Does it matter what word you use?
I've never done more than one search on a person. Multiple is scary.
The different searches are little tweakings of the wording and are performed on the same day? If so, no, that doesn't count as stalking.
Is there even such a thing as internet stalking, if you never contact the person? I say "no." Is searching until the target is acquired wrong even if it's not "stalking?" Only if it interferes with the rest of your life. Life in the digital age, baby--search until you find.
Now you're scaring me.
ogged's is the way of the future.
"Stalking" is such a harsh word. Really, it's just due diligence.
"Only if it interferes with the rest of your life." Wrt internet stalking, I agree with this standard wholeheartedly. Indulge in moderation damnit.
OK, on the count of 3 everybody switch identities. Everybody ready? 1, 2,
Really, it's just due diligence.
If you can find out X about someone in fewer than three Google searches, it doesn't count as internet stalking.
I'd say it depends on whether the target of the search is a public figure or not. Three Google searches on Scarlett Johansson? Probably not stalking. Three Google searches on your hott next door neighbor? Might be stalking.
Also, it probably depends on the value of X. If X = "the name of that obscure independent film she did three years ago," it's not stalking. If X = "the address of the company that installed the security system in her apartment," it's stalking.
I submit that if you meet someone you're interested in, not doing some google searches on them is like talking to them blindfolded.
I knew it was a mistake to do this shit under my real name.
OK, on the count of 3 everybody switch identities. Everybody ready? 1, 2,
That is not allowed.
Is the answer to the "stalking" question dependent on how widespread the practice is? Surely we worry about stalking because of bad behavior on the part of the stalker and real harms on the part of the stalked. OTOH, maybe this is a concern like that of the "coarsening of culture"?
It is worth pointing out that experienced stalkers don't need three searches; they get it done on the first try. The cream of the crop can find out what they want to know by typing a few words into the search box and clicking the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.
16 -- Aw, come on, it'll be fun...
19: Now nobody knows who I am.
Of course we're talking about non-public figures here, and I think the degree to which you descend down the rabbit hole matters more than the number of steps you take. Google searches for any permutation of name + [interest or activity, whatever the shared connective element] are fair game. Name + [address or employer] are creepy. (I'll own up before Becks calls me out: I say this as an offender.)
If you do find out someone's middle name and home address, don't memorize it and tell it to them on the first date.
22: But mother's maiden name? Totally charming.
This thread reminded me that the ex-boyfriend I loathe the most was due for a googling. I can't decide whether the whole affair would seem less stupid if he managed to publish his novel, or if I want him to wallow in insignificance. So far: insignificant!
That counts as creepy, doesn't it. Hmm.
How about searches on fellow Unfogged commenters? They never count as stalking, right?
Of course, Unfogged commenters would never engage in that sort of thing, so this is a purely hypothetical question.
Yeah, I'm actually at the point of having a go at parking my real identity and carrying on under a pseudonym. It's not a good sign when you hesitate to tell new people your full name.
Yeah, I'm talking about non-public figures (potential dates, ex-boyfriends, people you used to know, people you might hire, etc.) and not "stalking" in the legal sense but the "yes, the information you found out about me was public but the amount/type of it is kind of creepy" sense.
27: heck, i'm even going to kill this pseudonym (long story).
Creepy, creepy, creepy. I say it's creepy whenever you Googlestalk (or Snoogle, as a friend calls it, though I don't know why she calls it that and not Stoogle) on a question you'd never simply ask around with amongst your mutual friends.
I say this as someone who was unexpectedly tracked down under my pseudonym by an obscure figure from high school, just a few weeks ago, however. So I may still be a little twitchy.
26: I do click through and read people's blogs, if they're linked, for pretty much everyone. I feel moderately stalkery doing this, but I figure it's really more OCD, so I'm cool.
Just a friendly reminder never to disclose identifying information on the Internet. If you have a policy of never doing it, you'll only do it sometimes. That's about the best you can hope for.
I'm not saying it isn't my own fault ...
31: That's not stalkery at all. I see leaving one's URL in comments as exactly the same as giving them one's card; to react badly when they establish contact is to be the freak not the victim of the freak.
32: Yes, except I don't think this works so well for political bloggers.
Yes, except I don't think this works so well for political bloggers.
I'm not sure. It seems to work for Digby, but admittedly I had to reach for that one.
34 - Yes, but then there are the people who go through and read your entire blog archives in one sitting, which always makes me feel a little weird. (On my personal blog. On Unfogged, it's encouraged and expected.) But I'll own up before 'Smasher calls me out: I say this as an offender.
The other alternative is just not to give a damn and find a job where posting endlessly about penile self-amputations and testicle jokes won't get you in trouble.
At least, that's what worked for me.
What doesn't work for me is remembering to change my handle back.
31: I do that all the time too. I've even clicked on the flickr links in the sidebars on their homepage, figuring they wouldn't put them there if they didn't want people too. (Plus, I was dying to know who ogged is/look liked and that seemed the best way to do so.)
And Google shouldn't be the measure here, should it? What about MySpace and Facebook? Is hunting down old friends there considered stalking?
32: Another technique to throw potential stalkers off the trail is to put out disinformation from time to time.
38: As silly as it sounds, I have nephews I worry will find me online and read my cusses. They are teenagers, I have no idea why I still think like this. One of their/my cousins flipped off her own son in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, even. I'm stuck in the 1950's.
37: I slapped a post entitled "The Best of Acephalous" in my sidebar to encourage people to read through my archives. I expect, nay, demand old friends and new acquaintances read through it. Otherwise, how will anyone know all the important things I've thought?
34 seems right, even if they read all the archives--surely if you put it on the Internet, it's OK to read. But of course, from reading the comments, I think I am closer to being a stalker than most here. The Internet was invented so we could find out what our ex-girl/boyfriends are doing now, wasn't it? Is finding out information really stalking these days?
That said, 22 certainly is sound advice.
31. This is what we call being zealously overprotective of other people's boundaries. Let the weight of responsibility lift from your shoulders!
- Yes, but then there are the people who go through and read your entire blog archives in one sitting, which always makes me feel a little weird.
i'm sorry but...then why do you have a blog? this seems, to me, to be like standing naked in public and then saying you feel weird that people are looking at you. *
*i am teh rebel!
Idealist! Long time, no see...
Sometimes I really love Ideal.
What about MySpace and Facebook? Is hunting down old friends there considered stalking?
Dude, that's the whole raison d'etre of those sites!! People put up profiles there because they want to be looked up!
I was dying to know who ogged is/look liked
How many times to you have to search for [person's name] + "nude" for it to count as stalking?
49 "looked up" s/b "hooked up"
I think it's possible to google people, find out quite a bit about them, and act responsibly with your knowledge. Pseudonyms make sense, and will shelter you from most forms of indiscretion and embarrassment. That's all the protection I feel I need. I know, because I've done it myself, that you can find out people's identities if you really want to.
What about autostalking?
49: That's what I'm saying. Who uses Google?
50: That was the post that started me on my quest. Now the wife wonders what all those photoshopped pictures of Fez are doing on my computer.
Sounds more like internet snooping. Stalking to me has a connotation of following you around while snooping is just finding out stuff about you.
That's all the protection I feel I need.
You obviously have yet to face the wrath of St3v3 d3n B3st3.
"What about MySpace and Facebook? Is hunting down old friends there considered stalking?"
I thought that was the sole purpose of such sites. Those who are too squeamish do not create MySpace pages.
58: That's a pretty good point. Seriously--SEK, Shearer, and everyone else who blogs openly should be pretty careful about the sites they visit and comment on and the people they communicate with by e-mail. I just don't visit certain sites because I just don't trust the people involved.
Damnit, owned by 49. I'm too compulsive about punctuation to keep up with this site.
re: 47 and 48
Awwww, gee (blushes).
I must admit one of my Internet Fantasies is of an old friend or acquaintance whom I have not seen or thought of for years Googling me and making contact. Happens occasionally and I'm always happy when it does.
google is the new phone book. It's not stalking to look someone up in the phone book.
It is a bit of an operation to get an unlisted number tho.
56: 1340 hits + 1 image!
At 32,200 hits I am clearly the superior exhibitionist. No images, though, so you've got me there.
66: Dick Cheney leaves us both in the dust.
Some of us don't have the choice of having identifying information online; it goes with the career we have. Twice in the last five years, the exes of friends of mine have called me up to ask if I know how to get in touch with those friends.
Ethical question: what should I have said?
Bilbo-style riddle: what did I say?
hold on. I'm rather sure I've heard the story in 22 before.
I'm going to lunch now; if anyone cares to answer, I won't see it for an hour or so. Email me if you like.*
*If you don't know how, look in the Unfogged archives. <sigh>
then there are the people who go through and read your entire blog archives in one sitting, which always makes me feel a little weird.
I've rarely found blogs interesting enough to do this, but is this practice any weirder than reading a collection of essays in one sitting? Maybe a little OCD, but not weird weird. If someone puts their own work on their blog, I assume they want me to read it. I think it's fine to look for the work someone chooses to publish to the 'net: pictures, prose, etc. Snoogling involves an effort to aggregate personal details beyond what someone clearly chooses to provide.
Or MAE's 13.
Slol, you cheater, you haven't given us enough information to answer properly. The answer depends on the nature of the breakups. Assuming bad ones, you answered "I'm afraid I don't know how to get in touch with him (or her)." You should have said, "He (or she) died. Sad, really; you always think of the Black Plague as something consigned to history."
Hey does anybody remember the Vonnegut novel which features a scene with KV getting drunk and spending the night calling long-distance information (pre-Internet Google) to try and find old friends and acquaintances? I think it was Breakfast of Champions but not sure.
36: OK, clearly it works in the sense that there are lots of popular political blogs written pseudonymously: in my worthy way, I'm saying that political blogging ought to be done openly, sort of in the 'I'm Spartacus' line of things. Except that we're all Spartacus. Or something.
In practice, the only time blogging has got me in trouble was when a nice girl who worked in advertising called me out on it, first date. 'Just doing my research ...' It hadn't been an issue at the party ...
53: act responsibly with your knowledge
Yeah, intent is really all that matters. It's "intelligence gathering" unless the goal is to steal underwear. Then it's "stalking".
People stalking my Friendster/MySpace pages: Accepted, even desirable! That's what I want people to know about me!
People reading the first ten hits on Google about me: Accepted, despite the fact that there are embarrassing interviews with me from my undergrad paper there. One would have to not be looking for dirt.
People reading the first ten pages of Google hits about me: Fucking creepy, dude.
I had a blind date with a guy (stop me if you've heard this one) for whom the top hit on Google was an article in the NY Observer trying to figure out why he, a pretty attractive and well-respected theater professional, was such a troll with women. I figured I'd give the guy a break and try going out with him. I made it ten minutes on the phone with him before our first date before I gaspily said, "I do not want to meet you. I've decided. You are a fucking moron." Seriously, I'm not mean to anyone like that, ever. Effect of Google results? Minimal, but it helped me understand that his on-phone trollishness was not an isolated event brought on by nerves.
And I definitely get paranoid when I see someone on my statcounter going through every single archived week of my blog. If they then comment and say, "Hey, I just read your whole blog and I like it!" I'm relieved. Just so long as I know it's not my mom or brother or something.
77 seems to be an argument against letting the NY Observer write anything about you.
Nothing wrong with Facebook stalking. On a related note, my date went very well.
very good teo!
Date? I must've missed that thread. Who was it?
I always use my full name on the internets, but in real life I'm pseudonymous. I always wear a ski mask. And tights, and a cape.
Details Teo, details! Was she a goer? Nudge nudge, wink wink.
80: Since we have determined that facebook/myspace are not stalking, you clearly must link us to her facebook profile. The date can then be properly parsed by the Unfoggedariat.
Facebook stalking is fine. I recently found someone on there I knew in elementary school (my first crush, actually) who moved away after 4th grade. It turns out that she's now a born-again Christian and hard-core conservative, lives in Texas, and got married to a Marine at 19. Which is a bit different from how I remembered her.
I frequently Google people I haven't seen for a long time, and occasionally someone finds me that way. In one case I found out that an estranged friend was even worse than I'd feared. In another I found that an long lost friend looked baout 15 years younger than her age. One guy I Googled 6 months after he died, not really unexpectedly though I hadn't seen him for 10 years. There are two guys I can't find who are probably dead, one of them perhaps for 30 years now.
But a single Google tells me that Joe Drymala was a big shot in the Dean campaign.
85: Dude, you don't even know my name. I'm not telling you hers. And facebook profiles are only accessible to facebook members anyway.
TWEET!!! Number 84, misuse of a Monty Python sketch. Fifteen yards.
Her facebook profile is actually kind of misleading. It makes her sound a lot more pretentious and "artistic" than she is.
Anyway, yeah, she's pretty cool. She's someone I've known for a while but never really gotten to know well, and it turns out we get along great. I don't know if this will end up going anywhere (the fact that the semester is ending very soon doesn't help), but it was a fun time.
88: Your name's "teofilo," and everything I read on the internet is true. Also, I'm a facebook member, so no problems here.
But I can see you want to be all not-m-fun about it, so never mind.
69 Isn't the usual procedure in such cases to forward a message to your friend and then let your friend decide what to do?
92: Surely you know that I am not in favor of m-fun.
89 -- You know, this reminds me of a Seinfeld episode...
63: I got "found" by someone I hadn't seen since junior high and another friend I hadn't seen since high school. I don't know how many searches it took them.
When struck by insomnia, I google random folks from my youth. I now know where my first husband lives [one search], what the professions are of the two biggest stoners I knew in college [Stanford professor and headmaster; one and two searches respectively].
The Offspring was a little freaked when he realised that I could read his MySpace page. In deference to his sensibilities, I don't, but I found it to be charmingly naive of him to assume otherwise.
Speaking of facebook, w/d once suggested making an Unfogged facebook group. I like that idea.
60: How so? Like "identity theft" don't trust or "will send emails in your name" don't trust. I've had the latter happen twice now, but both times the recipient was keen enough to recognize the fake address. There's also the idea that once you acquire a certain amount of Google-prominence, you can control your information a little better. For example, if you Google my name, you get my blog, the Valve, and nothing objectionable until that crank John Bruce (but anyone who reads that link will see what's what). The worst thing up there comes from Kotsko's site, but even it ain't half bad. (The criticisms of my "meme experiment" are fine with me, too, since they obviously missed the point.)
Can you tell this is the first time I've ever worried about this?
97: One stoner I knew is a full professor at a major university. I doubt he wants me to look him up -- I have serious dirt on him. I've actually tried to contact people twice who made it clear that they didn't want any contact with my part of their past (not because of anything about me, especially).
What if they created a Facebook group and nobody joined?
31: You shouldn't feel bad about that, as many people have said. Think of it this way: when you surf from work and read other sites, you're looking at stuff the authors intended to show the world, while your disclosure of your employer to them was probably not entirely intended.
The weird thing about people visiting and then reading everything isn't that the material is private; it's just one can't help but wonder why they care.
On a related note, I was nostalgic yesterday and Googled an old grad school colleague, only to find her teaching at some teeny little college in the middle of nowhere. Imagine how tickled I was today to notice that one of my regular visitors arrives every day from a Google search on my site's name from that very same school.
Wouldn't it have to be a secret group, and one in which no one tells anyone else who they are?
103: Hm. I think so. There are some embarassing google-able things about my real name (poorly written articles written for a college rag; a really bad poem put up in high school), but nothing devastating. Or really all that interesting. Who else would join? I'm envisioning me, w/d, and teo sitting idly in a cold, dark room on the outer reaches of the internets.
Which secret society is Unfogged more similar to: the Klan, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Skull and Bones?
I actually had a somewhat creepy internet stalking experience once. A person I didn't recognize sent me an IM a while ago that said only "you bastard", then signed off. When he signed back on, I found out that he was the Italian boyfriend of a girl (who used to live in Italy) one of my friends was dating. I thought this was all out in the open, but apparently it was news to the old boyfriend.
Anyway, it turns out that, through exhaustive googling, he found an online photo album of mine with pictures of the girl and my friend hanging out together. Now, the captions only had the initials of my school and the girl's first name, so finding them was impressive enough on its own. However, he then deduced that my user name was also my AIM screen name, and proceeded to contact me (initially thinking that I was my friend, hence the "you bastard" message).
He asked if anything was going on between the two, and I of course lied in response. He then enlisted me to keep an eye out for him, and to report back if I saw anything "suspicious" (he also wanted me to help him with his English, which was somewhat sub-fluent). This went on for months. It was a bit awkward.
Who else would join?
I know catherine and ben are on facebook as well. I'm sure there are others.
106: It would have to be, if people wanted to both be members of the facebook group and not give up their pseudonymity. But it's not clear how many people have both desires. Did everyone else notice the link in Becks's ellipsis?
I'd join. The most embarrassing thing on my profile is my intentionally embarrassing picture.
109 is pretty awesome.
The last sentence of 111 is unrelated to the first two; I'm just wondering.
I noticed it. Seems pretty straightforward.
I'd join. I finally caved and got a profile when they let the non-student peons in a few months ago.
114 -- I noticed it, after a little while.
I lurk, but I'd join the facebook group.
Yes, how does one hide one's real name on Facebook without creating a separate account, which seems like too much trouble.
sam k is actually a pseudonym, you know.
Facebook? Hells no.
I have prepared secret files on every commenter at Unfogged detailing his strengths and weaknesses, to ensure that I prove victorious should some malevolent influence take over his mind in hopes of thwarting the Justice League.
The facebook group would be secret (not visible to people not in the group), but members' identities would have to be known to each other. So keep that in mind.
119 -- Yeah, we know, Søren.
121 appears to be sexist, but it actually isn't once you realize we're all 47-year-old balding men.
Slol, you cheater, you haven't given us enough information to answer properly. The answer depends on the nature of the breakups.
Bad. But I thought that was irrelevant; I thought the relevant question was, what was my relationship to the ex(es) prior to the breakup?
"I'm afraid I don't know how to get in touch with him (or her)."
No, I had a much better answer than that.
I'd still join, but we might be all alone Teo.
Smasher is Batman?!
Heaven help us if he turns evil, what with knowing all our weaknesses.
"The last I saw of her, she was waving me farewell as the train pulled away, bound for Colorado. If you find her, could you ask her to return my silver locket?"
People who don't want to reveal their pseudonyms could join and pretend to be lurkers. Or just say nothing and we'll assume they're lurkers.
I just wanted to point out that this post inspired me to find the (now-two-years-out-of-date) "MS Live Spaces" blog of my H.S. ex-gf, via some creative Googling on some distinguishing details that I prefer not to consider stalkeriffic. And then I found the post where she talks about breaking up with me in high-school. Thank you Unfoggedariat, that was the most wrenching thing I've read online in a while, I'm going to go vomit now.
w-lfs-n knows comic book plots?!
I always assumed that Batman also had a plan in place for what to do if he became evil, which would be communicated to appropriate people by some automated system that Batman had purposefully caused himself to forget about. So 'Smasher has probably done the same.
Never fear, I know his weakness.
This sounds like Matt F knows that he's Smasher's weakness.
I refuse to get sucked into the Facebook or the MySpace or any of those other things you kids are doing these days. Now get off my lawn.
(Yes, w/d, I know you found the cursory Facebook profile I created for the sole purpose of looking someone up a while back. But I refuse to fill it out.)
I'm kidding about that.
Don't think you're not getting invited to the group, Becks.
134: With great power comes great responsibility.
I found the post where she talks about breaking up with me in high-school
Man, that is awesome.
140 -- better than that, Ogged, was that the title of the post was "The Worst Thing I Ever Did."
Which made me feel bad for her, a little bit. She seems happy now: that's good. She also thinks I'm much more successful now than I actually am: that's ... ironic.
I want to have millions of Becks' Luddite spider babies.
title of the post was "The Worst Thing I Ever Did."
This is beyond fantastic. So she thinks she did a terrible thing by breaking up with you, and thinks you're wildly successful? What is this, Christmastime?
126: Out with it, slol.
142 - I did cave to the IM, though. If that makes you rethink your position on spider babies, I totally understand. I deserve it.
How long ago was the breakup, arthegall, if you don't mind dating yourself?
I did cave to the IM, though
143: Why are you so filled with rage, Shi'a? Is the reason biographical, cultural, or just hormonal?
Is that rageful glee? I don't think so; the story is just...delicious.
146 -- Breakup was about 10 years ago. Right before prom. I was pretty ripped for about another year, and after that I found someone else who broke my poor little tender heart even more soundly. Live and learn.
143 -- Christmastime ain't no clownin' around, Ogged. The 'thinking I'm successful' part is bittersweet of course, since (ahem) you know, I'm not raking in bales of cash with a pitchfork or something. Which she thinks I am.
The creepy part is that she remembers somewhat-significant aspects of our "relationship" completely differently than I do. Which makes me question my own memory as well as hers -- I wasn't like that, was I? She thinks I was the one who made some decisions, and I remember that it was her...
Bitter is the fact that you're not rich. Her thinking that you are seems totally sweet.
Also, the fact that she blogged about it 8 years after the facts makes it just a little sweeter.
hmm... if a facebook group is being made, this semi-lurker would join
arthegall is an expatriate flight attendant named Brad!
OT, but I've been told that "Don't be a Søren" is [a translation of] the colloquial Danish for "Don't be a party-pooper" or "Quit harshing our buzz".
If that makes you rethink your position on spider babies, I totally understand.
OK, thousands of your spider babies.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I've used IM once in a while. But I felt bad about myself afterwards, so it's all good.
I'm logging off the internets for the day. I nominate teo to e-mail me if the facebook thing happens. Good bye, internets!
Ditto to 157. Good bye, all; thanks, teo!
The facebook group has been created. E-mail me if you would like an invitation.
Did you consider naming it Teh Mineshaft, or the Standpipe Bridgeplate Appreciation Society, or Hating on Ogged, or anything like that?
Briefly, but I felt there wasn't much point.
Clearly because I disapprove of the straight-forwardness of the name.
Yes, well, it's too late to change it now.
You could create another one.
I have a facebook profile that contains my name and the information that I am male. I lost interest when it told me I would have to tell it the exact year that I'm going to graduate, which of course I don't know.
I added some stuff to the description to try and entice w/d to join.
I actually joined before I saw 167, and will leave any further comments I have about it on its own page.
I don't want to join, but I do want to see it. Is there a mechanism for that?
There's not much to see at the moment anyway.
You need to work on your pitch, Teo.
I'm just trying to let you down easy, JM.
Baby, you can let me down easy any time! But now, I must go play some bridge.
Actually, I just realized that facebook has a "share" feature. I've never used it before, but I'll give it a shot.
Well that didn't work. Sorry, JM. I tried.
Well, crap. The only picture I can have as my main one, it seems, is the first one I ever put up there...which I did to annoy the wife, as it was taken at 2:00 a.m. mid-Coachella. Ha! That'll teach her to, um, not condemn the kicking and punching of people.
Why can't you use a different picture?
I'm not sure. It only lets me have one at a time, I guess. I don't fiddle with this that often, really. But now I have the one of me as Tom Joad instead, because it's even more ridiculous than the other.
Oh yeah, I think you have to remove the previous one before adding a new one or something.
Some people have 15 up there, is what baffles me. (Then again, I'm muddleheaded enough tonight that the concept of "pancakes" baffled me earlier.)
The profile picture is actually a completely different thing from the other pictures. They're uploaded differently.
What's "up there"? As far as I know, you can have one main profile picture, and then you can both have tons of albums of pictures which other people can browse and also every picture of you which is in anyone else's album can be tagged as you and associated with your profile.
74. Slaughterhouse Five.
I'm not too proud to say that book still, at age 47, makes me cry.
Thanks, md! Excellent. No reason to be ashamed of a weakness for Vonnegut -- he is one of the greats.