I know who you are! You cannot hide behind a keyboard. It’s impossible.
You see, over the past several weeks this website (ryanrally.org) exploded with reader comments. Most were proper. Some were misleading. Others were outright lies. All were entertaining! There’s not a single person that I couldn’t identify, if I were so inclined. It’s that way in cyberspace and I wouldn’t be doing anything that is sneaky or underhanded. People just don’t know how it works.
Readers of this website know — because I’ve pointed this out several times before and I specifically call it out in the Disclaimer — that no one can be anonymous while using the internet. No one! The internet knows who you are and it’s easy enough for a website administrator to get damming information on a person. Really, a person could get their ass sued for making libel statements. People think they can “mask” their information, but that’s just not entirely so.
I bet Anthony Wiener (aka, “Carlos Danger”) wished he knew what you do… or soon will!
ryansrally.org Disclaimer excerpt
IP Addresses: Every computer has an IP (Internet Protocol) address. IP addresses of computers and mobile devices used to visit this website/blog are logged by an independent third-party. Be aware, your IP address is every bit as identifying as your telephone number or street address. In addition, this website may automatically collect other information; including such data as email addresses, browser types, operating systems, and the URL addresses of sites clicked to and from this site, among other information. Getting the IP address of a user is quite easy, even when they attempt to mask it through a proxy server.
How It’s Done
The easiest, but most expensive, way to gather reader information is to pay to have this done. With these services all that is needed is the IP address and they’ll have you (virtually) sitting in that person’s backyard. Remember, your IP address is always being captured by any site you visit. Hell, just turn on your computer and connect to the internet for this to happen.
The best way to explain this, and you should try it yourself, is through example. Now, I’m not going to name the services I use but can easily prove this with lesser ones. It will get you close enough to prove this is entirely legitimate. I’m not going to do anything special either. Well, other than tell you what websites, internet service providers (e.g., AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.), and hosting companies can gather about a person, if they want.
Okay, here we go!
Let’s use a comment I made the last week. Just by making this comment (or accessing the domain ryansrally.org) I have voluntarily provided tons of information. For the purpose here, I’ll keep it simple and use just one way I begin the process to identify a person. Namely, that’s what is logged into my website, Google Analytics, and the host provider (Go Daddy) in its most basic form. Keep in mind, I have filtered out much, just to show that it doesn’t take… well… much. I copied and pasted this information that is one mouse click away:
|Ryan’s Rally LLC
He paid $50 about 6 months ago.
I easily could have provided a fake user name and fake email, but that make’s ZERO difference. I could use different ones every time and that means NOTHING. I have the IP address (188.8.131.52) and that’s all I need (but other information is automatically captured that is equally identifying). My IP address, like yours, is always being captured automatically. It’s the Caller ID of the internet. You can’t “block” your number or make it “private” unless you work with the agencies like the CIA or FBI. Even they can be found out, but it takes some legal action.
As for me, I use a more sophisticated IP Tracer (also called IP Locator) service to perform a track-back. But, for the sake of simplicity, let’s use a “middle-of-the-road” one, called IP-a
ddress.com . I simply key in the IP address, 184.108.40.206, and here is what it tells me:
It also reports on the operating system you use, the browser, and if you are on a computer or mobile device, among other things. Remember, I use a more powerful service that not only gives more information, but more detailed information; like the latitude and longitude is taken to the 6th decimal place. So, with my service it returns the geolocation coordinates of 39.032236 latitude and -77.483734 longitude.
With these coordinates, it takes just a matter of a few seconds to get the address. I’ll show you by using Google Maps.
I virtually welcome you to my home. This aerial shot is accompanied with the street address handily provided. It’s deadly accurate.
People, I’m warning you, this information is a snap to get. Please, don’t do anything online that you would be embarrassed by (or liable for) in public. Not only could you be answering to local/state authorities, but you are under federal jurisdiction/prosecution because the internet crosses state lines (just like when you mail a letter)! Oh, be certain that I’m not giving legal advice here because I’m not a lawyer, but my opinion is be damned careful!
Seriously! If you email/text your boss or spouse that you’re at work then you’d be best advised to be where you say. Don’t violate company policy if they tell you to stay off certain websites (like Facebook, porn sites, or Twitter). If you don’t want your spouse knowing you love looking at big hooters (and I’m not talking about owls here) then don’t even take a peek at a seedy website. Truth is, just typing a search word or term in Google, Yahoo, or Bing is forever linked to you. Clearing your computers browser history will not cover your tracks because it’s being logged by external websites, service providers, browsers, and who knows who else.
As the administrator of ryansrally.org (under Ryan’s Rally LLC), I seldom check into who made a comment. Still, there are times when I might want to know how many people are viewing the website from a particular town — say, Newark, DE — or state. For fun I just checked activity coming out of there and since midnight 276 “Newarkians” have viewed the website (14 are actively viewing). Another click of the mouse and I now know every one of those 276 IP addresses. In a very real sense, they invited me in. When I’m really interested I can see if a certain household is (or was) on the website. It’s so detailed that I know the web pages they viewed on my site. Also, alerts can be set to notify a web administrator that an IP address is (or was) on the website.
Some websites even place “tracking cookies” on your system. I could, but don’t. Remember, it is always a good idea to clear your browser’s cache, history, cookies, and everything else periodically. For me, I have software that does it automatically for me weekly.
A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while a user is browsing a website. When the user browses the same website in the future, the data stored in the cookie is sent back to the website by the browser to notify the website of the user’s previous activity. This can include clicking particular buttons, logging in, or a record of which pages were visited by the user even months or years ago. [via wikipedia.com]
Recently I was quite compelled to find if comments came out of the criminals hometown (again, Newark, Delaware) or support system living in North Carolina. By damned, some sure were! I now know who’s libel, without a doubt, so I suggest they don’t push it one iota further. Frankly, I’m flat-out pissed at the bald-faced lies they spouted on this highly successful website.
It’s just insane to me that some feel like sitting in their basement spewing lies and hate from behind a keyboard provides some protection. The internet knows who you are! So do I. All it takes is a morsel of your voluntarily provided information and a person loses all anonymity. Public information begets more public information and before anyone knows it that keyboard has the same protection as a wet cardboard breastplate.
Making it Real
Here is where a real life example that might be helpful. We all know “Debbie from Newark” who has been blowing-up the blog section of the website recently, right? I know “a bit” about her. Eh, no need to be coy… I know practically everything about her. This is all public information and nothing is preventing me from sharing it, but I will mask her identity because I feel it’s the right thing to do (for now, at least).
Real Name: Debbie B*****r
- Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Resides: 4## S****** P**** Blvd., Newark, Delaware. Previously (2008 – 2009) lived in Wilmington, DE
- Employer: Delaware A***** Program, Brennen (Newark, Delaware).
- Jobs: P****** Educational Products,Manager
- Role: Paraprofessional
- IP Address: 166.137.101.## (She actually has the main IP with slight variations in the ending numbers. This signals her network accessibility is highly unique to her).
- Hair (from a public photo): Blonde
- Born: 1959
- Phone: 302-##8-8##7
- North Hills High School (1977)
- Grew up in Pittsburgh, PA
- Single, interested in men
- Two Children (Son attends a State University & Daughter works with Debbie)
- Associated with the Vantrease family.
I suppose that’s enough to show I clearly know who she is without causing her any embarrassment. Still, I hope it drives home my point that everyone should not behave like a raving lunatic… or like “Debbie from Newark” and think people can’t find out.
The internet knows who you are! Just do the right thing, even when you think no one will know.
It’s been a rough past month with the parole hearing looming. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when there’s reader passion on this website. The criminal’s “fan base” was out in full force (all few of them) and I had to take the opportunity to exploit it (and gather information). It keeps Ryan relevant. It brings hoards of new readers. It fires up Team Diviney. Now, it is time to shift the focus back on Ryan’s recovery. Don’t worry, those trolls will return. They just can’t help themselves. They never learn.