We Know Who You Are

There really isn’t any hiding on the internets anymore.  There never was any ability to hide, really, but many people tried anyway to hide behind fake names, forged email accounts and IP-spoofing surf sites.  Why would someone try to hard to so fruitlessly hide their identity?  The simple answer is:  They’re up to no good.  The more complex question is:  Why Are You Hiding When We Already Know Who You Are?


It is necessary that people own their words and actions in real life and in a virtual living on the internets.

It is our duty to require the close association and determined tethering of behaviors to actions in every human realm because when we are left to aimlessly wander anonymously, trouble and hatred are bred within us.

Social Networks rightly provide no anonymity even though the despicable among us believe their facelessness is protected even though it is not.

The main cudgel behind finding out who you and what you’re up to are online isn’t wielded by an intimate stranger looking to harm you — who you are is smashed against you by those you believe you should inherently trust:  The operators of your social activity online.

Operators of online social networks are increasingly sharing potentially sensitive information about users and their relationships with advertisers, application developers, and data-mining researchers. Privacy is typically protected by anonymization, i.e., removing names, addresses, etc.

We present a framework for analyzing privacy and anonymity in social networks and develop a new re-identification algorithm targeting anonymized social-network graphs. To demonstrate its effectiveness on real-world networks, we show that a third of the users who can be verified to have accounts on both Twitter, a popular microblogging service, and Flickr, an online photo-sharing site, can be re-identified in the anonymous Twitter graph with only a 12% error rate.

Our de-anonymization algorithm is based purely on the network topology, does not require creation of a large number of dummy “sybil” nodes, is robust to noise and all existing defenses, and works even when the overlap between the target network and the adversary’s auxiliary information is small.

We shouldn’t be surprised our privacy and anonymity on social networks is a purposeful illusion.

Nothing is free and the price we pay for social networking services is the loss of our private being in order to sell advertising and additional services.

Our anonymity dissolves in the chase to capture the almighty advertising dollar.

7 comments

  • Hi David!
    I am relieved that the internet networks are being more vigilant and pursuing those that abuse others on line! They cause their” victims” to feel no worse than if they had been literally mugged, held at gun point, or even reaped. The “virtual violation” is just as “real”! The gliche is, there is “no face” to the attacker!
    Ultimately, there needs to be more done in the avenue of educating the public on how to head off, deal with, block, and even to do a “virtual line-up” to identify and apprehend these lewd characters … oops … sorry! I mean criminals!!!

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  • That’s right, Heartmelody69, it is our duty to not let the current anonymity hurt open, innocent, people — because that’s precisely what they want. They live only to inflict a sustained hurt on good people for a long time. Their thrill is in the propagation of the negative.
    I’m glad the FBI and other agencies are taking online stalking and harassment much more seriously now. We need laws and licensing to protect the goodness of the internet or we risk degrading the experience down to its lowest tier of degradation and humiliation.

    Like

  • Gordon Davidescu

    A simple search for “fired for twitter” yields a lot of rather unfortunate cases of people who thought they were writing private thoughts that were seen by the wrong parties.

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  • Fantastic point, Gordon! It’s just too easy to get “outed” as the “real you” on the internet now — and when you’re caught behaving poorly, it is usually because you thought no one was looking or no one cared enough to find out the details of the real you. When you’re anonymous online, you immediately challenge the revelation of your real identity and that puts all the power in the hands of others.

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  • Kathakali Chatterjee

    At times I really get surprised to see what people reveal online without thinking of the impact…it really gets uncofortable.

    Like

  • It is strange and compelling to see the private bits of a person so freely shared with strangers, Katha.

    Like

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