Ok, we’ve got something new for you guys — "private" posts. There’s been a lot of demand for this, and we’ve developed a system that should address some of your needs — at least I’m hoping so. Here’s how it works. Do read this carefully, because not understanding exactly how Lightstalkers manages and defines "privacy" could have nasty consequences.
How does it work?
It’s not too complicated. From now on, when you’re starting a new topic, you’ll see a "privacy" option on the right side of the page. By default, all new posts are public. Now, if you un-check the "everyone" box, a list of your contacts will appear. Check a name, and that person will be granted permission to read the post. No one else will see the post — they won’t even know it’s here.
Only you, the original poster, can change privacy settings. After your post is saved, you can go back and add additional permissions; you can also revoke permission if you want. No one else can do this. Remember, if you having a private conversation, consult everyone involved before bringing in new people. It’s their privacy, too.
How private is it?
This is a really important question. Because "privacy" is complex, here’s a short answer and a long answer. Read them both.
Reasonably private; about as private as normal, unencrypted email. Each person involved has to log in to Lightstalkers with their password, and our database is itself housed in a secure data warehouse.
It’s not Fort Knox. Lightstalkers doesn’t use SSL, or otherwise encrypt data as it’s transmitted. That means it’s possible to "sniff" the site’s traffic, and extract data from it, bypassing any authentication. This should be of particular concern to users of WiFi, and especially in public places, like Internet cafes. Further, this system is only as strong as its weakest link. People sometimes use easy-to-guess passwords, generic passwords, or (gasp) share their passwords. It’s also perfectly possible for a trusted party to print out the conversation and leave it on a park bench.
Our advice is this. This system is private enough that you can have sensitive conversations
- the kind you might have in a coffeeshop, or in line at the ATM. This system is not private enough for you to be sharing credit card numbers, missile launch codes, or racy pics of your ex.
Post your questions or concerns, and let me know if there’s anything else I can clarify.
2005-06-03 08:43:01 UTC
Mar 12 2008