Category Archives: Internet

Internet Infidelity

Our society has become more and more permissive and as people no longer espouse family values (in fact they denigrate them), there is something wrong.  With no sense of values, there’s a rise in behavior that would have raised eyebrows not so long ago.  These days, amorality is the ultimate vindication for that behavior, and you’ll find this all over the country.

There’s a new term to describe “virtual affairs” – those that are conducted online.  It’s called “e-ffairs”.  Well folks, it’s still wrong!  How do you know something is an affair?  Well, would you text it, post it or send it with your spouse looking over your shoulder?  If you would, then it’s not an infidelity.  If you wouldn’t, you’re cheating.  And why is all this stuff on the internet so exciting?  Well, for some people it’s exciting because it has what they consider no responsibility.  It’s a relationship with no responsibility.  But that’s not how the non-cheating spouse sees it.

People use the internet because it’s accessible, it’s affordable and it’s anonymous (or so they think).  The cool thing about fantasy relationships is they don’t require any work.  We are entering the age where there’s no chivalry, shame, or discretion.  We’ve brought up our two youngest generations with an amoral lens, where everything is justified by something else and you’re told you “shouldn’t judge.”  I have been talking a lot about how kids don’t really have a sense of time and permanency in the world of the internet.  They are sexting right and left, and don’t “get” how that can be used against them once it hits the social networks.  So I am more concerned about the generations that can’t figure out what the big deal is about this. CHIVALRY, SHAME, DISCRETION, VOWS, and RESPONSIBILITY — that’s what the big deal is!

 

There’s No Such Thing As Internet Anonymity

Let me put things into perspective.  When I was a college professor, it was standard for students to fill out opinion surveys at the end of the course on what kind of job you did in the class.  Actually, when I was a student in college, we were asked to do the same thing and the opinions were anonymous.  Well, not in my case.  I always signed mine, because I felt if a crotchety, bitter student took out their failures, insecurities, and lack of effort on somebody who has an esteemed job and is earning a living and supporting a family, they ought to put down their name.  Otherwise, it presumes they expect something bad will happen if a teacher finds out.  That makes the teachers “bad” people and the students “good” people and I thought that was b.s. when I was a student.  So, I always signed mine, whether it was good or bad. 

When I got to be a college teacher, I gave that lecture.  If you are going to comment on me, good, bad or indifferent, you ought to stand up and be counted for your opinion.  Just like in a court, you have to face your accuser.  You shouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymity and hurt somebody.  Most students never signed them.  They were brought up with cowardice and the feeling of entitlement that somehow an 18-year-old kid knows what constitutes quality teaching based on whether or not they could do the work. 

Then we had the internet.  I’m not saying the internet is evil, just like electricity is not evil even though you can stick your finger inside a socket and die.  That does not make electricity evil.  The internet is not evil, but it can be used in an evil way, and it has been.  The greatest number of sites in any one category is porn.  It’s probably the number one way pedophiles get to rape, molest and murder your children.  Children give out all kinds of information because they are naïve and curious and thrill seeking and don’t get it.  I would also say most parents do not tightly supervise their kids’ use of cell phones and the internet in general. 

So, the internet has become a very dangerous place.  People can create accounts using other people’s names, they can hack in, they can put up horrible things, humiliate and try to destroy somebody and they can do all of this anonymously and they are protected by Google or whomever because they have a rule “we can’t tell.”  This is infuriating.  I got into a minor tussle, myself personally, where a website that has interesting information on one of my hobbies, also has forum sites where people use pseudonyms and the site protects the pseudonyms.  I don’t think there should be pseudonyms.  I see no reason for people to be able to comment on anything, anonymously.  I had a long discussion about that to the person running the site.  He thought there would be a lot more activity and therefore, he would make a lot more money, if it was anonymous.  Ok, so he follows the money. What can I do?

The anonymity, in my opinion, allows the worst in people to come out, especially kids.  Think about all the horrible things kids do to each other on Facebook and MySpace which have caused some kids to kill themselves, yet they are protected.  The anonymity allows evil to really flow.  So, it was interesting recently when there was an article in the New York Times saying “Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone.”  The article says:

Not too long ago, theorists fretted the Internet was a place where anonymity thrived.
 
Now, it seems, it is the place where anonymity dies.
 
Women who were online pen pals of former Representative Anthony D. Weiner similarly learned how quickly Internet users can sniff out all the details of a person’s online life. So did the men who set fire to cars and looted stores in the wake of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup defeat when they were identified, tagged by acquaintances online.
 
The collective intelligence of the Internet’s two billion users, and the digital fingerprints that so many users leave on Web sites, combine to make it more and more likely that every embarrassing video, every intimate photo, and every indelicate e-mail is attributed to its source, whether that source wants it to be or not.

I’m happy for  this erosion of anonymity which is a product of pervasive social media services, cheap cellphone cameras, free photo and video Web hosts, and perhaps most important of all, a change in people’s views about what ought to be public and what ought to be private. Experts say Web sites like Facebook, which require real identities and encourage the sharing of photographs and videos, have hastened this change.
 
People involved in riots also find themselves on the net.  If you do things in public in Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Syria, activists have sometimes succeeded in identifying victims of dictatorial violence through anonymously uploaded YouTube videos.
 
They have also succeeded in identifying fakes: In a widely publicized case recently, a blogger who claimed to be a Syrian-American lesbian and called herself “A Gay Girl in Damascus” was revealed to be an American man, Tom MacMaster.

The internet is getting to be less and less a place where bad guys can hide.  Should you be concerned?  Yes, a lot of you are innocently putting up a lot of information which gives the bad guys ways to get to you and yours, e.g., by signing up for dating sites.
 
I’m pretty careful, but still I get emailed all sorts of things.  For about a month, I was getting requests to sign up for senior dating sites. I must admit that ticked me off; I showed them to my husband and we couldn’t stop laughing because I said it was the “senior” part that ticked me off the most!

California Goes After Social Network Privacy Policies

California State bill SB 242  was recently introduced (and amended last week) which would make social networking sites, like Facebook, take down personal information and photos for account users under age 18 and require more privacy settings (I think this should be a national law). 

SB-242, introduced by California State Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) would require all security setting to default to “private” and charge up to $10,000 per violation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

I have to applaud Sen. Corbett – up one side and down the other.

These sites are not set up for privacy, and they’re complicated to negotiate. People who use Facebook and sites like it to engage in social/political activities are not necessarily posting information they want to share with the whole world. Even if information is private to other users, it’s not private to Facebook, and can still be used for marketing and advertising purposes.

As I see it, the main problem is you give all your private information before you then determine thelevel of privacy. It’s not well structured. And yes, parents also ought to have the power to remove information or photos from their children’s pages or accounts (one of the provisions of the bill). The bill would require “removal of that information regarding a user under 18 years of age upon request by the user’s parent, within 48 hours of his or her request.”

Facebook is not happy about this bill. I guess it’s a little more work for them, but it’s good PR for them to say they’ll put in the work to protect kids. When you’re not an adult, you lack the foresight to see a picture of yourself drinking beer, along with the message that “I’m so wasted,” could be problematic when interviewing for a job. It’s true 30-year-olds can also post the same nonsense, so everything can’t be blamed on youth.

The 48-hour deadline might be tight, but I don’t care – they’ll just have to figure out a way to set up programs to make that work. If a parent is calling up every day, however, then the site probably should just terminate that account, because that means the parents aren’t really “parenting.”

In fact, a lot of parents are ignorant, unresponsive, uninvolved, unaware, and “unsupervisory” when it comes to their children:

  • 81% of parents with children who go online say kids aren’t careful enough when giving out information (which is why I don’t think kids should be online at all without parental supervision)


  • 44% of teens online with social networking profiles say they have been contacted by a stranger, compared with 16% of those without social networking profiles.


  • 14% of kids have actually met face-to-face with a person they first met on the Internet.


  • When asked how they responded when contacted online by a stranger, only THREE percent of online kids said they told an adult or authority figure. Most kids said they didn’t report the contact because they were afraid of losing Internet privileges.


  • Between 2007 and 2009, MySpace deleted 90,000 accounts because they were created by registered sex offenders.


Parents are always the first line of defense. Check up on everything. Never, never worry about losing your kid’s trust. They don’t trust you anyway.

Think about it. Most of the time they don’t want to tell you the truth, because they’ll get punished or they’ll lose some privilege. They’re not going to tell you something bad happened on the Internet. They’re afraid you won’t let them use the Internet if they mention it. And kids will lie to do what they want to do or do what their friends are doing or what they think they should be allowed to do. 

So don’t be naïve. Don’t think “My kids wouldn’t do that. My kids are wonderful.” They’re kids! I’m not saying they’re criminals, but I am saying they’re kids, and kids can make very unwise choices.

UPDATE on bill SB242: Unfortunately, it has stalled in the Calfornia legislature after aggressive lobbying by Facebook, Google, Twitter and other firms. The bill failed to pass in the California State Senate just this past Friday, May 27. The measure was deadlocked with a 16-16 vote. State Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) said the bill had been “fiercely” lobbied against by opponents, but she plans to bring the bill back for another vote later this week.

I Made the AP List for 2010 News Events

The Associated Press just recently released its “Chronology of News Events in 2010.”  It includes such momentous occasions as the Obama administration filing a lawsuit in Phoenix to block Arizona’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration law (leaving out that it is an anti-illegal immigration law), actress Lindsay Lohan beginning a 14 day jail sentence (reduced from 90 days due to overcrowding) for violating probation in a 2007 drug case, Wikileaks posting 90,000 leaked U.S. military records from the war in Afghanistan, and…..

August 10
Talk radio host Laura Schlessinger uses N-word 11 times on-air while discussing interracial marriage, later apologizing.

  • What the AP does not mention:
  • That I used the word to discuss its meaning and appropriateness in our society.
  • That I questioned why our society allows blacks to call each other that name but does not allow whites to discuss the issues raised by that word.
  • That I realized immediately the mere use of the word offended many of my listeners.
  • That I “self-policed” myself, pulled myself off the air, and apologized the very next morning.
  • That it wasn’t until 48 hours later that the liberal so-called news media at CNN teamed up with Media Matters, the Urban League and the NAACP to demand that I be silenced and taken off the air.
  • That I NEVER called ANYONE that word.  Instead, I was pointing out how that word is used ubiquitously in the black culture and community.

 
I am not a victim.  We choose to be victims, and I do not choose that label for me.  This event in my life – which I am responsible for – has led me to realize how precious free speech is in our country, and that there are forces gathering to restrict that fundamental First Amendment right.

In the few months since August 10, we’ve seen Rick Sanchez fired by CNN for expressing his opinion about Jon Stewart.  We’ve seen NPR fire Juan Williams for expressing his opinion on Muslims and airport security.  We’ve heard Al Sharpton (who called for me to be silenced from radio) call for the censorship of Rush Limbaugh and other talk show hosts who whom he disagrees. 

We’ve heard a U.S. Senator – Jay Rockefeller – on the floor of the U.S. Senate ask that the FCC shut down Fox News.  We’ve heard an FCC commissioner – one of 5 men who decide what can air on our radio and television stations – call for the monitoring and regulation of news.  All of this to support an alleged right that is NOT in the Constitution – the right not to be offended.

So, I am committing myself to supporting free speech in any way I can, beginning with moving my program to a venue which reveres free speech.  Check my website at www.drlaura.com to learn more about my move.  I will use my new format to continue to help people be and do better in their lives as well as provide a forum of open discussion on such controversial topics as racism, abortion, religion, the destructive influence of feminism, and on and on.

I am energized by all that has happened to me, not only recently but over the three decades of my career.

In January, my new book Surviving a Shark Attack (On Land), deals with betrayals and revenge.  I have some surprising things to say and to reveal. 

 

Internet Privacy is Still A Problem

I’ve been nagging you and nagging you some more about the Internet and how it isn’t the safest place in the universe if you value your privacy. Many of you insist on putting private thoughts and experiences on MySpace and Facebook and then are horrified when there is some negative blowback in your lives, like from a boss or friend or family member reading some stuff you wish they hadn’t.

Well, it gets worse.  Dozens of websites have been secretly harvesting lists of places their users previously visited online.  That includes everything from news articles to bank sites to pornography.

The information, according to the Associated Press, is valuable for con artists to learn more about their targets and send them personalized attacks.  It also allows e-commerce companies to adjust ads or prices, for instance, if the site knows you’ve just come from a competitor who is offering a lower price.

This technique is called “history sniffing,” and is a result of the way browsers interact with websites and record where they’ve been.  It only takes a few lines of programming code to pull it off.

Current versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers still allow this, as do older versions of Chrome and Safari. 

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego found 46 sites, ranging from smutty to staid, that tried to pry loose their visitors browsing histories using this technique.  Nearly half of the 46 sites, including financial research site Morningstar.com and news site Newsmax.com used an ad-targeting company Interclick which says its code was responsible for the tracking.

Again, according to the Associated Press, the source for this whole announcement, Morningstar, said it ended its relationship with Interclick when it found out about the program and Newsmax said it didn’t know history sniffing had been used on its users until the AP called.

Internet companies are obsessed with tracking users’ behavior so they can target their ads better.  The Federal Trade Commission is proposing rules that would limit an advertiser’s ability to track Internet users to show them advertisements.

History sniffing is essentially a side-by-side comparison of Web pages you’ve already visited with Web pages that a particular site wants to see if you’ve visited.  If there is a match, users would never know but the site administrators would learn a lot about you.

For instance, according to AP, a popular porn site was checking its visitors’ history to see if they’d visited 23 other pornography sites, and the code used on the Morningstar and Newsmax.com sites looked for matches against 48 specific Web pages, all related to Ford automobiles.

Sites can carry on this kind of inspection at the rate of 20,000 Internet addresses per second.

Remember all this when you next sign on to the Net.

 

YouTube Pulls Anti-Abortion Ad

Missy Smith is running for Washington D.C. delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.  She is running against incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton and claims to have the backing of the Tea Party movement.
 
What is most interesting about this candidacy?  She is running largely as an anti-abortion candidate.  She runs a 30 second ad which will air 24 times on local broadcast network affiliates across the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, preceded by a 15 second warning that was added by the station’s administrators.
 
Her 30 second ad was pulled from YouTube, posting a notice that it amounted to a “violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.”

What is the ad?  It’s 30 seconds of still photos of aborted babies.  Missy Smith’s voiceover admits to her having had two abortions:

“I was told it’s not a baby.  They lied to me. They exploited me.  Then I learned the truth and I’ve suffered for years.  And believe me, I am angry.  My heart has been ripped out.  Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Norton…they all support the murder of babies and the abuse of women by abortion.  It’s time to make child-killing illegal again.”

I’ve been rolling around in my mind YouTube’s comment on “shocking and disgusting.”  Yes, the murder of innocent babies in the womb is shocking and disgusting in a civilized society.  Dead babies ripped apart aren’t really pretty.  But it is the truth.
 
If it’s really that gruesome, should it be a “right?”

We can have daily abortions by the thousands.  Why can’t we look at what it is exactly that’s happening?

I went on YouTube and explored by using words like “shocking,” “disgusting,” “vulgar,” “mean,” and others.  And what happened?  Videos appeared with subjects like atrocious sexual exploits with links to sites with “more more more,” fart compilations, squeezing pus from boils, and a snake eating a hamster.

I agree with YouTube that using stills of aborted children amounts to “shocking and disgusting content.”  I challenge every single Planned [un]Parenthood clinic to show women coming in for abortions these photos, and THEN let them choose.  I challenge every high school to show photos of aborted babies the same way they show horrible shots of car accidents to alert young people to the dangers of drunk driving.

It is shocking and disgusting to me and many others that people find it just fine to murder babies in their bodies without seeing the sonograms of their babies moving in their womb, without looking at photos of the baby at the level of development of theirs, and without seeing the final result of the abortion.
 
Choosing without being totally informed is not really make a choice. It is hiding from actually making a choice.

Unwanted babies are wanted by some other family.

If a continuation of a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, abortion would be reasonable in self-defense.  If a continuation of a pregnancy will result in a baby that will certainly die shortly after birth, in compassion, an abortion would be reasonable.  But to waste a perfectly good baby over disinterest, inconvenience, embarrassment, and even economics is really shocking and disgusting.

You can find Missy Smith’s website at www.missysmith2010.com.  Check it out.

Sometimes truth hurts.