but the greatness is sprinkled far and wide over the OM. One consolidated insight daily of what his thoughts are would be epic!

baja
02-16-2010, 01:51 PM
Yeah but the greatness is sprinkled far and wide over the OM. One consolidated insight daily of what his thoughts are would be epic!


You can not corral genius.

Blueflame
02-16-2010, 02:22 PM
A daily blog called The Mind of Watermock would be epic!

I'd subscribe to it. :thumbsup:

Br0nc0Buster
02-16-2010, 03:47 PM
Mock's genius should only be used for good, in the wrong hands, his superior knowledge could be dangerous