Originally Posted by Stang
I hear you. The same argument is true for a lot of other digital media on the web too - it stays around for a long, long time. I'm sure that quite a few people have already been burned by the messages they posted on Facebook in the past, the drunken party photos they post on Flickr, etc. There is an increasing acceptance of making your private life public, especially among the younger internet users.
Yeah, totally agree with this. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, message boards. It isn't hard to piece together tidbits of information people voluntarily provide to the public-at-large and put them together and use them against that person. Many employers are known to google someone's name before hiring or browse Facebook. Personally, keeping "connected" isn't as important as keeping a lot to myself... as I type this on a very active message board.
Skim through this thread
from beyond.ca, a Calgary automotive enthusiast forum. Colesnotes: 2 guys agree, on the forum, to a sale of a 80GB PS3 and accessories for $300, guy A gets it home, realizes it's a 40GB not 80GB, wants his money back, guy B won't agree to meet. Guy A posts this thread looking for suggestions on what to do, various forum members do some googling/facebooking, etc. and find his name, home address, all phone numbers, place of work, car make/model, several pictures which are then photoshopped and posted elsewhere on the internet, etc. Other forum members then post fake kijiji ads soliciting intimate homosexual encounters using all this information, creating a smearing campaign on Facebook, do prank phone calls, various threats of showing up at his home or workplace to "influence" him to follow up and correct this scam, etc.
This was all over $300, or really whatever the monetary difference between a 40GB and an 80GB PS3 is. So in a week this kid goes from making a simple life mistake to having the top Google results of his name make him out to be a monster, and having, by his own account, hundreds of phone calls a day looking for gay sex or asking about fake marketplace listings. The guy certainly didn't do himself any favours in the matter, but still.
Anyway, bit of an involved example, but an ex-girlfriend or an old high-school classmate that had it out for you could do a lot just with the 1000+ Facebook pictures that some people have posted for all to see.
Way off-topic with that last bit.
With regard to Google Earth and Street View, or really the public availability of it, I think Freeweed has a point that it has potentially bad consequences in the future. Whether those consequences are realized or not is something else.
Another thing is the balance between having the information current enough to use for navigation in a city that changes as much as Calgary does (new roads, changed alignments/traffic control devices, etc.) and being so current that it can potentially be used more to surveil and monitor people more closely and accurately.