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Thread: Interesting Development in Internet Privacy

  1. #1

    Default Interesting Development in Internet Privacy

    So we hit a new low/shift in privacy for end-users:
    World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> General Discussion

    there are currently 40,000 replies and counting to a post. Now why am I taking any interest in this? Well to catch everyone up, Blizzard...makers of WoW and who are subject to their owner, Activision have been brewing this new concept of "RealID." This system would force (not optional, note that!) any person posting on their forums to have their real name shown, with the option of showing their character name as well. This has made national news headlines, even BBC! BBC News - World of Warcraft maker to end anonymous forum logins

    There are a lot of crazy things going on in terms of misinformation but there is a security flaw in add-ons right now. Add-ons are pieces of code people can write in a restricted scripting environment to do useful things in game for players, pretty much any "serious" player must use them to be competitive. Some add-ons can talk to other player's add-ons so you could report things like your damage output or your distance to someone. The current add-on "Gearscore" has exploited a security glitch so your real name is shared with others around you.

    I share this because it's an interesting thing to watch as you have Blizzard who are stuck with their hands tied because Activision's bosses made the decision to move forward with this "gamers social networking" idea they made with facebook and there seems to be no way to undo this decision they made. It has so many baffling issues with internet privacy that we could spend all day on it. Basically it is just something I suggest you keep an eye on as I do not think this story is done unfolding and could have significant impacts on future issues of internet privacy.

    Other random notes, your real name isn't a be all end all way of tracking you down. In fact, one doesn't necessarily need much if anything to find you but the key to this is that it is incredibly easy for someone who has a bunch of your information (as they can find your other available info too) and is just a little pissed with you or wishes to stalk you...point is, it requires significantly less effort and less prodding to get someone to get out of their chair and come after you. That's the real danger in my opinion, you have an environment that is dog eat dog, unapologetic, and recently someone was stabbed to death over a counterstrike incident. Some people don't realize it's a game and trolls I'm sure are licking their chops at this one too.

    So a talkback moment, do you feel safe on the internet? Did a moment like this make you think twice before posting something on facebook or some forum?

  2. #2


    I've tried WoW a few times and it hasn't appealed to me despite having a lot of friends who play and liking those kinds of games. It's not horrible but it's not for me. I have rarely been so glad this is the case. I've been half following this story just because it affects people I like and it's pretty rotten. I've been thinking that MMOs have had their day with me for the most part and it's things like this that reinforce that notion. I've got a game I'm still pretty happy with now but all of the new ones have been disappointing to me in one way or another so it's looking like the things that are becoming accepted as industry standards are not part of the games I want to play or the way I want to play them. Ah, well. More time to be productive.

    To your actual question, this is pretty much the only forum in which I am active and since I don't think it's too likely to be requesting my name in order to post anytime soon, I'm still feeling okay. Essentially, those things and others have made me think twice, thrice, etc. before joining or posting in other communities of that kind and I've already come to the conclusion that it's not worth the hassle.

  3. #3


    I appreciate the reply Trevor. I'm not trying to be a fear mongerer or alarmist but with facebook now being the most visited site on the web and this whole social atmosphere being sold out to ad-space. (notice how facebook is now flooded with this? When I joined many many years ago and barely used it, it was not like that) Are we reaching a point where the internet can be homogenized? Is the idea of it being a free space for the exchange of ideas and whatnot a thing of the past? We might be getting there with such big powers on the net combining forces like this. Google and youtube, google and whoever next owns a chunk of traffic google decides to merge with.

    The internet to me just doesn't work when almost all of the power is in one hand. If you remember the internet of the past where we argued about which search engine is best and it turned out that none of them crawled the same space, well now the only route to the net is really google. If we all get our sites from there, we end up in much similar places than if we had a less centralized system. I don't think we've reached critical mass but just like how google magically popped up one day, we need something like that to sorta set things right against stuff like the real names fiasco.

    The extended idea with facebook and activision is to make some sort of gaming social network. Facebook has made many questionable moves that cross privacy boundaries that includes your activities beyond their website. Their involvement with this move is just another one to chalk up to that. No other online game I'm aware of that wishes to publish your real name with everything you post, it's become the accepted custom to create this avatar (think second life) that is a representation of what you want to present to people. This is not something people hide behind, rather I think it is a portrayal and need to identify themselves as what they truly wish to be or experiment with. For how intimate social interaction is in WoW, I find that rather interesting but basically when we throw real names in there the veil is completely lifted and the smoke will clear. Having read a lot of these posts, I find it ironic that that is not mentioned as it just breaks the core of an online environment that is based around this virtual avatar.

  4. #4


    This is a very very bad idea. Back when I played world of warcraft a few years ago, I didn't even give out my GENDER (because I was like 11 and paranoid, but still.). I like that the internet is anonymous, and I think it should stay that way. Facebook is the exception, but facebook is for keeping in touch with friends family and people you know. World of Warcraft is meant to be a role playing game. Also, there are far too many people who would use the internet for harm (i.e. pedo's). The concept also seems to offer nothing. What good do I gain from being able to see someone elses name in an online game?

  5. #5


    That is the DUMBEST thing I have heard in a while. They don't realize this is a GAME? And that people hold vicious grudges over people in-game. This could definitely cause quite a few security issues. If they find out enough about the person... Horrible idea. Horde/Alliance are enemies. Could be enemies IRL if someone gets angry enough about being camped or something stupid like that. I've played WOW and I have seen some really vicious stuff. Can anyone say lawsuit? I can.

  6. #6


    There is some news on this so I'd like to update anyone following this: the admin sticky post with 44865 replies will see no more as it has been locked and they have seemed to have scrapped the mandatory ID system. <link in spoiler to the new admin post that details the new plans. It seems like a win but I'm still a bit not surprised/jaw-dropping at what occur over the past few days.

    I like that the internet is anonymous, and I think it should stay that way. Facebook is the exception, but facebook is for keeping in touch with friends family and people you know.
    Facebook is another quandary, slightly mature language used in this story: Facebook isn't exactly a place I have ever trusted but recent developments continue to suggest he's not the first person you'd want to trust with your info.

  7. #7


    Thankfully, the official WoW forums are a heap of horseshit anyways. More and more people are moving over to mmo-champion and better sites.

    Still, that was an incredibly stupid move on Blizzards part.

  8. #8


    I, for one, am completely glad they nix'd the Real-Names-On-the-Forums idea. That was a Hoooorrrible idea! Yeah, may have been an "interesting social experiment" but how many people would have to get hurt, stalked, or KILLED for that experiment?! WoW is just too populated with creepy people, I've had to deal with my share of creepies and people that just Wouldn't. Leave. Me. Alone.

    It would have been an "experiment" and the results, with people have gone through horrible things in real life due to that, to make people go "Oh... that interesting. Anyone wanna do a Halls of Reflection run?"

    I proposed a few good ideas in the Suggestions forum:
    World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> A few sensible alternatives to full names..

    I would love to see less idiotic trolling on the forums. One handle for everyone underneath the character name is a very good idea, it wouldn't deter roleplay, it'll simply cut down on the awful level-one-armory trolling that goes on.

    Edited to add: It'll be very interesting to see what they use!

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