Peter Imes: Using the Internet to steal


Peter Imes



News broke last week of a burglary ring in New Hampshire that selected targets by using Facebook. Specifically, they used the new Facebook Places feature to target more than 50 victims.


Facebook Places was launched this summer. It allows Facebook users to share their location with other Facebook users. Obviously, sharing your location at any one time could give a thief an advantage.


Facebook can reveal your location in two different ways. 1) You can deliberately share your location using a cell phone or computer, or 2) a Facebook friend can tell their friends where you are by "tagging" you at a location.



In this column I''ve stressed the importance of checking your Facebook Privacy Settings periodically. If you are concerned about the risk of your location being revealed, you can disable Places by using these settings. Here''s how: Login to Facebook, and click Account in the upper right corner. Then, click Privacy Settings. Under the "Sharing on Facebook" section, click the "Customize Settings" link. Next, under the "Things I share" section, look for the line item named "Places I check in to." To the right of this item is a button that allows you to select who can see places you check in to. Finally, scroll down a little more to the section called "Things other share." Look for the line item named "Friends can check me in to Places." Click the "Edit Settings" button to the right of this item and disable this feature. That does it!



Thieves in our homes


Though it hasn''t gotten much publicity lately, music and movie companies are still tracking down individuals who share copyrighted material online. This past Friday a federal judge allowed the copyright holder of a movie to subpoena the names of people accused of illegally downloading and sharing the film on the Internet.


A friend in New Hope receives his Internet service through CableOne and was recently contacted by their corporate office. The representative on the phone stated that a movie company noticed that a lot of their copyrighted material was being downloaded by my friend''s IP address. An IP address is a unique number that identifies your computer and can leave a trail of breadcrumbs as you use the Internet. Your Internet service provider is the one that can match a relatively anonymous IP address to an actual person.


The CableOne rep continued that CableOne refused to divulge the identity of my friend to the movie company, but they asked him to agree, in writing, that he would stop downloading copyrighted material.


I''m no legal expert, but I would assume that Friday''s ruling by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer creates a precedent that could allow easier access to the identity of my friend and thousands of other Internet users who share movies and music.


Until 2003 I freely used file sharing software. While major companies were still trying to figure out convenient (and profitable) methods of using the Internet to further their business, online services like Napster provided an extremely easy (and free) method of obtaining music. Since then, many legitimate online music stores have created a convenient method of purchasing music. Several options also exist for movies. If you have yet to give up file sharing, be aware that anonymity online is becoming harder to ensure. Also, it''s not enough to make sure you are not doing it. You should also make sure that other family members, roommates, etc are not.



Social media classes at MUW


MUW is again gearing up for their Life Enrichment Program through the Office of Continuing Education. This is an amazing program that allows members of the community to enroll in a wide range of courses. Financial Well Being, Calligraphy, Intro to Wine, Local History and Economic Development are just a few of the courses offered. I''ll be teaching a beginner-level course on social media. You can enroll in as many of these courses as you want for a one-time $35 fee. For more information on this program, contact Barbara Moore at [email protected] or 662-329-7150. There will be a link to the program''s website in the online version of this story.



Peter Imes is publisher of The Dispatch. You can email him at [email protected]



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