Anonymity Vs. Internet Exposure – Striking The Internet Balance

May 24, 2009  |  Articles

The Facebook Conspiracy

This might be shocking for you to hear but … I’m a big conspiracy theorist (ok I was being sarcastic there).

I don’t come up with the theories but I do believe that often times things are not what they seem. From sudden economy crashes to war mongering across the globe to the rise and fall of our cost of living.

As voiceover artists who work through the internet … I believe that we need to strike a balance between giving out amazing amounts of information to websites like facebook, myspace, linkedin etc.

This came up today because of something my wife said to me about facebook. I despise facebook… honest to God I think facebook might be the single worst thing that has happened to the internet since pop ups and spam.

Why you may ask?

Take a look at this flash presentation… its not new but it scared the crap out of me : http://www.albumoftheday.com/facebook/

You might have read on the news how several people have lost their jobs because of their off hand postings on facebook. Just plug in facebook firing on google… and check out the results… the latest scandal revolves around a certain athlete who posted a pic of himself with a bong. Seriously what the hell were you thinking dude? These people didn’t think to edit or censor their facebook postings which are available to anyone you add as a “Friend” as well as to strangers if you haven’t initiated the security options that facebook now provides.

Animal Magnetism

If you go to my website… www.mahmoudtaji.com you’ll notice that I don’t provide address info or telephone info. Many of you do because you want clients to contact you directly. A few years back I had a website up dedicated to my design work… you can still see some of my design work on my new website… but back then I had everything up there… my cell number, home number, work resume, address… the works. What ended up happening is I started getting SMS messages from a female designer in the states who liked my work… wanted to get to know me… so… stalking.

For those of you who have never experienced Cyber Stalking… its probably one of the worst things that can happen to you. It suddenly turns your view of this free and lovely internet that we love and use daily 180 degrees. Granted when I designed the website I didnt mention that I was married (basically because I put it up a year before I got married). So when I clarified to that female graphic designer that her sms messages at 4 am were disturbing me and my wife… she got the message and stopped messaging.

As much as it feeds my Male ego that I am a chick magnet and that my animal magnetism can trap the ladies even through the interwebs… It is still disturbing when you get unsolicited interest from someone who knows everything about you because you innocently (or should I say naively) put all your info up there for them to have.

Striking a balance

So how do you strike a balance… Well first off… don’t mix business with pleasure… If you use facebook to hook up with your family and friends.. then don’t add business contacts to them… like your boss or your supervisor. Also go into your privacy settings in facebook and implement all those funky privacy options that wont allow anyone to look you up through google or access your profile if they don’t know you.

Or you can go Kazinsky on Facebook’s ass and close your account.. go under the radar. I’d love to do that … honestly I would but I purchase most of my PS3 games through PS3 enthusiast groups on facebook.

For those who live in the UK their new CCTV monitoring system is so against anything that constitutes personal freedom that I am flabbergasted that a First world, Western “Democracy” would agree to such draconian and totalitarian measures… They say this is for your protection… I am sure they are effective against preventing some crimes but just as much as they force criminals to find more creative ways to steal your belongings… this also gives the government information about anywhere you go and what you do.

At least in the 3rd world country I live in we know they do this and we’ve gotten used to it… In your case they do it and you are almost oblivious. The biggest lie the shadow governments ever perpetrated is convincing the world that they don’t exist.

If you want to use social networking to make business contacts … use linkedin not facebook… don’t mix the two.

Solutions

Outside of my conspiracy ramblings… the core of this article is that you should protect yourself… measure out how much information you want to provide to the public… there are tons of methods of facilitating contact between you and a potential client that still protect your privacy and ensure that you are safe.

  • Don’t add your full address on your website
  • Don’t provide private and delicate information about yourself on facebook or myspace
  • Don’t use simple passwords on these sites… make it hard for hackers
  • Don’t Twitter your every bowl movement … we don’t want to hear it (that has nothing to do with security… just my sanity)
  • Don’t think that if someone stalks you that you are helpless… contact the police and inform them
  • And… protect your kids… don’t provide all info about them in your social networking profiles. Keep info like what schools they go to, their favorite candy and their interests to yourself… weirdos are called weirdos for a reason.

The Fear of God

Yes I want to put the fear of God in you about this. You’ll thank me later … think of it as preventative maintenance. By being careful you are preventing any future transgression from happening to you… kind of like an Anti-Virus program… you have it there for a reason… and like a home or car alarm system.

Incidentally in this article I have only mentioned the Mildest form of stalking that has occurred to me. I have been through allot worse and I am keeping that experience to myself because I am practicing what I preach here… you guys don’t need to know everything about me 🙂

Will this alert others and make them suspicious of you because you aren’t sharing that information so freely… maybe.

But honestly… your private issues are none of anyone’s else’s business.

If you have a view about this matter… leave a comment

On a Separate note

I’m very disappointed in you folks at how little participation I am getting in helping me build the VO directory. I am getting left comments in other posts where people allude to their using freelance websites to gain voice over work … but they don’t list them (if they are already in the directory… please mention it). This goes back to what I was saying… people love to find free resources but hate to give out information to help others. They keep the site names to themselves not wanting to share them lest that decrease their chances of landing jobs.

Tsk Tsk… for shame


5 Comments


  1. flyingdutchman

    As always, you’re making some excellent points, Taji. Two days after I put my Skype ID on my website, I got a call from a Nigerian lady who was definitely not interested in my voice-over services. So, Skype is out. Having an internet presence is a double-edged sword. On one hand you want people to find you because it could generate business. On the other hand we need to filter the cyberstalkers out.

    Speaking of stalkers…. In the old days, people used to file law suits if they were being followed around relentlessly. These days, people pride themselves in being followed…. on Twitter. It’s a weird world we live in.

    One last word on your vo-directory. Some of us are leaders and others are followers. In a way, we’re all on the same bus. However, you like to be in the driver’s seat and others are very comfortable being a passenger. That’s why we have more people observing a game than there are playing on the field.

    The only way we’re going to make this networking site relevant is if people decide to become participants instead of observers. Otherwise it’s just another gallery of names floating around in a meaningless virtual world.

  2. Fascinating video included in this absolutely amazing post.
    Thank you Taji.
    p.s. if any stalker women out there in cyberspace are reading, your being stalked too!

  3. If you don’t have my website on your list, please add.
    http://www.voicesvoices.com

    Thank you
    Bettye Zoller

    And I love getting your emails and your thoughts are right on most of the time. I tell all my seminars about you and your site and urge them to subscribe,.

  4. I’m very careful about the information I put on the Web, for a variety of reasons. My dad worked in the correctional system for many years, and with three daughters, he was very protective of us. I am extremely security conscious, having heard, “Lock your doors. Do you know what happens to people who don’t lock their doors?” Today, I even lock my front door before going out to get the mail.
    Trust me, guys, anybody can find you. No matter how careful you are (and I am VERY careful!), the Internet has virtually (no pun intended) ended privacy. This is actually the main reason I almost DIDN’T put my profile on VO Casting.
    Go to http://www.publicdata.com and look up predators in your area for free. I told one of my clients about this site and she found a predator living in a home that she and her 5-year-old son walked by every day. I even found a predator’s address that was directly across the street from a park with lots of kids.
    My checks have only my name – no address, phone number, etc. I don’t write my credit card number on the payment check to my credit card company, and I never disclose personal information to acquaintances.
    I have been asked on several occasions to be added as a friend to Facebook profiles, and I refuse. I have no profile on MySpace or Twitter, and in fact the ONLY sites I contribute my name to are business-related only.
    Coincidentally, just the other day, I found my name and home address on a Web site, and I had them remove it. And I am so careful! There is even a site that connected my name to “possible relatives,” and both my sisters were on there, my brother, and even my uncle.
    I met a gang unit police officer once at a local gym and couldn’t believe how EASY it was to get his private home address. If I can do it, so can the gang members he puts away!
    I never fill out those product registration cards, because they are just marketing tools, and believe me, guys, your name is passed around and sold to mailing lists all the time. I keep one step ahead of the game by using an alternate address so that people can’t find me that easily.
    How do they get your name? Whenever you buy a home, that’s a public property record. If you are a registered voter, certain counties will open those records free to the public. And when you write a check that has your address/phone number, your name is passed around and sold to marketing companies for their mailing lists. Even your bank/credit card company will disclose your name to their “affiliate” companies.
    I have been followed numerous times. One guy followed me more than 20 miles across 2 freeways. I kept driving in circles, because I wasn’t going to lead him to where I lived. He finally got tired and gave up.
    Another time when I was followed, I drove into a local sheriff’s station parking lot. The guy tried to flirt with me, so I pretended that I couldn’t speak English. Nobody in my part of the country speaks French, so I figured I could fake it. At first he didn’t believe me, but the more I kept talking, the more he believed it. I was calling him all kinds of names and he didn’t know what I was saying! When he was convinced that I couldn’t speak English, he proceeded to say what he wanted to do. Then I REALLY started calling him derogatory names in French!
    Every once in a while someone asks me why I do not exercise outdoors, and 100% of the time it’s a guy who asks the question. That’s because women already know the answer.
    I have been followed by cars, harassed, nearly hit on numerous occasions, and even threatened.
    When I was still in school, a guy in one of my classes, who worked in the campus library, looked up student records, found out where I lived (at an unlisted address), and watched me for weeks.
    My neighbors called the police, but when the officer arrived and asked the two guys in the car what they were doing, one of them pulled out a Private Investigator badge, and so the cops left. (Doesn’t that give you a real secure feeling?!!)
    After receiving an ultimatum letter (meet me at this time or else), that was it. I knew his class schedule, and tracked him down.
    After telling me the whole sordid story of what he and his friend had done and were yet planning to do, I was blown away.
    He told me that if I wanted to call the police and file a report, that he “would gladly take any punishment, because it would be worth it to still have you in my life. And if I never hear from you after this, I’ll never bother you again.”
    I never contacted him and true to his word, I never saw or heard from him again.

  5. Hi Taji

    Great site, well written articles !
    If you don’t have my website on your list, please add.
    http://www.ozvoxaudio.com

    Regards

    Dan