The internet is a wonderful thing….I will be the first one to admit it…I like, no let me say, LOVE the internet. Oh the things you can find on it for free! Information, friends, family, like minded individuals…it has revolutionized how people communicate, do business and make connections with others. No more need to go down to the local library to do research, no more hanging out at bars or going out on the town to find ‘that special love’ or make new friends. No more need to drive around town trying to find something that you need. Got someone who doesn’t answer the phone (like me lol!) or ‘never writes’…not a problem…shoot them an email. Networking has become a breeze…MySpace and Facebook, Linked In and don’t forget the dating sites, of which there are now even specialized ones aimed at like minded individuals such a preppers! In the 20 some old years that the internet has become widely available to the general public, it has changed our lives in ways that are so good and used to be unimaginable.

However, there is a darkside to the internet that is rarely discussed or I dare say even thought about…The  Craigslist murders, identity theft, pornography, and the very seeming anonymity of the internet which allows individuals to say and do things that in ‘the real world’ they might never say or do.

Everytime you log into the internet and do a search on a subject, your unique computer address is logged and attached and stored. Google has admitted to ‘red flagging’ and passing along the computer addresses to a certain government agency for certain search terms such as collapse, economic, human to animal, infection, and we can only guess at other terms.  For more information you can check these links out:

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/12/27/42572.htm

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/04/fbi-twitter-data-mining

Basically, they are doing what is called data mining. They are looking for certain terms to identify potential threats, reasonable enough I suppose on the surface, but then they go ‘surfing’ on social media sites too looking for people and groups that may or may not fit a particular profile of a ‘threat’ such as domestic ‘extremism’ …if you would like to see more on their ‘terms’ you can find them here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/lexicon.pdf

http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/dhs-risk-lexicon-2010.pdf

The above just gives you an overview of what they are looking at in order to identify potential risks…not a big deal on the surface, but if you really read it and do a bit of homework you might, with just a few strokes of the keyboard and posting something on facebook or another online forum get yourself looked at no matter how innocent your comment is.

And if you are a ‘prepper’ well, read the following article…

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/preppers-are-now-considered-to-be-potential-terrorists

If I really have your attention now, I dare you to google this phrase:

‘potential indicators of terrorist activities’ and see what you pull up…all kinds of potential indicators from tattoo shops to Costco to motel/hotels…

Okay, now I have covered that end of the darkside of the internet as related to government activities and what they are watching for just a tad bit which is just good knowledge to know…knowledge is power people.

In recent months, there have been cases in the news where people have been charged with crimes from stalking to harassment to extortion (making threats) using the internet and more specifically, facebook or other online forums. Which gets me to the REAL point of this article…the internet is not anonymous, it not ‘secure’, and its not PRIVATE!!! A few angry rants on Facebook or an online forum could be taken the wrong way by someone and then reported to the proper authorities and the next thing you know you got someone knocking at your door and you are looking at some sort of crazy charge simply for venting online or saying something that someone didn’t like. Maybe you have heard of that 15 year old who made a comment about Obama on facebook and wound up answering questions posed to him by the secret service? Or that woman who  was charged with manslaughter of a 15 year for comments made on facebook about the girl (who killed herself by the way), or the ex-boyfriend who ranted on facebook about his ex-girlfriend and almost got himself 5 years in jail…I could go on and on about cases where people have found themselves on the wrong side of the law because of rants and raves left on social media sites and in forums.

Another aspect is that employers are now looking online for YOU and what you say or do, hmm…your private life is no longer private once you post it people and if you post YOUR business online it is not private and they don’t need a search warrant because the internet, social media sites and forums are PUBLIC. That is what you to understand and know and wrap your brain around today. Just because you are sitting in the privacy of your home doesn’t make you anonymous, doesn’t make what you put ‘out there’ private and it is being looked at by who knows who. Criminals, law enforcement, employers, friends, family….if you post it, you own it, you did it, you said it, period…it is not private. And even if you DELETE it, or close the account or erase your computer or whatever, it is still out there somewhere in cyber space…forever….

I don’t say any of this to scare you, but to make you aware to make you think before you type or post a picture. The internet is just like the real world except even more so because anyone can find out what you have said or done with a few strokes of the keyboard, for good or bad purposes. Think before you speak used to be the saying, now it should be think before you type or upload that image…its called using your head and observing OPSEC. It’s not a Polly Anna world anymore and criminals can track you online, the officials can find you easy, or anyone else for that matter, again, for good or bad purposes. Heck, google earth shows your house right online! (which btw you can blur it out so they can’t see your home anymore).

I am not advocating pulling away from the internet, social media or from saying your opinion, but what I am trying to make a point about is to think first and then act. You wouldn’t go down to the local grocery store and post a sign that you are going to be out of town this weekend would you? Then why the heck would you post that for the world to see on Facebook or some online forum? You wouldn’t send pictures of your ‘fun’ weekend to your employer would you? Then why would you post it somewhere online? You wouldn’t make a list of every prep you have with your name, address and phone numbers and make copies and then go stand in the middle of the closest largest city and hand it out would you? They why would you tell everything online? And you certainly wouldn’t handwrite and hand deliver an angry rant about someone or something that happened expressing all your anger and thoughts about what you are thinking about doing (even though you never would) in person…then why the heck would you post something like that online for all to see?

We are all entitled to our opinions and to live our life the way we see fit, by the Constitution we are allowed the pursuit of happiness…but when we put it ‘out there’ (literally) we can open ourselves up to misunderstandings, criminals, predators and set balls in motion unintentionally. We, as Americans do still the right to free speech, but, as has been clarified by the courts, we can’t threaten or harm others with our speech…its one thing to think something and its another to ‘say’ it. Think before you type and upload.

I do believe in the saying, “see something, say something” especially when it comes to the erosion of civil or Constitutional rights or someone breaking the law, tyranny happens when good people ‘see’ but don’t speak up. However, “see something, say something” does not mean that I am allowed to use hate speech, make threats nor harm anyone in reporting what I am saying…think wisely and choose wisely in your words.

I am a big advocate for social networking and sharing ideas and knowledge and opinions, but in the right way, with security and safety kept in mind at all times. The internet is PUBLIC and the internet is FOREVER. Think before you type or upload and keep in mind that not everyone is like you…the internet is a tool, a tool that cuts both ways…lets keep it cutting safely eh? Lets share ideas and knowledge and come together for the common good. Let us share with each other in such a manner that is helpful, not harmful. Let us communicate our thoughts, opinions, knowledge and beliefs with calm, clarity, good intention and forethought. Let us USE the internet to help and support and uplift those that we may come into contact with even unintentionally. Let us not lead ourselves down a slippery slope when using the internet that may find us looking at the wrong end of a gun barrel or open ourselves up to a criminal or predator via the internet. Let us use the internet with safety, security and our future in our minds first and foremost…express yourself and share but be wise.

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