Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

There are a lot of basket cases out there–both in the physical world and in the virtual one.

The New York Times today has an article by Henry Alford about people who act or are mainly just perceived as creepy online.

He gives examples of people who take out their smartphones (with cameras) in the locker room, who show their online photos and whoops there’s an indecent doozie, who mistakenly send a critical email to the wrong person or distribution list, who say the wrong thing online because of autocorrect or autofill, and who act the detective looking up too much information about others.

At the end, Alford calls for “more tolerance toward the gaffe-makers.”

And while we should be good people and forgive genuine mistakes, some things are not accidents and deserve the seal of “ick!”

Here’s the list of 6 Internet Creepoids to seriously beware of:

1) Overly Cyber Friendly or Familiar: People who chat, text, email, or comment in a way that portrays an inappropriate knowing or intimacy with others.

2) Cyber Stalkers: Those who unsolicitedly and unwanted or obsessively follow, friend, monitor, or harass others on the Internet.

3) Internet Trolls: Individuals who giddily sow discord with argumentative, inflammatory or extraneous messages online narcissistically or just to be jerks.

4) Cyber Exhibitionists or Voyeurs: People who inappropriately or compulsively expose themselves or watch others naked or engaged in sexual activity online.

5) Cyber Impersonators or Identity Thieves: Those who falsify their identities by exaggerating or masking their true selves, pretend to be someone else, or otherwise steal someone’s online identity.

6) Cyber Freaks: Individuals who behave online in extreme unusual, unexpected, and frightening ways.

So while some things are innocent or accidentally creepy from otherwise nice and decent people, other actions are genuinely such from the real online creepoids. πŸ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What If They Can Read Our Redactions?

What If They Can Read Our Redactions?

The New Yorker has a fascinating article about technology advances being made to un-redact classified text from government documents.

Typically, classified material is redacted from disclosed documents with black bars that are technologically “burnt” into the document.

With the black bars, you are not supposed to be able to see/read what is behind it because of the sensitivity of it.

But what if our adversaries have the technology to un-redact or un-burn and autocomplete the words behind those black lines and see what it actually says underneath?

Our secrets would be exposed! Our sensitive assets put at jeopardy!

Already a Columbia University professor is working on a Declassification Engine that uses machine learning and natural language processing to determine semantic patterns that could give the ability “to predict content of redacted text” based on the words and context around them.

In the case, declassified information in the document is used in aggregate to “piece together” or uncover the material that is blacked out.

In another case prior, a doctoral candidate at Dublin City University in 2004, used “document-analysis technologies” to decrypt critical information related to 9/11.

This was done by also using syntax or structure and estimating the size of the word blacked out and then using automation to run through dictionary words to see if it would fit along with another “dictionary-reading program” to filter the result set to the likely missing word(s).

The point here is that with the right technology redacted text can be un-redacted.

Will our adversaries (or even allies) soon be able to do this, or perhaps, someone out there has already cracked this nut and our secrets are revealed?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Newspaper Club)

Autocomplete: Do Zombies (What)?

The autocomplete feature in search engines can tell us a lot about what people are thinking and asking about.

According to the New York Times (21 November 2012) “sites like Google and Bing are showing the precise questions that are most frequently asked.”

Autocomplete suggests the rest of your search term based on the most popular things that others have asked for, so it speeds up your search selection by anticipating what you are looking for and by reducing spelling errors in your search terms.


Another advantage to seeing popular searches is to understand what the larger population is thinking about and looking for–this gives us insight into culture, norms, values, and issues of the time.

I did a simple google search of “do zombies” and as you can see the most popular searches are about whether zombies: poop, exist, sleep, “really exist,” and have brains.Β 

Even more disappointing than people asking whether zombies really exist is that the #1 search on zombies is about whether they poop–what does that say about our lagging educational system?

I would at least have imagined that the preppers–those infatuated with the end of the world and with preparation for survival–would at least be searching for terms like:

Do zombies…

pose a real threat to human survival?

have (certain) vulnerabilities?

ever die?

have feelings?

have children?

beat vampires (or vice versa)?

I suppose autocomplete is good at crowdsourcing search terms of what others are thinking about, but it is only as good as those doing the ultimate searching–our collection intelligence at work. πŸ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)