Sunday, October 19, 2014

On Internet Privacy & Cyberbullying

I'm taking a break from regularly scheduled blogtober (where I have 4 giveaways happening, btws) to talk about something that's extremely important.

I just had a huge wake-up call tonight (it's Saturday as I write this), and frankly, I'm a little scared to voice my full opinions. I know I shouldn't be, but it's got me second-guessing every word I write down here in the little box on Google that helps me make this blog post.

If you weren't on the internet in the past 24 hours, you may not be aware of the issue at hand, so I'll BRIEFLY run over it. I'm not going to link to the article, but I believe Jamie has a link you can use so it won't get hits on its counter, and I strongly urge you to use that link. Kathleen Hale, author of No One Else Can Have You, (a book I was already weary of reading because it's a Full Fathom Five novel. That's a whole other issue I won't go into today), released an article on The Guardian recounting how she became obsessed with Blythe, a blogger who had given her book a not-so-great review.

She got to the point where she paid for a background check, actively sought her out on social media, and rented a car to find her home address. If that wasn't enough, she obtained her work phone and called her while she was at her job. Hale's perspective is that since Blythe wasn't a real name, she was in the right by seeking her out since she had been fooled.

Using a blogger persona name is like using a pen name. It's okay.

Stalking is NEVER okay. Bad reviews don't mean bad people. It just means that particular reader didn't like a book. Big whoop. Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James seem to be doing okay career-wise despite literally thousands of terrible reviews.

I know a few bloggers who don't use their real names, and now I'm thinking they've got it right. Which leads me to my next point. I wanted to see just what kind of information was out there that, in the event I wrote a bad review, other people could have access to.

So, camped out on my sofa in the living room (with twitter open in another window so I could keep an eye on what was happening), I began to do some research. I brought up a basic site called whoishostingthis.com. I typed in my URL, and there, in plain text, was my phone number and my home address. On a public site. For literally anyone to see.

I began to panic at this point because I know VERY LITTLE about hosting and web stuff. My HTML knowledge is how to create a div and make images smaller. It's not how to fix hosting problems. So since the site brought up my info through GoDaddy, I called their support number. The guy I spoke with was very polite and didn't laugh at me when I said I had NO IDEA how to fix it, but I used blogger. He told me Google was hosting me, and that they weren't affiliated (I thought they were, that's why I called them), but all the information was pulling up because that's what happens when you register a domain. Your info gets put up on all the lists.

I hung up the phone, and I shut my computer. I was too frustrated at this point to continue. So I made some pizza, watched a Gilmore Girls, and regrouped.

Next, it took me a THOUSAND YEARS, or about 2 and a half hours, to log in as an administrator of my site. I couldn't figure out the username log on, and another phone call to google support left me more frustrated. So I was on a forum for a while before I finally found someone who had the same problem I did, and a solution to fix it. I was finally able to log on to my admin dashboard to see my domain information, and there, in plain site, was the link to who my domain was registered with.

I clicked it, and it took me to my dashboard there (for the record, it's registered with eNOM), and I found a tab that said contact information. FINALLY. I was so happy at this point. It had two bits of contact. First was registrant, which was all my information, and the second was a second-party, which fortunately, Google had registered under itself and provided an address and phone number. I just changed all my info to theirs, got rid of my last name, and hit change. All I had to do was verify the info through a confirmation email.

VOILA. I am so thrilled, and I feel so much more secure.

But my point is this: BE SAFE. Please know how much of your info is out there. Go to this site to find out if your info is visible, and work on taking it down.

I don't want to get into a big argument, but stalking is ILLEGAL, and I hope Blythe is taking the steps to let the authorities know, and there really shouldn't be any other side to this. Reviews are opinions, and they do not attack authors. I urge reviewers like myself to be certain you are only referencing the book in your posts.

But I really just wanted to write this to say be safe. The Internet is not always so friendly in our cozy little book corner. I'm so sad this happened in our community, but I love that we are sticking together to not tolerate something like this.

And if you need any help or have any questions about how to get your info down, I will help as much as I can. I don't know a ton, but I want to help you all feel safer as bloggers.

*hugs all around*

4 comments:

  1. <333 I think you and I have talked A LOT about this but I want to say I am SO thankful you shared that information about our hosts because I had NOT even thought about that. Scary! And this is my reminder to go do that. I wasn't at home for very long so I couldn't investigate mine but NOW I AM.

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  2. OMG I NEVER knew this and am now a bit freaked out. If you would be willing to share some tips on how to get where you got - I also use blogger and GoDaddy - it would be much appreciated! If not, I understand, I'm on the search for ways to change it without paying $7.99 for the privacy service. Sigh.

    Thanks so much for this post.

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    1. Nice to meet you, and welcome! Hit up whoishostingthis.com and type in your blog's URL, and the info should come up. If your personal info is on there, DM me on Twitter and I can help walk you through how I got rid of my personal info on there! I hate that this is something we have to worry about, but this weekend was a serious wake-up call for me...

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