So, I’ll be honest. I absolutely spend a lot of my time “creeping” people on the internet, and if you’re honest with yourself, you probably do too! Anytime any of my friends mention someone I don’t know, I’m usually off to Instagram, Facebook, or Google to figure out what I can about them. I wouldn’t say I’m a pro at it, but I have definitely found some interesting information about people with my methods! Turns out there is a bit more of a professional term for this creeping, and that is cybersleuthing. A cybersleuth is
“A person who searches the Internet for information”
My Cybersleuthing Adventure
I got the chance to do some cybersleuthing of my own on one of my classmates, Kendra! Kendra and I have actually crossed paths before, so we are actually friends on Facebook. This made finding information a little easier – I’m not exactly sure what her privacy settings are on Facebook, so someone who isn’t her friend may not see as much as I can. One thing I learned pretty quickly about her was that we share a middle name – Lynn. Her Facebook also tells me her birthday! The “likes” she has posted on her Facebook are from 9 years ago, so I’m sure they are probably inaccurate, but from pictures, I can assume a few things. She has great family and friends that she spends a lot of time with. I also came across a picture of her family that included two dogs! Her family also fosters dogs (which is so awesome!). Beyond Facebook, I also came across her Pinterest account. Her various boards let me know that she enjoys food, working out, tattoos, and photography. There was also mention of her attending Regina’s first National Day for Truth and Reconcilliation. She graduated from Yorkton Regional Highschool in 2019 and is on the path to completing her Education degree from the University of Regina in 2023. Kendra’s blog also tells me a lot about her like she teaches swimming lessons at her local pool (this is actually how I know her – we worked together!). It also told me that she and her family travel ALOT! They have been to such a wide variety of places, it’s crazy!
As Katia Hildebrandt mentions in her cybersleuthing adventure, it is SO easy to find information about people. I will admit, I am definitely not as great of a cybersleuth as she is, but I still was able to find out a great deal of information about Kendra just from the internet. In this case (compared to Katia’s case of sleuthing) it was all positive information which is amazing! As you’ll read on, this might not be the case for everyone.
Multiple Identities ??
In the article Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think they discuss how common it is to have more than one account. As she puts it “Different sites, different audiences, different purposes.”. Which is SO true. I actually have two different Instagram accounts, one for a more broad “audience” of people and the other is for close friends where I post some pretty goofy things. Although many people think that I only have one account where I mainly post about events going on in my life, this is not the case. The reality is that so many people create and hold multiple “identities” through their different accounts, but this is simply to create posts for different audiences. Something I have considered greatly is creating a “professional” account for social media such as Twitter (which is a newfound love of mine) and Instagram while also keeping my personal accounts for my friends and family. However, this cybersleuthing activity has told me that not much can be considered “private” information if it is posted online.
The Internet Never Forgets
Additionally, this TED Talk by Jon Ronson really brings to life how having an online presence can be extremely damaging if you aren’t careful. Luckily, my partner’s search came up with alot of positive things that would not hold any negative consequences, but this isn’t the case for everyone. In Ronson’s talk, he explains how a woman (Justine Sacco) had her life turned upside down because of a seemingly racist tweet. She did not intend for the tweet to be that way, but the internet users decided to be the judge, jury, and executioner. The things said about her online were absolutely appalling – and might I add, had no consequences. Unfortunately, this can become a reality for absolutely anyone. Cases like these speak volumes to how as individuals we need to be extremely aware of what we are doing, saying, and posting online. As many have found out, you often can’t take it back… the internet never forgets.