Post #2 — Online Privacy? Sure.

29 01 2008

When I started working as a youth services librarian last year, I changed my Myspace profile to private. The idea was I didn’t want the kids to find my photos — like the one of me and the beluga whale, for example — and a.) make fun of me (it hurts, OK?) or b.) draw horns and mustaches on them and then make fun of me (funnier, but still painful).

Unfortunately, I forgot one little problem with online privacy. It’s pretty much non-existent. I doubt the kids would actually care enough to try and hack pictures from my site, but this article at wired.com reminded me that nothing is private in cyberspace.

To sum up the article: Someone known as “DMaul” hacked into MySpace’s private profiles and stole a bunch of photos. Then DMaul made the photos available through Pirate Bay, a site for downloading pirated material. So far, 6,700 people have downloaded the file, which turned out to be a lot less exciting then they were hoping for (baby showers, weddings, anniversaries…).

I wouldn’t exactly die of embarrassment if my beluga whale shot circulated throughout the world. But the point is, there’s always someone who knows how to get your “private” information if they really want it. When asked why he stole the photos, DMaul said he was trying to prove the point that “it is ridiculous to think that there is privacy on public websites.”

Ouch. I am officially ridiculous. Definitely a learning moment for me that I intend to share with the social-networking teens at my library.

-Laura

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7 responses

29 01 2008
Woeful

Congratulations on being a newly minted YA librarian!

Sadly, in many ways privacy is a thing of the past. From social networks, to government surveillance. Recently, I read a good post over at blyberg.net regarding this. It’s worth a look.

29 01 2008
ginnybelle

You and I talked a little about this in class last night, but this is an important reason to watch what you say online. Last week I kind of ranted about some stuff that was happening at work on my personal blog. I’ve tried to take steps to separate the personal blog from the public one, but if someone really wanted to know who (screen name here) was, they could find out pretty easily.
Not only could a rant get someone in trouble, it also looks unprofessional.
Thanks for highlighting this important issue.
And I’d love to see your whale photo 😉

Renee

4 02 2008
ccarro7

I refused to sign up for a MySpace or Facebook page until just recently for many of the same reasons you stated. However, I decided to “give up” and get a Facebook account since so many of my friends are on there, and I no longer live near them. I tried to make my account as person-less as possible, so my students (or other scammers or the government) wouldn’t be able to find out much about me, but I know my efforts are futile. Almost all of my personal information is on the web somewhere anyway. If someone really wanted to take the time to steal my identity, etc., s/he could.

However, I think this is something our younger patrons (YAs) need to be more aware of. So many of my students think they are invincible. But even with a false identity on the web, they are revealing too much about themselves to people they don’t know.

9 02 2008
mstephens7

So is it our job to teach digital literacy? 🙂

2 03 2008
Mike

Yes Mr. Librarian you got that thing right : there is nothing known as private on internet. So, if you want to enjoy the cyberspace then try to remove the word from your dictionary 🙂

2 03 2008
Mike

And you should not keep your private data on any of your profiles such as that of myspace or facebook.

24 03 2008
mstephens7

Your last line is priceless! The folks at some libraries need to think that way!

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