Thursday, May 17, 2012

Friends and Relatives---and Facebook

Dear Madame L,

I just realized I gave you the wrong information before. It's not, but rather Interesting play on names, eh? Kin to Me. I am not planning to use that website, no. I learned about it from this news story, that was posted on Facebook by "Mormon Times," a business that I "like."

The thing that bothers me is that neither this news story nor the webpage seem to care or mention the very concerns that you and I have. And if a relative looked you up on a genealogy website, specifically to find your birth place and your mother's mother's name, then, wow, that is NOT good. Those genealogy websites are supposed to list living people as just that, living--no name or other identifying information.

Anyway, I just sent an email to that news station that says: "Where is the information that tells about the dangers of identity theft by linking yourself up with all your relatives and friends by entering names and dates into some online database? I've gone to this website,, and I find nothing that explains any privacy safety nets. Will you please find out about that for me? The concept is great, but the repercussions could be devastating."

I'll let you know if or what I hear back.


Ellen (in a comment on July 9, 2012)

Dear Ellen,

Thank you for checking on that. 

Dear All Gentle Readers, Including Beloved Relatives,

Now Madame L hopes you will understand why she has not responded to your Facebook attempts to identify yourselves as her relatives. She loves you dearly and she knows she's related to you, and so do all our other relatives, so she doesn't see any reason for every person who looks us up on Facebook to know.

Madame L thinks we all must be more careful than we have been in the past, knowing that Google, Facebook, Amazon, and every other company with an online presence is tracking information about us.

Have you ever noticed that when you go to your Facebook page, the ads that appear are targeted exactly for you --- for someone of your age and gender and buying habits? 

Have you ever received an email message from a bank or credit card company or PayPal or insurance company asking for more information so they can verify a transaction? Same thing. And it's no accident. 

When you receive something like that, do NOT open it or click on any button in it. Instead, forward it to the customer service email address of the REAL company. 

This happened recently to Madame L, who received an email message supposedly from PayPal, saying she had paid more than $700 from her bank account and giving the name of the person she had supposedly paid it to (someone Madame L had never heard of or dealt with, of course). 

Madame L went online to, found their e-mail address for addressing those issues (spoof[at], and forwarded the message to them. Within 24 hours, she received a reply reassuring her that the message was not from them, and thanking her for helping them in their fight against scams.

Please, all Gentle Readers, feel free to share with Madame L and all of us any additional information and/or experiences you've had with these issues.


Madame L 


Ellen said...

Well, no answer to my question. I'm not going to pursue it.

Your answer to that other question, about identity use by the government, really got me thinking as well. Wow. I guess the thought kind of stops me in my tracks.

Thanks for your stimulating thoughts and ideas.

AskTheGeologist said...

You all might find this interesting:

Every single year I take a required online course dealt to us by the Dept of Interior. If I fail to take this course - and pass with a score greater than (I think) 75% - then my intranet and internet access are both cut off.

There are Chinese nationals working in my building and they do NOT get access to the network or the DOI Intranet - they CAN access the internet to do their scientific work via a monitored Wi-Fi system.

This course goes to great lengths to inform us about what we cannot do (e.g., stream music or download movies or visit eBay or Facebook, etc.). It informs us that viewing porn will get us fired (and that has happened). We are informed about what kinds of scams are out there trying to break into the DOI network (which happen almost always between 8am-5pm Beijing time).

Finally, we are told about the FEDERAL LAWS that prohibit us from even gathering PII - Personally Identifiable Information - and keeping it. If anything at all is gathered (like in Social Security or the VA) it must be JUSTIFIED, it must be announced in the FEDERAL REGISTER for 30 days beforehand, and there must be plans in place to SAFEGUARD the data gathered, and plans in place to DESTROY that data after it's original purpose is passed. These are regulations, but they are based on and responsive to privacy-protecting federal legislation.

Any federal data-gathering for criminal or terror purposes MUST, by law, be approved by a federal judge. No more Joe McCarthy or Richard Nixon stuff.

I'm not fearful of federal eavesdropping, but I AM fearful of Facebook and Google+...

And keep in mind that this blog system is Google property.