How Anonymous Is An Anonymous Forum?

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Laks09, May 14, 2022.

  1. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    We all use all sorts of ways to obscure our data. We think the cloak of anonymity is granted in forums online. How anonymous are things said online?
    My take on it is very simple. Regardless of how much you change things about yourself and your location, if someone wants to find you, they will.

    Can an employer use things you say in forums? I live in the Reddest county in the reddest state in the country. We just got told to remove period trackers from our respective phones and delete all possible data from it. That's how much the state supreme court is going for. Do you think private employers are far behind?

    I wont assume anything I say online is safe. Don't assume the first amendment protects your free speech. The first amendment is here to protect you from the US Government. It isn't here to save you from an employer to takes actions because you said something online. Time and again, people have said and done things that have cost them.

    In a day and age where the POTUS ran his mouth online and got away with it, we probably think it's no big deal. Sadly, there are a lot of people who are finding out too late that their First Amendment right isn't protecting them. There are many who will tell you that things they posted online on Jan 6th is getting them in hot water with their employers and that's the least of their troubles. There is a group of people dedicated to finding folks from 1/6 based on image recognition software. Once they find the face and location, they can and do track their IP and anything they have posted anywhere. Even deleted posts and tweets are in the hands of the DOJ. Then their employers get notified and most employers don't want to be associated with their employees personal opinions and beliefs shared online. The end result is they get fired and can't go after the private employer for firing them.

    I used to think I live in the land of the First Amendment and that of the free and the brave. I didn't care who identified me with my posts. In the last two years, I have actually understood that I know nothing about Data and how anything you put out there is hard to erase. Knowing all this, I wonder why I said some of the things I said online in the past.

    Of course, this doesn't mean I'm going to stop posting completely. I'm definitely watching what I say.

    What are your takes on it? What steps are each of you taking to ensure you stay safe offline from what you say online?
     
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  2. Amica

    Amica IL Hall of Fame

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    We are marching inexorably to a dystopian future. The Handmaid's Tale comes to mind. I plan to speak my truth while I still can.
    .
     
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  3. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    Many employers will scour the social media and Google prospective employees. I participate in this forum and another local forum in my city that doesn’t even require registration. I stay away from loaded topics for the most part though. And my own social media feed is largely taken up with pictures of dogs.
    I would probably lose my mind living in a red state.
     
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  4. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My period app is already on the chopping block. What next, my Garmin data?
     
  5. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    It’s not about a particular state. Any employer doesn’t want to associate with the wrong kind comments online, even anonymous ones on forums where people use pseudonyms.

    Fox News was in the news a while ago for something. One of Tucker Carlson’s writers used a pseudonym to post something on online forums for years. Of course someone found out! Fox issued a statement saying they don’t condone any racist, misogynist and homophobic views and the writer was made to resign. Even Fox News doesn’t tolerate anonymous online rants.

    I’m not sure people are aware that anything is trackable.
     
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  6. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    Wait, why are period trackers under attack?
     
  7. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    You know the TX SB 8 that went into effect a few months ago? It puts a bounty on any woman who receives an abortion. Citizens can report women and collect $10k. That clubbed with the fact that the period tracking data isn’t protected by HIPAA and trackers have in the past sold data with users kept in the dark, has all started to raise red flags. Especially in a post Roe world in a deep red state.
     
  8. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    Truly dystopian.
     
  9. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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  10. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    How anonymous is an anonymous forum?
    Anonymity is like an insurance company. One finds out how good the company is only when one actually needs them.

    True. If someone wants to find you, they will. If someone wants to use what you say online, they will.

    I think yes. If an employer wants to disassociate itself from you for things said in an online forum, they will find verbiage in the employment contract to fire you.

    Life was simpler when I posted almost exclusively in the Relationship forum. : ) The most controversial a topic got there was men vs women, parents vs PILs, the good old most flogged horse of patriarchy or once in a while the poster who always ridiculed things Indian.

    It's hard to predict how any written or recorded word will be construed years down the line. It is easier to avoid saying things that will get one in trouble with one's current employer or line of work. But what if in the future one ran for local positions like City Council or the favorite of desis - board of trustees in a school district.

    How much should one watch what we say online? I don't know. As an example, if I post very strongly in favor of LGBTQ rights, maybe down the line I need the support of people who are more moderate or have the stance "keep it private, don't legalize it", then what do I do?

    It is the outraged but silent who need to speak up more in such matters. But, any speaking up can come back to bite you later. I don't know.

    Steps... almost five times each week I resolve to post less or only in FP .. : ) Jokes aside, the only things I try to avoid saying are what could impact my immediate family. In particular, if talking about my child, it will be something they won't mind seeing in my local discussion forums where we post with real names.

    Beyond anonymous forums, on a more general level, for a few years now, I've kept in mind that anything we put down in writing can be forwarded, will be forwarded. So, even in whatsapp etc, I might say the most personal things to a friend and take false comfort in "I deleted, can you also delete it?", but on controversial topics, I avoid saying things in writing. They can get quoted out of context and one pays the price with no chance of explaining. There is no such thing as a total and permanent delete.

    I don't know if this answers the questions. I consider myself as an act that's almost over. : ) The next generation has more need to watch out. College kids seem to have Discord or Slack or something servers in which they discuss their professors and school. I've tried telling my child -- post like your prof and employer can read the group.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2022
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