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Here's an interesting dilemma - Advice?
Old 11-19-2009, 08:14 AM   #1
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Here's an interesting dilemma - Advice?

So I starting chatting with someone on a forum as we seemed to have some common interests, etc. We've exchanged some friendly emails over the last couple weeks but nothing particularly personal.

Since I have too much free time, I Googled their forum user name yesterday. It turns out that they post to multiple forums frequently and use the exact same username for each forum and list their hometown as well.

They've posted a lot of very personal information on various forums (2 Google pages worth) including financial sites and self-help type forums. Everything about them from their medical conditions, financial information, "secrets" about past abuse, you name it. In 10 minutes I had this whole persons life history including address, spouses information, location of extended family, the works!

None of all that is my business but the person seems genuinely nice (perhaps a bit too naive) but I wonder if I should somehow mention to them that their entire life story is available to the world because they post under the same username everywhere?

Or should I just keep quiet and let them continue this trend? I don't want them to think I'm some weirdo internet stalker having been able to find all that, but I'm sure it's not unusual for folks to Google other people? I'm willing to risk losing them as a friend to help them out, maybe they can still delete some information or something.

But the big lesson for all forum people is DO NOT use the same username on each forum you use unless you want people to be able to track you. Google sure must be helpful to the police and private detectives.

Advice?
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:29 AM   #2
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I wonder if I should somehow mention to them that their entire life story is available to the world because they post under the same username everywhere?
Maybe you just did?
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:36 AM   #3
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Maybe you just did?
You're welcome.
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:37 AM   #4
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Advice?
Maybe paste together a synopsis of what you found in just a few minutes on Google and offer them some friendly advice in a private e-mail?
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:38 AM   #5
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You're welcome.
Weirdo internet stalker...
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:44 AM   #6
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Weirdo internet stalker...
Open the curtains, I can't see in.
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:06 AM   #7
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You could tell them you were looking for a particular subject on Google and were shocked, just shocked, when their username came up several times from different forums and thought they'd like to know?

Anything super juicy to share ?
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Old 11-19-2009, 11:06 AM   #8
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This is pretty common, Trek, and I'd go with telling them that you were reading this article about how using the same username would cause blah blah blah and that you checked your own, just to see..and were shocked, shocked, shocked at how easy it was to access your own info.
Maybe they'll take the hint and you won't be seen as a stalker!
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Old 11-19-2009, 11:25 AM   #9
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Or just print out the data and add a concerned citizen anonymous note and drop in the mail from a town a bit distant from where you live.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:54 PM   #10
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It's pretty amazing what you can piece together about a person from googling and from sites like peoplefinders.com, linkedin.com, classmates.com, and others.
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Old 11-20-2009, 01:43 PM   #11
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...But the big lesson for all forum people is DO NOT use the same username on each forum you use unless you want people to be able to track you...

... Advice?
Just as importantly, do not use the same username and password for online activities. That way if someone gets one password it will only be to one online account instead of all your accounts.
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