Tuesday, August 15, 2006

That ain't right

I am deeply disturbed by this user's AOL search history:



It is not normal to cook him breakfast!!

This reminds me of a time in college when I accidentally stumbled across a bunch of emails that another student had printed out. I read all of them, of course. (Don't judge me -- you know you would've done the same when you were seventeen. (If you wouldn't have, then I guess you can judge me.) I wouldn't do it now, but back then, yes.)

(* altering some details below, so that I'm not a complete privacy violator)

First there were some emails between her and her college boyfriend Max. They had a fight over washing dishes. Max decided they would only use disposable plates from then on. Make up, kiss kiss.

She moved to the East Coast to go to graduate school. She started working with a project partner Bob who sent her five frantic emails in an hour during both occasions when she missed their work appointment.

Next was an email between her and Bob's best friend, in which she revealed that Bob raped her. The friend urged her to get help. File a police report, or at least for God's sake, call the rape hotline and talk to them. But she didn't. She decided that she and Bob would talk through it and deal with it as friends.

It breaks my heart when women treat themselves this way. Partly because it makes me remember back to when I was young and didn't know how to stand up for myself.

37 comments:

omar said...

ugh why are you posting this stuff?

omar said...

i guess what i mean is, you work at google.. what if google data was released? i guess i think you would take this more seriously and wouldn't want to further rub salt in the wounds of either the individual users. that aol is getting crucified in the press and on blogs is good, but i'd hope that could happen without having to drudge up all these details.

Anonymous said...

No, you do not open mail that is not addressed to you. With printed emails please practice scanning header only to figure out that it is not addressed to you, at which point turn it over and put it aside. And now that it was demonstrated how much you can do with AOL data, the right thing to do is to put it aside, and stop snooping... Honestly, as a googler you should have more respect for other people privacy!!!

Anonymous said...

It's probably not a good idea to post publicly the fact that you read another's private e-mails. It's even worse to assume that people who read your blog would do the same. This speaks unfavorably to your character and the character of those with whom you associate.

S said...

jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so concerned with privacy and not the fact that the girl was raped. What is it about these women that makes them think "oh I was raped, guess I'll cook him breakfast"? That is disturbing. And to the people who said this reflects poorly on Niniane, what is wrong with you? Niniane is concerned with the wellbeing of women. Privacy is secondary. Niniane did not do anything wrong. She accidentaly came accross the emails. Why are women so afraid of other people to have a confrontation or make somebody mad to such an extent that they won't report rape. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that in this (and most) societies it is ok for a man to get angry and be a bitch but somehow it is not ok for a woman to be assertive, strong and mean. She is supposed to be nice.

Anonymous said...

... and she accidentally read them all. Looks like more than one email too.
And being very concerned about rape she did not help the woman, but instead expressed public displeasure with her choices.

Anonymous said...

Why post this? I think her point is that it's worrying enough men are confused about date rape ("well, she did say 'no', but by the time we were doing it, she had changed her mind"), but it is downright disturbing that women have trouble drawing that line.

It doesn't surprise me, though. The cognitive dissonance of the whole scenario is terrible: How can someone I trust, someone who is a friend, do something that makes me feel violated. Maybe it's all in my head, yeah, that must be it...

Anonymous said...

I hope your current project is not related to Gmail...

Maybe it's just me but I don't feel comfortable even my sister reading my mail, let alone strangers...

Anonymous said...

What? How is she supposed to help the woman whom she does not know? I find the comment about helping totally inappropriate and obnoxious. And she's not "expressing public displeasure" but wondering how people can have this type of disconnect.

If Niniane read the emails and they were printed on a public printer well that is not her fault. The person who printed them should realize they are printing to a public printer.

If she picked them off somebody's desk well ok that is wrong.

You can never consider your emails private. They are not and it is naive to think they are private. They belong to either the corporation or the school and both read them and claim them if necessary. Ok that is how it is. Should it be that way? Well of course not.

Anonymous said...

Ah, how exciting, so many people ready to go through my purse, should I leave it out of sight for a second. "But it was in a public place! You cannot realistically expect privacy there!"

Anonymous said...

Don't be evil.

Anonymous said...

If your purse was a public repository for everyone's keys we would be going through it and wouldn't consider it inappropriate.

bene said...

Several of the girls I knew in highschool had been raped at one point or another - by male peers, uncles, stepfathers. There were so many reasons that they didn't report the rapes, but the biggest ones were that:

- things were stable now (and often the man was important to their family unit)
- the legal punishment was much more severe than what they felt they had to deal with
- even the accusation would cause more damage to the guy than they felt they'd received
- the stigma that they'd have to deal with of pointing the finger would just add to the pain they'd already experienced, and open old wounds.

And so, these girls would act as if nothing had happened - hiding the experience from everybody involved, including the aggressor.

So I'd argue that, in my experience at least, it's unfortunately common for a rape victim to do some really strange things that attempt to recreate normalcy.

And yeah, I would have read all of them too.

Anonymous said...

sad to see a googler posting this one..a question to you Niniane:- Can any of the google engineers access the search profile of a given user?..coz if the answer is a yes, I am SCARED!!

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:
somehow it is not ok for a woman to be assertive, strong and mean. She is supposed to be nice.

People who are mean suck the life out of the world, whether they are men or women.

Anonymous said...

I found that there's no excuse for reading other ppl's email. That is just wrong! What the heck is wrong with you?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:
somehow it is not ok for a woman to be assertive, strong and mean. She is supposed to be nice.

People who are mean suck the life out of the world, whether they are men or women.


And it is people who purposefully take things out of context that create mean people.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:
somehow it is not ok for a woman to be assertive, strong and mean. She is supposed to be nice.

People who are mean suck the life out of the world, whether they are men or women.


And it is people who purposefully take things out of context that create mean people.

Anonymous said...

DANG PEOPLE CHILLAX
Am I the only one who is ocassionally interested in other people's lives? I know it sounds bad... but really people... who here never gossips?

As for the AOL data... I think it is an awesome insight into the use of search technology. Is nobody else ingrigued by browsing this data?

Anonymous said...

I really don't know why you are posting this stuff on your blog. What's the point? Nobody know this AOL user and who give you the permission to post her stuff even you get this info "accidentally"?

I guess your job in Google is to search other's Gmail everyday...

SHAME ON YOU!

Anonymous said...

I don't work for Google but as an enginneer (also Asian) who works in Silicon Valley.. I feel very bad and can't believe it is happening by a pro, not a teenager.

Anonymous said...

Me and my teammates at MSFT were largely appalled by your blog. Its scary stuff realising that my search history is at the disposal of a kid who enjoys sneeking into other people's personal stuff. While user profiling is targetted to benefit consumers eventually, your act creates suspicion in minds of one and every one.

I think you should post an apology asap as you have both scared and pissed a large community out there. This is a shameful act, especially when its being done by a google employee, an organization which is immensely respected by all netizens!

Anonymous said...

There are two issues here. The first is whether it is appropriate that N posted the AOL user's search data and also whether it was wrong of her to have read someone else's email exchange back in college.

The second, which is the crux of N's post, is that women should stand up for themselves in the face of sexual abuse by the opposite sex.

I find it disheartening (but not surprising so) that people are focusing on the former and not the latter. People forget that she was *seventeen* when she read the other person's emails. And she readily admits that she wouldn't have done that now. So no, she is not snooping through your Gmail account. Stop accusing her of wantonly violating people's privacy (I'm talking to you Mr MSFT. And for your information, it's "My teammates and I", not "Me and my teammates". Use proper English for god's sake.)

As for the issue of her posting the AOL user's search data, I see that as simply being a way to broach the topic of sexual abuse. It was not posted with an malicious intent, nor does it violate anyone's privacy any more than the other websites that have posted the data. She does it not to embarress the AOL user, but to stress a belief which she holds, which is that it is not okay for women to be silent about abuse.

Lastly, this is her personal blog so she can post whatever she bloody well likes. She in no way violated any of Google's user data, so everyone who's saying that she should behave so-and-so because she's a Google employee can STFU.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous (8/17/2006 1:00 AM), all you can do is checking grammer, right?

Yeah, N can post whatever she want but we can write whatever we think here too. Some people just abuse the free of public speach. Do you know what is privacy?

About the AOL gal, first of all, NOBODY know who is that chick (maybe if "she" is a guy?). Secondly, who can guarantee if it is a true story or just some BS? We can't just look at those few lines and "complete" the whole story for her (or him)...

Logon to AOL, talk to that user and say THANKS N for posting her stuff on her blog and now we all feel sorry for her.

Anonymous said...

> Hey Anonymous (8/17/2006 1:00 AM),
> all you can do is checking
> grammer, right?

Your grade school grammar teacher will thank me.

> Yeah, N can post whatever she want
> but we can write whatever we think
> here too. Some people just abuse
> the free of public speach. Do you
> know what is privacy?

What is "the free of public speach"? Ignoring the fact that the phrase does not make sense, plus you spelt "speech" incorrectly, pray tell us what is privacy? You seem to know a lot about it.

> About the AOL gal, first of all,
> NOBODY know who is that chick
> (maybe if "she" is a guy?).
> Secondly, who can guarantee if it
> is a true story or just some BS?
> We can't just look at those few
> lines and "complete" the whole
> story for her (or him)...

We're not reading too much into the AOL user here. We're simply looking at her/his search terms. I don't think it's important whether the story is true. The point is to illustrate the lession.

> Logon to AOL, talk to that user
> and say THANKS N for posting her
> stuff on her blog and now we all
> feel sorry for her.

Now you're just being silly. The user cannot be traced by the log ID so there's no way of finding out who she/he is unless we do a more thorough investigation.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that whoever the "8/17/2006 9:40 AM" poster is, they are intensly jealous of Niniane. Thus the unwarrented hatred. They cannot even explain their own objection to her post so clearly there is a lot to be jealous about.

Anonymous said...

>>>
Now you're just being silly. The user cannot be traced by the log ID so there's no way of finding out who she/he is unless we do a more thorough investigation.
>>>

http://www.itnews.com.au/newsstory.aspx?CIaNID=35795&src=site-marq

Anonymous said...

> http://www.itnews.com.au/newsstory.aspx?CIaNID=35795&src=site

I am aware of that story. Hence the words "thorough investigation". My point is that you can look at the ID, compare it to some name/id lookup list and go "oh, I know who that is".

Anonymous said...

Can't. I meant can't.

Mike said...

Age really has nothing to do with disregard for other people's privacy. A considerate person would have stopped reading once they realized it was a private email message. This post makes me feel uneasy about Google.

Anonymous said...

>>>
I am aware of that story. Hence the words "thorough investigation". My point is that you can look at the ID, compare it to some name/id lookup list and go "oh, I know who that is".
>>>

Just leave your SSN here, without "thorough investigation" you should be fine..

kim said...

wow people are stupid. i'm not talking about niniane but the people who are posting these comments.

Anonymous said...

>>>
Just leave your SSN here, without "thorough investigation" you should be fine..
>>>

Do I really have to point out that fact that there's a difference between a SSN that is kept by 3 major credit reporting agencies and a RANDOMLY generated ID that does not have any reference to a name whatsoever?

Please, you have a brain. Use it.

Anonymous said...

>>>
Age really has nothing to do with disregard for other people's privacy. A considerate person would have stopped reading once they realized it was a private email message. This post makes me feel uneasy about Google.
>>>

At what age did you learn that consideration for someone's privacy outweighed his/her naturally curiosity for information? Don't tell me you've never done something that you knew to be wrong - but not quite so wrong as to not do it.

Also, just because someone says something you disgree with, you don't have to assume the company she works for is bad. Can you say generalization? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_reasoning

Anonymous said...

>>
Do I really have to point out that fact that there's a difference between a SSN that is kept by 3 major credit reporting agencies and a RANDOMLY generated ID that does not have any reference to a name whatsoever?
Please, you have a brain. Use it.
>>

Listen, smart kid:
AOL has apologized for posting 20 million keyword searches by more than 650,000 of its users on a research website violating company rules on privacy

Also:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060817/ap_on_hi_te/aol_search_privacy_3

Anonymous said...

Group files FTC complaint against AOL