I decided that I wanted to try Kitely, but presently it only supports Facebook as the login authentication mechanism. Something (perhaps common sense) told me not to use my RL Facebook account, that would be mixing real-life (RL) and virtual identities, so I considered this a prohibitive requirement.
Since other methods are “coming soon”, I waited a month or two hoping to see it appear, but it has not, so it was time to reconsider my waiting and look at alternatives. I didn’t want to wait any longer to try it, so one alternative was to create a Facebook account for my virtual identity. I was worried about Facebook selling this information to others, so I created a new email account specifically for Facebook use only, with “facebook” as the name (to the left of the ‘@’ sign).
Facebook has been disabling accounts virtual identities, as that undermines (pardon the pun) their ability to datamine valuable information which can then be resold to other interested parties. They require that you put in your RL information as part of their Terms of Service. This leaves virtual identities out in the cold. I ignored that; I just needed this account for Kitely. I also wasn’t going to upload a RL pic for them to use their facial recognition software and reveal my RL identity, so let them try to identify my account as virtual. It’s just a mostly blank account, with everything RL filled in except my name.
All of this strict and careful planning went out the window on the next step. While creating the Facebook account, it asked me if I had accounts for Skype, Twitter, etc. I had a virtual identity in Skype, so I thought it would be safe to associate that virtual identity with my Facebook virtual identity.
Yes, safe for me. But not for my friends. Facebook started suggesting that I friend a bunch of Facebook people — about one hundred (I didn’t count but it was a very long list). And here is the kicker: it was suggesting my virtual friends, using their RL names.
Now, I did know a few of those RL names already, but others I knew only because I had gotten an real email from them with their RL name in the email address. Either they let down their guard and trusted me, or didn’t realize the From: name on the email was revealing. But if I had not received those emails, I would not have known their email addresses. Facebook didn’t care, it matched their email addresses against the Skype accounts, and offered them to me as possible friends. And in the case of others, where I didn’t recognize their names at all, but I did recognize their general appearance, age, sex, home location, etc.
I considered those to effectively be privacy violations on the part of Facebook. My various accounts have friends, and while the different services offer ways to communicate with them, they tend to hide their actual email address from me. Facebook is using that information to connect different accounts on different systems, in this case my Skype friends with Facebook identities.
So here is where convergence has failed us: Facebook was offering to connect my virtual friends in Skype with their RL identities in Facebook.
I declined to add those people as friends in Facebook, because I didn’t want to connect their RL identities to my virtual name, so that if someone googles me, they find the Facebook account, look at the friends and bam!, they have RL identities of my SL and InWorldz friends.
If I accept the cross-over between RL friends and my virtual account, a stalker seeking one of my friends suddenly has a critical link to their RL info, through me.
This again is why we have to be careful with our RL identities. It is why the use of RL-only services such as Facebook are completely unsuitable for virtual worlds like Kitely, InWorldz, or Second Life.
Kitely is the only one that completely requires a Facebook account for access. This needs to change as soon as possible.
Due to Facebook’s terms of service restrictions, and their attempts at possibly unwanted and unintended identity convergence, I strongly recommend you avoid any connection between your virtual worlds and Facebook, and obviously that includes using it for Kitely.