It is probably important for some to know that Firestorm Viewer 4.7.1 Public Beta will be blocked starting tomorrow 1/7/16. Reference Also, after the next release (February? March?) the version 4.6.9, used by Windows XP and Mac 10.6 users, will be blocked.
The Firestorm Team has made a second request for help with their gateway project. This time they are asking for user testimonials. They will be adding these to their web gateway pages that lead new users to their gateway regions. See: Share Your Love of Second Life with a Testimonial.
If you have a blog or other web site, you can help by linking to Firestorm’s gateway landing pages. See their ‘share’ post for a list of the 6 landing pages. You’ll also find them in my blog roll.
They also want pictures. What they are looking for are; Face shots (not full body), square images are ideal (they will crop if necessary), a minimum of 350 x 350 pixels, and they prefer jpg. Higher resolution images will probably work better. There are often pictures within an image that we don’t see, but the web designer does. Those can be pulled from hi-rez images.
They are asking for your name. Your RL first name will do. The team promises not to publish anything that will link your RL and SL names.
Some of us REALLY do not want our SL and RL mixed. So we consider what people plan to do with identity information. Then we consider what people can do with the information we provide. Often those wanting information never take a second step in their thinking of what one can do with the information they are given.
My thinking runs like this. I provide a RL first name and a picture of my avatar’s face. Now I can use an app like BetaFace.com to find people matches for the image. My avatar is a 54% match for Janet Jackson and Flores Nunez, I’m flattered. Or I can use Image.Google.com to search for a matching images. Then there are the FB apps for facial recognition. There are the various reverse facial image searches, like 3 Fascinating Search Engines that Search for Faces (old article).
The state of the art in this tech is both very advanced and very primitive. The matching tech is scary. It is showing up in lots of new places. However, the user interfaces are primitive and the databases they have to perform matching on are limited, as in not many known faces. But, on FB and Picasa the databases are larger than most.
I could not find my avatar in any of the recognition programs I tried. I think it is just a matter of time until that changes. So, while the Firestorm Team is unlikely to miss use your information, it is information others can miss use. Those of us that remember Emerald know that everyone in a large team is not homogenous in their thinking or ethics. But, for now it appears to me to be a small risk that your RL name and avatar name from an image can be connected is small.
I wonder what message this sends to new users? If they see an avatar and a RL name, doesn’t that imply the two are connected? Aren’t they, in this case? If I wanted anonymity, I would be having second thoughts or, in my case, asking about it.