Monday, July 07, 2008

WTF of the Day: Yet another personal privacy violation

By LindaBeth

From the Daily Mail:

A woman claims her life has been ruined by someone who set up a Facebook website page in her name describing her as a vice girl.

Kerry Harvey, 23, says she received obscene pictures on her mobile phone and unsolicited calls from would-be ‘punters’.

The forged profile featured her photograph, correct date of birth, middle name and mobile number, listing her job as ‘prostitute’.

The Facebook page is down now, but this is especially disheartening:

She also reported the abuse to police but was told it would cost too much to track the culprit.

Not to mention this classic blame-the-victim:

‘Generally, people can try and avoid false profile pages by posting as little personal information as possible - not just on social networking sites but anywhere on the net.’

This is nearly impossible. A Google search of your name gets you your address very easily. And if you’ve ever done anything interesting enough to be reported in a newspaper, then be damned! We must not live too publicly, we must pretty much live in a hole and not interact outside of face-to-face contact. Not that that would be a bad thing, especially in today’s society. But I’m really sick of this attitude that it’s our responsibility to have our lives completely offline to avoid this kind of thing…all too much like the “her clothing meant she was asking for it” rape apology. Theft is still theft even if your house is unlocked.

It is far to easy to use the internet as revenge and exploitation. The article lists several examples of online fraud. Add to these the high profile case of the Myspace hoax created by a mother-and-daughter that negligently caused the suicide of a young girl, the all-too-often posting of sexual photos and videos of ex-partners without any consent (and I’ve personally only ever seen women’s likenesses posted), and as I’ve written about previously, we clearly have a social problem. It seems that teens and young adults are hurt more than anyone, and that women are disproportionately affected. We need a solution that takes into account the realities of 21st century life and technology. And we need it before more (women’s) lives are ruined.

And gee, it wouldn’t hurt if women’s identities and reputations weren’t so problematically inseparable from their identity as a human being. That would be nice too.

(Cross-posted to Smart Like Me.)

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