Just who are you?

I didn’t read the Globe and Mail yesterday but fortunately my friend Tim did and posted this link to his blog.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080506.wlfacebook06/BNStory/PersonalTech/

On the internet, you can be whoever and whatever you want to be. It’s a great spot for entrepreneurs to get the word out about who they are and what services they provide. I know that, when I’m looking to engage a speaker for the RCAC Symposium, I’m drawn to speaker’s websites to see just what they’re writing about, what they do, and what they’ve done lately. That usually is a good start and I’ll follow up by trying to hear them speak or request a video. Words are relatively easy to put together (you probably don’t know it but my dog is typing this) but public speaking and convincing others is a different thing.

The bottom line though is that more and more people are selling their abilities and products via a web presence. After all, it makes great sense. People turn to the internet as an easy way to get to the facts right away. In offices, it’s easier to send an email than to walk down the hall and say hi.

But, who’s on the other end of those websites?

In a world of free and open discussion, can you be sure unless you personally verify the identify?

The gist of this article was that a student created a Facebook account in the name of a teacher and created a profile for the teacher complete with a biography and photo. How considerate! Now, the student faces charges for this action. It’s rather easily done. Usually, verification is from an email confirmation and free email addresses are a dime a dozen. Continuing in the article, you find:

“Of Facebook’s 70 million profiles, thousands are probably suspect. How else to explain the profile page for Stéphane Dion’s dog Kyoto, the five separate profiles for NHL star Sidney Crosby or the 20-plus profiles claiming to be that of B.C.-born sexpot Pamela Anderson?”

Tim indicates that he encourages teachers to claim their identity on social services like Facebook before others do. That’s great for Facebook. Then, head over to MySpace, Second Life, … It gets to be a big task in a hurry. Don’t forget any of them. You might use this site: http://www.go2web20.net/ to make sure that you get them all. This is going to take some time.

There is another option that’s available. That’s the concept of OpenID or the like. The concept is simple. Create yourself an online identify that’s yours. As more and more people with limited awareness skills (or those of us that think we’re aware but are deluding ourselves), protecting just who you are becomes increasingly important. Now, what’s to stop falsifying information? Nothing, in the present. It’s going to require a concerted effort by all providers to get serious about who is creating accounts and what they’re used for.

It’s not enough to say “I don’t use the internet”. This story goes to show that there are others that will for you.

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