Unreliable anonymity

A while ago now I purchased a door for my little house on the slopes of Heterocera, to preserve my virtual privacy. This was, as I noted at the time, completely illogical, and also somewhat hypocritical, since I am not entirely adverse to trespassing myself. At least my door is relatively polite, unlike the security systems that brusquely inform interlopers that they are on private property, before violently expelling them from the area.

The door is a scripted object that can only be opened by nominated avatars, and which also records unsuccessful attempts at ingress. This latter function had never previously been triggered, but when I logged on yesterday there was a message from the door waiting for me,  containing the name of my would-be visitor.

Curious, I searched for the profile of Ms X, as I shall call her, which contained a picture of her avatar, a photograph of her real self, and a link to her blog. A few clicks later and I was in possession of her real name, more photographs, the rough location of her house, the name of her workplace, and a link to her Facebook page, which no doubt would have provided me with more of her personal details.

I stopped at this point, aware that my actions were becoming more than a little creepy, but also surprised that anyone could so casually share such information about themselves with random strangers, especially on Second Life, which I’m sure has more than its fair share of potential stalkers. (I’ll admit I have no evidence to back that up, but it’s not much of a stretch, is it?)

It set me thinking about how easy it would be to link my avatar to my real-life identity. I don’t think it can be done directly, unless of course someone had access to the details of my user account, which contains my real name and address. I guess Linden Labs would have to reveal that to anyone with a court order – in fact I know they would, since they’ve done it before (to other people, not me, yet). It wouldn’t shock me to learn that the Government (which one? any one) has secretly passed a law giving the secret police all the SL user information too. An ordinary resident couldn’t make the connection though. What they could do is relate my av to this blog, or, more likely, associate this blog with my av, and there is just enough biographical information in these posts to identify me to someone who knows me quite well. It’s an unlikely enough scenario that I won’t be worrying too much.

Enough of my paranoia though. The really intriguing question is this: why was Ms X knocking on my door? I suppose I could IM her and ask, but the answer would most likely be something boring like “I was just passing”. Better that I keep it a mystery, and wait to see if she comes back.

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