The first was the author of a book for which I left a positive review. He sent out what seemed to be a mass email directed at those of us who'd left positive reviews inviting us for a personal telephone consultation to ask him questions (or something like that) and it sounded magnanimous, but it was clearly a nice ploy for him to make more money off of his readers.
I thought about contacting him to ask how he got my email, but instead figured maybe authors get that opportunity via Amazon and just deleted the email.
However, it niggled in the back of my mind that authors could contact their Amazon reviewers without our permission.
Now, my policy is to not go lower than 3 stars on a product and to always say something positive, no matter how many negatives there are. However, some sellers can get their nose out of joint over a 4-star review, let alone a genuinely negative one.
I didn't like the thought of a seller being able to track me down. While the above author's email meant to be positive, a seller could also use this information to harass a negative reviewer. Or, if the reviewer is also a seller, to leave fake negative reviews in revenge.
(And now that I think about it...how do I know it was actually the author at all? It could have been someone impersonating the author to get me to sign up or to steal my credit card information.)
Several months after that, I started getting emails from untraceable sources asking me to review different products on Amazon, some even stating that they got my email from Amazon -- selling nothing that connected to anything I'd actually bought via Amazon.
They were really annoying and again, I wondered how they got my information.
Also, I haven't bought much on Amazon nor have I left many reviews. So why me?
I'm still getting them several times weekly and it's very annoying.
The last straw was a PR agent who emailed me asking me to review their client's product. This time, I asked them how they got my email.
From Amazon, came the cheerful reply. Based on your review! And they helpfully included the exact product I bought with the name of the seller -- which I had indeed reviewed.
I politely declined the product.
But then I contacted Amazon customer service, where a rep reassured me in no uncertain terms that Amazon NEVER gives out reviewer emails.
The rep pointed out a slight change in the name of the product, which she said indicates that a phishing bot lifted my email from my review.
I hadn't heard of this particular trick before and she explained briefly, but I didn't really get it. How can that happen? After all, my email isn't included in the form for the review. It sounds very sophisticated to me.
But then again, I'm far from being competent with hi-tech.
Anyway, the rep was very nice and reassuring and invited me to send the email exchange to their fraud unit so they could take care of it, which I did.
The thing is, I looked up the PR agent and it's a real PR firm. The client also exists as does his product for sale.
These aren't bots.
It's also disturbing because many people choose highly identifiable usernames like: MordyMoskowitz@monsey.com
So apparently, there is some way to lift the email from the reviewer name, even though when you write a review, your email isn't anywhere there in the review form.
How are they doing this?
They don't just mean how it is now, that with a lot of effort, you can be tracked (at least somewhat, depending) via your IP.
They mean you'll be readily identifiable.
But the thing about all this hi-tech stuff is that when a new capability arrives, most people don't necessarily know about it immediately. Meaning, when the ability to easily track down your comment or review or post or email arrives, it's not like it will be announced so that you can run for cover prior to the big identity expose.
It'll just happen.
And it'll become known due to the protests of the people who get hit first.
Based on my experience above (which still makes no sense to me), I think it might already be here.
Someone Omnipotent already knows exactly who you are and exactly what you wrote (or texted). And that Someone even knows you're true intention behind whatever you posted.
And that's the main thing to be concerned about.
What does HE think?