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Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Posts Tagged ‘internet safety

To be skeeved, or not to be skeeved? That is the question.

with 6 comments

I’m trying to determine if the below exchange should elicit skeeved-ness, or if this is just what happens when you share your iTunes library in public places and are stupid enough to have your name on your music library and your Facebook profile.


The scene: a public coffee shop with wi-fi, Iowa, USA. The place is packed with college kids.

The actors: Me and a fellow I will call GB, because those are his initials.

The situation: I default to having my iTunes library shared. I am working away at aforementioned coffee shop, when I get a Facebook message from GB. I have never met this person before. I am surprised, shocked…and, well, here’s how it went down

GB: Do you know that your songs are shared at (coffeshop) right now?

NF: I generally keep the sharing on; why not? But I guess I’m skeeved enough to turn it off for now…hello, BTW, across the room.  (mildy shocked, turning iTunes sharing off, IDing person sitting across room)

GB: not sure where you are … can’t recognize your picture … I guess I am not only brown dude here … easy to recognize me … hope did you scare you by sending the message … I see you like punk … I was listening to them … hope u did not mind it much

NF: oh, what the hell. I’ll turn it back on. Nah, I guess not bothered. Just, um, surprising, I guess. (recognizing fear response, thinking it unnecessary, turning sharing back on; also grabbing his ip address for some reason or another)

GB: Hey Thanks … sorry again… I think I may feel better if could formally introcude myself to you … as I have not idea who you are … but I already know what types of songs you like … 🙂

NF: I think I’m better now. No worries. Sharing is fun.

GB: Looks like you are sharing lot more music now … thanks … listening to someone’s music, I wonder whether it is possible to tell how that person is … interesting idea … think about it … ha ha … This is funny – I don’t know how you look like or who you are but music wise I can take a guess what type of person you could be …On the otherhand, you know how I look like but don’t know what type of person I could be … 🙂

NF: (ignores for 3+ hours; turns sharing off before leaving)

GB: Ahh … you took away some music again … btw: I narrowed you down to one of three girls now …

NF: (skeeved now. paranoia sets in. calls husband to alert him leaving coffee shop and to expect me home.)

(end scene)

Here’s the truth of it: I believe in being social on the Internet. I blog under my name, I tweet under my name. I generally try to be safe – I don’t use location-based services, I try not to disclose too much personal information online, but realize we all make mistakes (e.g. My name was on my iTunes library; this has since been anonymized). Was I too friendly in the above; was I too defensive: and who the hell wouldn’t think “you know how I look like but don’t know what type of person I could be” is creepy, creepy, creepy. Some have said that perhaps GB was trying to teach me about privacy; I say there’s far less menacing ways to do so. In the interests of full disclosure and lest you think me too paranoid, I used to work for a domestic violence shelter and sexual assault center; stalking and crimes of violence are not abstractions to me.

Discuss, Internet. To be skeeved, or not to be skeeved? Beyond this exchange, how do you keep yourself safe online?


Written by nicolibrarian

April 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm

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