As a librarian who teaches what to do and what not to do on the Internet, I often have the following conversation with my class:
Me: So you should never do that.
Class: Have you ever done it?
Me: No, I haven’t.
Class: Then how do you really know you shouldn’t do it?
Yes, I know I can give them very good arguments explaining how you can be sure that something is bad without trying it. For example, I know it would be very bad to be hit by a car, and it is not necessary for me to walk out onto a busy street to be sure.
Still, whenever I can safely give something a try, I do. I’ve edited Wikipedia articles, blogged, built websites, etc. But even for the sake of the students I refuse to forward forwarded emails, click on possibly bogus links, break copyright laws, plagairize, hack into someone else’s account, or give out my passwords to anyone.
But I thought, I really thought, that signing up to do online surveys would be a harmless experiment.
Wow, was I wrong! Within an hour, my email inbox was innundated with junk mail, and not only from the survey group. I got email from:
• other survey groups, just in case the first company didn’t give me enough surveys to satisfy my opinion-giving craving
• grant sites that promised money for free I could use for anything I wanted
• online colleges telling me I can get a better job if I just got a higher degree
• work from home sites in case I didn’t want to leave my home to work
• coffee companies that wanted to jump start my day, whether I left my home or not
• insurance companies who wanted to assure me that if something happened to me they could make sure my family had all the money they needed
• debt relief sites that wanted to rescue me from all those nasty credit cards
• personal products like shoes, makeup, wrinkle-relief creams
• various things that make me blush, so I choose not to write about
Talk about an efficient group. They must have a very good system set up, to be able to share my personal email with such a diverse group so quickly. They have the skill of networking down pat.
I’ll be cleaning this mess up for a while. But at least now I can truthfully say that I have first-hand experience that tells me it is unwise to give out my email to any site that I’m not 100% sure about.
And that you should not believe them when they say they won’t share your information with anyone.