ookie, ookie, ookie

Lately I've been reminded of what an ookie, dirty place the internet can be. Like, not all families, craft and good natured comments. Nothing really bad has happened, just some spam and flickr stuff, but it has genuinely upset me several times and prompted some fairly earnest discussions about putting photos on the internet et cetera. Again.

The first occurence was shortly after I joined Flickr when I received an email inviting me to view some private photos. I quickly realised that although it looked flickerish, it wasn't flickr mail and indeed came from another internet address. I doubled deleted it and ran my virus check just to be sure. This month though, one of my SPC portraits of me as a child, has been plagued with nasty sounding spam. In the form of serial comments with links to Italian p*rn sites.  I deleted them and reported them as spam but they kept coming. This is unusual, I've never ever had spam before and had just assumed that typepad was good like that. In the end I closed comments on that particular post and it stopped. It bothers me no end that it was that particular picture that attracted the spam but I can't see where it came from. There were no suspicious google search strings. Early on, after a photo I called "littlegirlsindresses" kept coming up in google image searches, I started calling photos of people something obscure. (Except der, I called that one of me kidlet, must have forgot.) I know why people with p*rn sites leave link filled comments, it's to boost their ranking in search engines. My next step, if the last hadn't worked, would have been to ban their IP address because there's no way I want to be any part of trafficking p*rnography.  I have considered changing the privacy settings so google doesn't search this blog. I've tried this on Mrs Washalot and after six months it's very effective. No traffic on that blog comes from google or any other search engines. But then, here on this blog there are some things I'd like people to be able to find. Like this one and this one, because every now and then I read search strings like "amniocentesis difficult decision" or "post natal psychosis help" and I know that someone out there might be desperate for information, or for the sharing of experience. To not be alone in all this, which is part of the point of writing and sharing. So if I have myself out there like that, I guess I have to accept that there will be occasions when pervy people hit on my blog. I just have to remember that it's a bit like being at a night club, most people are OK, but some will be creepy. And that it's OK, desirable even, to tell them to F off and that their behaviour is offensive. Or to just not engage and remove myself from their presence.

The other two occurences were Flickr related. A couple of weeks ago, someone favourited a Mrs Washalot photo. I almost didn't notice because I don't sign into that account very often. When I did and had a look at his other favourites, I realised that he has a cloth fetish and that some of his other photos are of bondage games. No nudity or age of consent issues, but misogynist and ookie all the same. He had set his content filter to restricted but I was still upset that here he was viewing my photos in that context. Then began a long conversation with myself and with others about not being able to control how others see our words and images. That something innocent or everyday to us can have quite a diffrent meaning to others. We have decided as a family that it's still OK to post photos of ourselves and Grace on our blogs and on Flickr. The general guide to whether a particular photo would be OK is whether it would be something you could see in public and whether the subject of the photo would be likely to really object. So I wouldn't post nuddy bath shots, but I would post a picture of breastfeeding if the context was right. Nor would I post really unflattering or undignified pictures. We live in a world full of images and I don't really see that our pictures are more precious, safe or unsafe, than pictures in a book, a newspaper or other general media. Indeed, I think there's something of enormous value to be gained from a medium that features images by and of ordinary people. And I just love the concept of Flickr as one of humanities photo albums. I find it endlessly fascinating. It just feels a bit grubby that someone might be taking a certain sort of pleasure in one of my pictures of nappies on the line.

So just as I was getting over that episode, I received some Flickr mail that asked if I had pictures of nude children for sale. I went and looked at the profile of the person it had come from and although some of his stuff is laddish, he's a professional photographer and I thought it a little unlikely that he would send me such a message. Nonetheless, I had just loaded some photos of Grace and I was freaking out. Big time. So I reported it to Flickr and considered making a report to the Australian Federal Police which one can do online here. Flickr got back to me quickly and assured me that it was malware or phishing, and did not come from the Flickr member. Which heartened me somewhat, but not totally.

One of the aspects of Flickr I find interesting is that you don't have any sense of where people are coming from to view your photos. There are no referrer stats. Indeed all you have is comments and a total number of page views, which doesn't take into account people browsing your photostream. That said, if someone marks a photo as a favourite or lists you as a contact, it's very obvious. And there is a facility for blocking other members which means they can't send you Flickr mail, favourite your photos or basically interact with you in any way through Flickr.

There's a whole other discussion I could go into about p*rnography, censorship, feminism and culture. P*rn is something I've come across in past lives; the gay scene, the party scene, with different types of housemates and I guess there's a time and a place. Basically if the material doesn't contain illegal and/or underage activites then I guess I've always thought that it's OK for adults to watch it in private or in restricted places. If that's their choice. Eventhough I don't think it's all that good for you. However, I feel now as an older woman, with a partner and as a parent that the ground has shifted a bit. There are lots of things I choose not to view (including certain ghoulish television), and I don't want it shoved in my face or where my child can access it easily.

I'll probaly block cloth man, I guess, but sheesh.


Penni said...

Ack. I hate having to think about that stuff, online and in the world.
Good on you for doing Wardrobe Refashion again. Love the new badge!

Janet said...

Yes, I hate thinking about it too, but these things have been dragging round after me lately, one thing after another. Writing about it all has cleared my head somewhat.
And most of the blogosphere and flickr is a pretty good place.

Gripples said...

Society is a ditch with many a place to wallow.

Girl on The Avenue said...

I still think you should report that incident to the AFP, even though Flickr assures you it's not them. Do you know if they report it?

VictoriaE said...

Ew, sounds like Flckr had some mine fields, but I love your idea of it also being a collective photo album of humanity.
Some (unstable) days I worry that secretly some evil people in my town (who probably dont exists) would read my blog and know when my husband's away and choose that time to break into my house and steal my kids or terrorise us! Then I realise everyone knows everything here and would be able to find all that out with no help from a blog.. Someone enjoying your washin photos inappropriately is a bit freaky though.
I like your new blog look, love the red.

h&b said...

My blog isn't searchable via Google, and i've had problems with kooks before - like when I was new and kept webpages with our full names, addresses and photos etc - because I knew no better.
But I do like to communicate and share with 'kindreds' on the 'net, and it's only when something like this happens TO ME that yeah, I freak out a bit and retract.
But I always seem to come back, albiet a bit wiser ...
There's one freaky person that marked me as a contact on flikr too. I'm still thinking about that one ..

Penni said...

It's funny because I've just put google analytics on my site and found someone had found my blog using the search phrase 'touch my breasts' (which would have led them to a rather edifying post about breastfeeding...hopefully they learned something). It made me feel grubby for about ten seconds but seriously, I just reckon you can't control (or predict) the way people will look at or read something. There's a fetish for everything. We live in an image drenched world, I think flickr and blogs in general could act as an antidote to the idea that all people look one way, that beauty is prescriptive, that everyone lives in immaculately clean houses. The slight risk of being looked at in a way that makes you uncomfortable to me is worth it. As a writer I use my full name, that sometimes worries me. But then I live in the world and the world can find me, whether I'm online or not. I don't want everything to be hidden or private...it's not who I am.

suzoz said...

I appreciated how considered your post was, not knee-jerk.
Until a decade or so ago, I would have been someone who was completely open on the Web. I'm still a bit surprised to discover that I'm not. Anyone who actually knew us who stumbled across the blog would recognise us but I don't want strangers to be able to 'find' us. I do open my blog to Googs though and have had the occasional suspicious search, nothing too yukky.

Stomper Girl said...

I had 2 photos taken of my younger son on Flickr which I'd put up because he was just about to toilet train and I wanted to keep the images of how adorable kids look in nappies. And of course I called them Cherub in nappies and Cherub in nappies back view. Because I thought just me and my family looked at my photos, and because I was naive. I suddenly realised that those 2 photos were being looked at way too much in comparison to the rest of my shots. So I made them private. But the thought of some p*d@ph!le getting off while looking at the photos absolutely horrifies me.
The random google searches that land on my blog make me laugh more often than not. Because when they're looking for "t!ed h!s b@lls h00d + g1rlfr1end and arrive at my blog, they must be so dispapointed.