27 February 2013

Dealing with Stalkers in Second-Life

Does stalking happen in Second Life - Unfortunately it does.
Does it cross into real life - Unfortunately it can and has done.
Stalkers come in both genders, male and female, which is worse? Neither, in my opinion.
Your Second-Life profile can be a window to you. Your profile can also be used to harass you by other members of the SL Community. I am not trying to frighten you, I am merely pointing out that it can happen, and has.
I am not trying to scare you, but the sooner you realise that you are your own worst enemy in virtual worlds, the sooner you can protect yourself.
One aspect of Second Life that people seem to forget, is the human aspect. You are in a 3D interactive environment where you communicate with people from all around the world, via a computer.
You really do need to ask yourself - "Who am I really talking to" - before you start giving out any information about yourself.

Below is a list of Don'ts:

  • DO NOT give out your email address
  • DO NOT give out your real name
  • DO NOT give out your cell phone number
  • DO NOT give out your real home address
  • DO NOT give out the real address of relatives as a substitute of your own.
  • DO NOT give out credit card numbers.
  • DO NOT give out social security numbers.
  • DO NOT share your SL password with anyone, and that includes family members
  • DO NOT give out car registration details.
Lots of things you shouldn't do and there are more, basically I am advising you not to give out any information that would make it possible for a person to track you in real life, and it is easy to do so with minimal information.

Protecting yourself in SL:

Let's start off with some basic precautions:
Log ALL chat to your PC, easy to do:
Press Control + P and bring up the preferences panel.

Go to the Communications Tab and check all the boxes as shown in the above picture.
This action by you, ensures that anything that you say or is said to you in SL is saved to your PC. Saving chat is perfectly legal, given Linden Lab provided this functionality in the client.
What is not legal is copy pasting any chat you are a party to in SL. Such an action may result in you being abuse reported. The ONLY exception is when you copy/paste chat into an abuse report.
Your SL Password, no one from Linden Lab will ever ask for it, if anyone asks for your Password in SL, then you need to abuse report that person or group.
I once had a Linden contractor ask me for my password, my response was prompt and curt - "You work for the Lab, you already have it, so go get it". This contractor jumped up and down, made all kind of threats about closing my account, so I abuse reported him, and filed a ticket on him. Yes you can abuse report Lindens and the contractors they hire, they are not above the Laws that govern SL.

Uncheck the send IM's to E-mail function. When you are off-line, you can be flooded with e-mails if this box is checked.
So you visit an area of SL and you like it so much you want to tell your friends about it and you put it in your profile picks!
YOU Have just put a chink in your Armour, predators and stalkers read profiles.
DO NOT put places you visit regularly in your picks, take a Land Mark instead.
DO NOT put a real life picture of yourself in the First Life area of your profile. Individuals will single you out based on any real life pick you may have in your profile.
 DO NOT put snippets of conversation in your picks, stalkers are not above contacting  your friends, and if YOU provide that friends name, then you have just given the stalker a road directly to you
If you choose to accept gifts, rez them in a sandbox and check them for scripts, if you cant validate a script, try and delete the script from the object.
There are scripts in SL that will record your chat and send the creator an IM of your conversations, they are called chat spy scripts. Technically they are legal, but the creators MUST ask for your permission to participate in their use.
We all like to chat and make new friends, that is how we get to know people. It is what we say that makes us traceable.
People Listen and remember and they too may be saving their chat to their PC, so do not give them the means to track you down.
If you friend a person, when that friendship breaks up, remove the friendship card from your inventory.
Everyone in SL has a unique UUID number, anyone can find if another person is online, all they need is a person's name and a online tracker HUD. They are not illegal and can be bought off market place. What the HUD cannot do is pinpoint where a person is.
Stalkers say the things you want to hear, they may get to you when you are feeling down and you need a shoulder to lean on.
Stalkers and predators pray on your fears, they play mind games, they like to think they have power over you.
If you deny them this then you have won, dig your heels in and every time they contact you and make threats, abuse report them.
If you own land - place them on the ban list, if you do not own land - talk to the land owner.
They may create alts, but alts can be spotted, with some experience, most people use certain phrases all the time, most people spell certain words the same all the time, you just have to be observant, and over time you will be able to spot an alt.
Many residents often ask; "Where are your from, how old are you". My standard responses are; "I live in Second-Life, I am 99 years old".
You are under no obligation to share personal details, nor should you.

Meeting that Special Person

So you have met someone, you like them, you want to get to know them. Nothing wrong with that at all.
You sit and talk, you go to dances or clubs, you explore the grid together. You exchange life stories, wonderful. There are lots of charming wonderful people on the grid, there are lots of happy couples.
Do not feel obligated to take what they say at face value, if something does not ring true, check it out as best as you can. Your number one priority is making sure that you are safe and secure.

When Stalking in Second-Life crosses into Real Life

There is some serious legislation relating to cyber-stalking and cyber -harassment.
If you are going to arrange to meet someone you met in Second-Life, do it in a environment you control. Do not do it where you live. Pick a place where there are plenty of people around.
If you have children, do not take them, kids like to talk.
Do not use your own vehicle if you have one, use public transport. Why? Your car has a registration plate and it is easy enough to find out where you live if they have that detail.
If you have to go to the rest room while out, take your purse or handbag with you, do not leave it with the person you have just met to look after.
All of the above, may seem like over-kill, but we are talking about protecting YOUR safety and the safety of your family.
I am not for one moment, suggesting that everyone you meet in Second-Life is bad, or that they intend to hurt you, but until you are confident and feel secure, then do not presume anything.

There are a few things I have purposely left out of this particular subject, given that it is available for anyone to read, including the inevitable stalkers.



Anonymous said...

I have news for you.
After being stalked and harassed in second life, I closed everything down and left. For 2 years after, I was stalked in RL. Accused of crazy stuff.

And get this. Someone prominent said "Well, it's their game. You can leave" when I told them only LL could have done the things these stalkers did.

Yep, Linden Labs breaks laws and stalks just like common criminals.

Rails Bailey said...

I cannot comment on whether the Lab breaks the laws that govern SL. Linden's can be abuse reported though.

Anonymous said...

I didn't studder.
I used the letters RL as in Real Life.
Unless they shoot you with a gun, law enforcement won't do anything. Of course if you get a picture of them breaking into your car etc. and all the dirty tricks then they might so something. But even with proof that they broke into my email, the law would not do anything.
You cannot report Linden Labs to Linden Labs (and their past cronies Emerald Green).
If they don't like you, they have young techno-minions around the country that have nothing better to do than harass. I kid you not.
And you don't have to have broken any laws or done any harm to anyone...just because they don't like you.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I lost approx $40,000 by being run off SL by LL.

Rails Bailey said...

There are many people that have been ripped off in Second-Life, and for real money.

Even Linden Lab has to abide by the laws of the state it is in.


This link is a good starting point for research on Fair Trading in America.