Friday, March 23, 2012

The World is Watching

A while ago there was a conversation on Facebook that was started by one of my friends.  Somehow the conversation turned to funny passwords.  As the conversation went on one of her other friends, who is not one of my Facebook "friends" poster the key to her home wifi, since she thought it was a funny password.  I was able to see her wifi key because she commented on my friend's post, even though I am not her "friend".  Every person that was my friends "friend" also could see it, even if they were not the wifi owners "friend".  Once they see it they can do anything with that key they want to.

I assume that she is thinking she trusts her friend and her friend would not have friends that were "that kind of person".  I know many of my friend's "friends" and some of them may be idiots.  Are they dangerous idiots?  I don't know and neither does the person throwing around her wifi key, which is dangerous in and of itself, but the post then could get someone interested enough to seek out more information on her and her family, which was quickly obtainable.

Within a few clicks I was able to get this person's home address.  I did this by looking at her friend list and found her teen aged daughter in the list.  I then did a Google search for her and her daughter sticking in the name of the high school or town or something like that which I gathered from their Facebook pages.  It turned out that the daughter had had several newspaper articles printed about her, due to her high school activities.

As I quickly gathered information from these various sources out popped the address.  I was able to zoom in on it on Google maps and see exactly where the house was, the layout of the yard and neighborhood.  If I am nearby and need internet access I know where to go.

More recently I was contacted by a job recruiter.  For ease of reference let's call her Jane Smith.  She rang my phone and then sent an email.  The email asked for a five minute phone conversation.  The job was in a town near by, but not near enough that I would take the job.  I ignored the email.

Three days later she rings and then emails again.  This time the email opens with "I wanted to reach out once again regarding..."  This time I responded.  I thought it was the professional thing to do and I thought I should take a swing, just in case they were open to telecommuting.

On the brief pass I gave it the company looked like it was an interesting opportunity.  I thanked her for contacting me and expressed my interest in the company.  I told her that at this time I was not considering opportunities in that town for jobs, unless there was an option for telecommuting.  She responded, "At this time telecommuting is not an option but we will keep your information on file for future roles that would be of more interest to you."  She then proceeded to ask me about friends I had that would be available for the job and again stated she just needed a quick five minute conversation with them.

The next day I get another email from her.  "I'm being persistent about this opportunity because I think you would be a valuable asset to the [company name] team.   As you know, recruiting is a lot like sales. You have to get through the 'no's' and 'not right now's' to get a yes. I'm willing to do that."  My "Not right now" was just yesterday.  I responded and asked if they had changed their mind and the telecommute option was now on the table.  She replied with, "I followed up with my Project Lead and at this time [company name] is not offering the option of telecommuting. We will keep your information on file in case anything changes."

This all prompted me to find out who I was dealing with.  I found her on LinkedIn.  It said that she has worked at the company for 10 months.  LinkedIn also had a page on the company she works for and I found the state and city it was in.  I then found two people with her name on Facebook.  One in England and one in a town just outside of the city the company she works for is located.

I Googled her name and that town.  I found an article from years ago when she was in high school.  It gave the name of the high school.  The article was about two girls that had been killed in a car accident after drinking at a party.  There was a quote by someone named [Jane Smith] that went to the high school in the town where I am deducing the recruiter lives.  The article said, "classmate [Jane Smith] says matter-of-factly, ''I don't know anyone who doesn't lie to their parents [about drinking],' "  While one of her classmates stood next to her nodding vehemently.  One could mistake this as painting her as a drunk and a liar.

As a point of information, the recruiter's names appears to be fairly unique, unlike Jane and Smith, so I am pretty confident I found the right person.

I found another fairly recent news article from the same town Jane Smith lives in about a Jane Smith that had a run in with the law.  It gave her age and her home address, which I would assume is her address still based on the date of the article.

The headline was "OUI Liquor, Drug Distribution Charges Filed", even though her offense had nothing to do with that.  The article was just a list of people who had been arrested or summonsed on a wide variety of charges.  With regard to her incident the article stated, "[Jane Smith], [age], [address], [town], was summonsed to [another town] District Court after  [another town]  police filled out a complaint on Nov. 7, charging [Smith] with unregistered operation of a motor vehicle and uninsured motor vehicle. Judge [name] dismissed the case."

I did the math subtracting the year of the article from the year of the article that stated she was a senior in high school.  I then subtracted that number of years from the age they gave in the recent article.  I ended up with the age of a senior in high school, so I am figure it is the same person.

Additionally, the Facebook page that I think is hers has a profile picture of a women in a bar with bottles of alcohol behind her and a couple of drinks on the table in front of her.

If an employer, or in my case someone considering whether to do business with her, looks at this and makes the wrong conclusions it could look very bad.  It could appear that she was a drunk and a liar, who very recently couldn't register and insure her car, possibly because her license has been revoked for drunk driving and she is uninsurable for the same reason.

The true answer to why she couldn't register and get insurance could be that she was unemployed.  Having been employed at the place she is working now for only 10 months might support that.  Someone looking at this may not have seen the length of employment and may not make the effort to look at the possible logical, non negative reason.  Although one looking for possible negatives might say that she was unemployed because of a drinking problem.

The point I am trying to make is that we have to be careful what information we post online and that youth should less often give the excuse that they are young for their actions and simply make better choices.  Those choices can follow us for a long time and some are documented and not difficult for people we are trying to forge relationships with to find.

Of course young people are young and maybe haven't been taught to make good choices.  The additional lesson, then is to parents.  Give you kids boundaries.  Teach them standards.  Have standards yourself.  Know their friends.  Check up on where they are going and who they are with.  Yeah it is time consuming and difficult.  It is called being a parent.

Privacy is an important issue and it is taking people a while to get their heads around what things compromise their privacy that were not an issue years ago.  Unfortunately people are more and acting in irresponsible ways.  A decrease in privacy combined with an increase in irresponsible behavior is a recipe for disaster.

I think there is value in having open availability to information.  I think there is more value in people knowing how to behave and not being proud that they are still young and can still make bad choices in the name of having fun.