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The danger of having your face as your avatar (And giving away more personal information with it!)

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Exurbia's Avatar Exurbia
Retired Moderator
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Elf
Hey guys. It's been a while since I've written a blog, and if you've known me for a while, you know that I only post about topics that haven't been done before, and the word count has to be over 1000 words. So, you're in for a long read. And sorry, no tl;dr. I don't do those.

Now, as a moderator, I see many people every day, and also, many of those member’s faces. No, I do not stalk people, or ask them to send a picture of themselves to me. In fact, they are willingly showing their face to all of PlanetMinecraft and the internet. Now I see males and females of many ages, but what concerns me the most is the females aged 10-17 who have a ‘selfie’ as their avatar. This is very unsafe for everyone, as you could be targeted.

So, why do people do it? Honestly, I don’t know. We can only guess. It was a common thing for females to have ‘scene’ girls as their avatars, or even pictures of themselves as their avatars to attract males to their profiles. This was very common on PlanetMinecraft a year ago. I remember this one member in particular, who would always get her skins on the popular reel because she had a picture of herself (and it was a very revealing picture too) for her avatar. An article from The Daily Mail.co.uk about women sharing pictures of themselves on Facebook states “Women who base their self-worth on their appearance use Facebook to feel better about themselves, scientists believe.” They also state” Dr Stefanone said: 'Those whose self-esteem is based on public-based contingencies - such as others' approval, physical appearance and outdoing others in competition - were more involved in online photo sharing.” So, even though this study was more about Facebook, it can still be applied to PMC. But, this obviously doesn’t apply to every female on the site, and I’m not saying it does. And this blog isn’t just directed at females also. There are many males who I’ve seen putting themselves as their avatar. Another reason people could do it is because they feel it is safe enough to put their face on a site with over 1.3 million members on it, which is also open to the whole world. Newsflash, not everyone on PMC is as friendly as you think they are. There could be pedophiles out there or people who just want to give you hell.

Why shouldn’t you do it? Well, including the many dangers of the internet, it is also against the rules to give away personally identifiable information. Rule 3 (in the old rules, and somewhere in the new ones I cannot find it) states that you are not allowed to ask for personally identifiable information, or give it away. This includes your full name, your exact location, and an image of yourself. I’d also like to remind you that no moderator will ask you for any of this information, we are very concerned for the safety of our members, and this is why we have the rule in place. Now, I’m probably sounding like a mom now, but you can’t ignore the fact that even though PMC seems safe, you still don’t know who could be talking to you or looking at your profile. But, you are allowed to share your first name, age, general area (country and/or state if you feel comfortable) and your skype, steam, email, etc.

Now, I’ll keep this part short and sweet. Well, actually it isn’t that sweet. It’s actually a very bad, and horrifying topic. Pedophilia is bad, and it can be common on the internet. If you are a young boy or girl (it doesn’t matter), or even a teenager you can be targeted. Giving away your name, age, general location (country is alright, but city is a definite no) and an image of your face, it won’t be hard for someone to find you. Trust me, there are many cases where this has happened, and I don’t want to go into it because this is not a very pleasing topic for me, and seems a little taboo for PMC. If you have a Facebook too, and your profile is practically open for anyone to see, then you are pretty vulnerable. Once someone has all that information, they will find your Facebook, and they will find you. So, this is also just a little reminder to you if you have a Facebook (I don’t, I deleted mine over 2 years ago) please check your privacy settings. And if someone is asking you for personal information, or you have a bad feeling about them, do not hesitate to shoot a moderator a private message. We are here to help.

But not everyone is a pedophile! There are also some not-very-nice characters out there too. Now, you’ve all heard of cyber-bullying right? Of course you have, and there is a chance you have been cyber-bullied directly, or indirectly once in your life. Despite the potential damage of cyber bullying, it is alarmingly common among adolescents and teens. According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online, and over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet. Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.” But what does this have to do with giving away personal information? Well not only pedophiles can find out where you live, your phone number, etc. other people can do it too. If they find out information about you they could create rumours, or spread your phone number around to others for people to make incriminating calls to you and your family. You could be harassed, black mailed, and even hurt. But that does seem a little extreme… let’s stick with something we could all do, if we really wanted. If people had a picture of you, they could impersonate you, or even pick on you for it. You will not get along with everyone, and unfortunately, there will be people around who dislike you. But there is a way around that! If you are being bullied on PMC, you can report them, or tell a moderator if you are being bullied via PM or comments. You can also block users too. We do not take kindly to people who don’t want to be kind. And if the bullying gets a little more extreme, like if they start sending you incriminating calls, you can phone your local police station.

Together, what does this all mean? Well it means bad stuff can happen. I’m not forcing you to change your avatar if you do have it as an image of yourself, (and if you do, please tell me why in the comments, I’m actually quite curious) I hope I distilled fear in the backs of your minds, stirring up chaos and dark thoughts. Nah, I’m kidding. I’m just concerned for people’s safety, and I hope to convince them that it is not safe to have an image of yourself as your avatar. Please, be vigilant. And please, be safe. Just because you think it ‘won’t happen to you’ doesn't mean it can’t.

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Monster Unicorns
05/19/2014 12:43 pm
Level 37 : Artisan Unicorn
Monster Unicorns's Avatar
I read all of it and I think its very much true! Thanks for informing everyone about it!
05/18/2014 4:09 pm
Level 14 : Journeyman Skinner
Nikster31's Avatar
What's so wrong with it? My name is ******** ******* and I live at ***-** ***st street at ***** avenue. Oh yeah, my house number is **-***.
02/16/2014 6:32 pm
Level 6 : Apprentice Network
Forever-Undead's Avatar
Oh great so people can see our face on SKYPE Instead stalk our twitters and steam for Harassment our devianarts all with Our pictures on those instead? Not a Very good job in my personal opinion and you have geo tagging on Pictures they take of not even themselves.
01/11/2014 8:40 am
Level 16 : Journeyman Scribe
Nyh's Avatar
Hehehe i don't get it .3.
01/11/2014 6:55 am
Level 16 : Journeyman Cowboy
_tay's Avatar
gonna bump this :))))omg shes hot
12/30/2013 11:38 pm
Level 58 : Grandmaster Prince
MayuriYandere's Avatar
Worth the read.
Also I'm surprised you didn't add into males getting targeted a bit more because it seems that people are turning a blind eye to the males being targeted.
12/30/2013 11:51 pm
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Elf
Exurbia's Avatar
I did mention this blog is aimed at all genders. Although, most of the time it is common for young girls to be targeted. And I also mentioned I'm not singling girls out either.
12/31/2013 9:29 am
Level 58 : Grandmaster Prince
MayuriYandere's Avatar
yeah you are right on the part with girls being targeted.
12/23/2013 9:49 pm
Level 33 : Artisan Engineer
Jmal116's Avatar
While I can agree most of what you say here about giving out personal information, it seems like getting all of this just from putting your face on the internet is a bit extreme. I can't simply look at your face and know just from that picture things like where you live or what your name is. And even if I could, having your face on your profile wouldn't be that different from having people see as as you walked down the street. These people even have the advantage of being able to follow you home (if they really wanted to do that, for whatever reason), and from there they would be able to figure out almost whatever they wanted.

While I suppose there is usually some kind a slippery slope from putting your face out to revealing more personal information, and the people who do one sometimes do the other, I can't help but feel like the entire thing is just a bit stretched out of proportion, and that if you're careful there really is no danger.
12/23/2013 10:17 pm
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Elf
Exurbia's Avatar
Yeah, well if people do have a facebook too (most do) people can simply reverse search the image on google, and it could pull up some photos from your facebook, depending on your privacy settings and the images you've posted (it's also likely people have posted the same image on facebook too). They can also use pipl.com to find any other information or accounts you have on the internet. It may seem extreme, but it's better safe than sorry. You don't want to be murdered along with your family just because some psycho found some information about you? And a lot of people are murdered by total strangers because they just want to see if they can get away with murder.
And yeah, maybe I did get carried away a bit, but I'm a very paranoid person (I'm working on changing that), but it can also help convince people too. You don't see commercials pointing out all the downsides to their products, or just saying it how it is. They have to convince people that their product is better than others. But if you are careful, you will be safe. But a lot of people aren't, especially young girls, who are often targeted.