Do You Fear What You Say Here Could Be Used Against You?

First of all, the link:
<Blockquote><font size=“1”>The Washington Post:</font><hr>
“The Internet never forgets,” said James Alexander, an executive at eWatch Inc., a New York-based company that monitors the Internet for corporate clients.

People need to learn to comport themselves online with the same care that they take in their face-to-face dealings in the real world, suggests Howard Rheingold, author of “The Virtual Community,” a meditation on online life. “It’s important that people understand the consequences of their online behavior, that something that feels like an informal and ephemeral conversation is actually more permanent, more like publication than conversation,” Rheingold says. “We have absolutely no training in how to act in this new social environment, and the result is chaotic.”

Already, other workers are finding themselves haunted by their online statements. A Washington area lawyer who works at a regulatory agency but asked that his name not be published dropped out of one heated online debate after a participant threatened by e-mail to send the messages to his superiors: “I don’t think it would help your career if I was to dump all this information on somebody you work for . . . If you don’t shut up, that’s where it’s going to go.”


Basically, in many cases, you aren’t protected from what you say on the internet under your name (or your alias if someone finds out the connection). Any opinions?

People have to realize this is a public medium. Anything posted on this board (or on any internet newsgroup) has lost any expectation of privacy. So if your spouse, parent, friend, co-worker, etc. reads something here (or has something forwarded to them) you didn’t want them to know, it’s nobody’s fault but your own for posting it. And keep in mind that these messages don’t go away. There are already services that make it easy to find people’s screen names and to find messages they’ve posted from years before.

The SDMB contains many posts that illustrate the veracity of this quote. You can bet that if we were all sitting in an auditorium together, many of us would tend to treat one another with more respect and consideration than we do here on the board. It’s very easy to be lulled by the false sense of anonymity, and it’s easy to forget we’re dealing with real, living, breathing people here.

In my personal experience, the issue isn’t so much whether what I say here could be used against me. I’m more interested in seeing what I become when I’m here, and whether genuine human interactions can occur in this artificial environment.

Nah. Only occasionally do I say something on these boards that I later regret. And I only venture onto these boards during my personal time, with my personal e-mail address. To log on with my company’s e-mail address would be opening up a can of worms that is best left shut.

I’ve always just assumed that some day EVERYONE’S going to figure out just how much I’ve been scamming them (probably everyone on the same day), and then my goose is gonna be cooked but good.

So anything I’ve said in here is just going to be the gravy.


Of course, it’s not just this board. Anyone can use DejaNews to look up things I said back in 1994 on USEnet, there are still old mirrors of my websites floating around out there - one even translated into Finnish (I think that’s what it’s translated into. A bit hard for me to tell). This message board, other message boards, logs of IRC conversations, saved e-mails, logs on eGroups — who knows, maybe someone out there has something I said on a C=64 BBS back in the 80’s saved on a 5.25" floppy :smiley:

Doesn’t really worry me though. Unless you’re interested in old ASCII art, my thoughts on Magic: the Gathering as they were back in the mid 90’s, and my standing on the Internation Church of Christ, it’s some pretty boring reading.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

I never say anything on this board or E-mail (or even in writing, for that matter!) that would get me into trouble legally or at my job.

The reason I use a pseudonym is that I am a writer (books and magazines) and things I say here are bound to tick off some people–so why lose potential readers or editors? “Yikes, she’s an atheist and she’s in favor of the death penalty and gay marriage–toss that book/story proposal in the garbage!”

I go by the name Satan, so I think that it’s safe to say I don’t care about anything…

Yer pal,


I don’t want to stray too far off topic, but I couldn’t help noticing the following: “and my standing on the Internation Church of Christ, it’s some pretty boring reading.”

As in International Churches of Christ ( )? I was a member of the Oahu Church (Hawaii) 1991-95.

Has this group ever come up on this site, for debate or otherwise?

Back to the topic, that would be something if my past posts on BBS and message boards past were to haunt me. I bucked the politically correct/revisionist history thing from the get-go. Guess the presidency’s not for me.

“It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument” - William McAdoo

Not a bit. Well, except for that post where I admitted liking Hudson Hawk…

Remember, folks, Big Brother is watching you!
And Sterling North, in re: the lawyer who was threatened, isn’t extortion against the law?

Nope. No fears here. I’m governed by DUTCH laws, so I’m in the clear :slight_smile:

Actually, nobody has yet proved sufficiently that there ARE in fact laws over here.

Of course that’s all exaggerated. But it’s fair to say freedom of speech isn’t an issue over here, whether online or offline. I could be a KKK-like racist, and people would laugh at me, tops. No way I would end up in jail over it, especially if I called myself a politician.

Which is good. If you claim to be democratic, prepare for ANY opinion to be voiced.

But I digress… sorry 'bout that :wink:


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

The only thing I worry about is when I lie to guys on ICQ, or if my mother or fiancé started reading this board:
I have had lots of cyber-romances with guys on ICQ, and I always lie to them about any personal info. I give them false names and photos and such, because I never want to meet these guys in person (and I do tell them from the get-go that any relationship will never leave the 'net.)
My mother would be kind of annoyed at the views I express around here, and my fiancé would be annoyed that I talk about him so much, but neither of these revelations would be very terrible.


My Homepage
The RHPS: Website For Virgins
Both Updated More Often Than This Sig

I try to make it a point to never say something online that I wouldn’t say in person. Keeps the flame tendencies down.

I’ll bet this is going to become a big issue in political campaigns 20 years from now. Candidates are going to have stuff dragged off the net and used against them.

Yeah, it worries the heck outta me. That’s why I’m very reserved and non-controversial.

Contestant #3

I dunno about this board. As long as it doesn’t get submitted to a search engine, as it has been in the past, we are pretty safe.

On the other hand, on my web site, I took off lots of legal nude art pictures, questionable statements, etc., just so that the child social dept thinks of me as a proper role model should they ever see it…

Nah, I don’t worry about it. I figure if anybody wants to dig up all the lies, half-truths, untruths, semi-truths, venting opinions, screwy ideas, and political hatreds that little old unimportant me has posted on the net, then they don’t have enough to do and they need to get a life.

Besides, if they tell me I lied, I’ll say, “So what? Bill Clinton does it all the time.” If they bring up my opinions and screwy ideas, I’ll say, “Freedom of speech—sorry, but it’s my right.” As for political hatreds, I’ll say, “Not only did I post that politicians are a pack of horses asses, I’ll tell you face to face that you’re a pack of horses asses.” Which they are. (Newt, I know that you and Trent and Jesse and Jack Kemp are lurking out there; and this applies to all of you, too.)

I stumbled on a stocks message board in Yahoo! that was discussing a client site of mine (as it was being destroyed by really stupid decisions of a takeover company). I posted a few corrections to the rumor mills that made my client site look like idiots, (“No, they don’t have a cost control issue, they were ordered to drop their prices below cost.”), but soon found that often I had to start cancelling posts before I submitted them to keep from violating confidentiality issues.

I’ll stand by anything that I did post, but I certainly understand how it can turn into a tightrope act. You see a lie that begs for correction, but the facts need to be supported by proprietary information.

As for anything I’ve posted here? I generally figure that if you’re going to say something anywhere, you’re safer just being honest (fewer stories to remember if you only have one version of each), and since this is the Straight Dope, I try to be sure my opinions have some basis in fact.

I suppose that if you have a problem with your employer or if you have strong opinions about subjects that difers from those of your employer, you may want to make sure that you maintain a certain degree of anonymity. A lot of us are professionals who are generally hired “at the pleasure” of our employers. We can often be fired for not supporting the corporate image or for wearing the wrong colored tie some morning. (Of course, we can also dig up a lawyer to punish the employer if they violate any of their own internal procedures when they fire us or if we are old enough to claim age discrimination.)

I can’t think of anything I’ve ever published being used against me.


I generally believe that you should never say anything in any sort of public forum that you wouldn’t want published in the paper. Too many people are ready to stuff it back down your throat for you, at the most inopportune time. To be honest, I’m MORE reserved here than in real life, because I don’t want my statments to be misunderstood or misconstrued (which they sometimes are anyway); because we lack the non-verbal cues in this forum to judge true meaning; and because I know what I post could conceivably come back to haunt me. The possibility is remote, I know, but it’s there.

Since I’ve never posted anything that doesn’t reflect my true opinion, or knowledge or ignorance, I’m not worried.

But, a few months back my partner, in a goof off moment, ran a search on my name. Lots of unrelated flotsam and jetsam came back along with, to my great surprise, a lot of e-mails I had sent in previous years. I tend to regard e-mail as somewhat insecure.