Displaying a level of bone-headed stubbornness that would make Garrosh Hellscream blush, it seems that Blizzard have decided to extend their
The original scheme was dumb enough. Your real name is exposed to anyone you add to your friends list, and anyone who is on any of your friends' friend lists. Random internet nutters will be able to know what you are doing in any of Blizzard's games. Want to log on to an alt for quiet half hour's relaxation to make a change from raiding? Tough luck - you can run, but you can't hide. Want to post a sensible point on the WOW forums without some nerd-rage-fuelled stalker knowing your real name? Tough luck - it's StalkMe or nothing.
What's worse, the system defaults to on and requires an extremely convoluted workaround involving pretending to set up parental access controls. There is no clear or obvious way to disable StalkMe. Apparently there is also a bug which allows your StalkMe info to be passed on to anybody via an addon, friend or not
Was the whole of Blizzard on holiday during the Facebook privacy crisis? Is there truly nobody in the company with enough brainpower* to see the consequences of this? That at some point some random stranger is going to use StalkMe to track down someone they encountered online and harass them in real life.
To see what can go wrong, let's look at what happened when a Blizzard employee (Bashiok) posted his own real name to "prove how safe it is". Oops! Looks like he's had to take down his Facebook page already! For a mere $50 I could buy:
|Includes all 2 records for *NAME DELETED* in CA.|
|Report includes: (when available)|
No privacy concerns there, eh?
They've been warned repeatedly by the players about the potential problems. I don't think I've met anyone who actively thinks its a good idea. Views range from apathy to ferocious opposition.
Get a grip, Blizzard:
- Allow people to display a pseudonym instead of their real name.
- Make it easy and obvious how to disable StalkMe.
- Make it default to off, with an active decision to opt in, verified by authenticator, required.
* This is probably unfair. I'm sure there are plenty of people within Blizzard who warned of the foolishness of this change. The real question is: what's going on inside the company that caused this advice to be ignored?
There's an excellent post on this at Empowered Fire.
And another one by Larisa.
Yet another one at Escape Hatch.
And at Righteous Orbs.
Still more from Windsoar.
And from Soul Warding.
Kurn is also opposed.
As is Klepasovic.
And Miss Medicina.
Tobold has now weighed in against it too.
As has Shawndra from Escapist Scrawl.
Spinks is opposed too.
As is KiwiRed, who has also posted an extensive list of posts on the subject.
More objections at Storm, Earth and Fire.
Gnomeaggedon has cancelled his account.
Ciderhelm at Tankspot calls StalkMe "unethical and dangerous".
Pilf is also opposed.
As is Random.
Shakesville has joined the chorus.
Stylish Corpse describes it as "Fail of the Century".
Dwism simply says: "this is a dumb idea".
Scott Jennings is "not happy with this".
Apple says "Cut the crap, stop forcing us to abandon you in order to maintain some privacy".
Yva describes StalkMe as "a stepping stone for aforementioned cyber bullying and stalking".
Suicidal Zebra is concerned that this is a precursor to "the bait-and-switch, where this 'feature' is dropped but another slightly less offensive one is put in its place".
Kiryn points out that "Blizzard will be violating their own forum code of conduct, which specifically states that releasing personal information about other players is a bannable offense".
Anna says that "I don’t feel safe, both for reasons of hacking and for reasons of stalking/harassment".
Please note that I am not just judiciously selecting blogs that agree with me here.
Getting the message, yet, Blizzard?
You can complain about this change on the battle.net forum, US WOW forum or EU WOW forum.
Go do it!