Today, I found out Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame got spat on, but worse, he had death threats against him and his family previously (consequently, he will take a break during February to re-focus). It reminded me of what happened with Kathy Sierra, a while back, which made her stop blogging. Then it reminded me of the events of 2002, in where someone did the same thing to me.
When you’re public facing, and on the Internet, you tend to have a lot of your information spewed online. Social networking sites, and the constant need for you to share with others, helps drive the fact that any stalker can find information about you easily. Some even get their iPhone’s to update the Location field in Twitter automatically (wait, I think twibble on the Nokia phones does that too). We’re geotagging photos. Dopplr or TripIt tells others where you are planning to go – so this problem can also be cross-border.
We’re slowly giving up our privacy, to some extent. And we’re allowing malicious folk to know intimate details of our lives. Details that we wouldn’t mind sharing with a friend, but details that can be used to cause attacks, or even identity theft.
So, my question is: is this an online-only phenomena? I mean, journalists in traditional media do the same thing. OK, they have journalistic integrity, and the editors have strict guidelines to ensure that what is in print, isn’t drivel. Rumours tend not to be published, and everything is fact backed. Blogs tend to lack that, sometimes. Its harder to pinpoint and contact an individual journalist – you’ll just be getting to the editor. In a world where everyone can have the potential to be a journalist, without the integrity of one, is leaving yourself vulnerable online a good thing?
From a personal perspective, my incident about seven years ago hasn’t taught me much. I don’t paste my home address with GPS co-ordinates online anymore on my site – instead I use a PO BOX. But on social networking sites like Facebook, my friends get to see more details. With other people tagging photos of me, you even one even gets to see where I’m hanging out. And when I’m bored, I might tweet where I might be. And with geotagging, co-ordinates start showing up (especially if you have Location Tagger running automatically on the Nokia E71).
How do you deal with potential threats? Do you even think of it? Have you been threatened before?
Here’s hoping Mike has a good break and comes back blogging even stronger. Don’t give up!