We've long known of the big search engines capturing words as they were typed into search boxes even before the search request was ever sent, or even if it was never sent but backed off letter by letter and cleared away (seemingly deleted). It was in fact captured, in a sense of unwanted, unexpected remote monitoring going on.
Now comes Second Life and these mysterious "blackliners." These are avatars standing around in SL capturing ... what? Well, you tell me. I've never seen this until now. I'm referring to the ubiquitous black line in the viewers' "Look At" spectrum, where that particular line is reported to represent "respond," as in to "look at someone when typing a response to them." We occasionally see these lines (if you have Look Ats turned on) and it's kind of hard to really understand how they work because they are few and seldom seen, and really who cares what they are, right?
But now comes this new phenomenon (at least to my view), wherein these lines are showing up in multitudes (in certain places) that simultaneously hit you when you begin to type the first letter into local chat even without sending anything, so that you suddenly become the very hub of a bicycle wheel with multiple spokes of black LookAts pinged to your face, waiting, "listening." They remain on you as you are typing and only disappear some seconds after you stop, or after you post your message. They will then jump to the next avatar in range who happens to begin typing into local and will do the same there. By all indications this does not seem to be the original implication of the black "Lookat" line. This is a new mysterious black lookat, and so I call these avatars blackliners; they are not "responding" as suggested in the material, because no response is ever made. Their response is to open up a "listen" to your keys and who knows what else. And this is something that you yourself will have triggered whenever you are around these planted blackliners by the simple act of typing into local, and too, is triggered too by whatever scripts these plants are running. In fact, the very test of knowing when you are in the presence of some blackliners, is to simply type a random letter into Local Chat (you don't even have to send it) and then watch to see if any black lines instantly hit your avatar and remain there for the "listening" interim. To see this right now, you can go to Horizons Info Hub in Second Life and run this little experiment of typing into local, and (if you have LookAts turned on in your viewer) you will see the few blackliners that are there key onto you, as they listen. If you stop typing they will drop the lines after a few seconds. And if you backspace your letter off they will instantly key onto you again, listening and waiting. I've begun testing routinely now every sim I visit out of curiosity and you can be hit by blackliners at Escort Oasis right now, too. Other places they've moved on.
This is a phenomenon I've never noticed until recent months. You can't predict where they are. I've been to many adult sims and no blackliners. It is all random at present, but likely growing. I've not tested London City, or a multitude of other popular spots; I'm just reporting here what I have observed recently in the last 2 weeks and has concerned me, although I first noticed the phenomenal bike wheel blast of black lines on me about 2 months ago. I wish I could remember what club that was.
SO.., like those online search engines this phenomenon seems to suggest a listening script that detects when you touch a key while in the local chat bar, and if its "response" generates the black Lookat, then it would seem to be one that zeroes in on whomever touches local chat, and that is a "listening" instead of "responding." Why? Who can know. Has the FireStorm viewer been hacked to capture key strokes like this? And why would anyone want to? Who knows. Has a rogue 3rd party viewer been developed and put inworld for unknown data harvesting? I saw one blackliner in a popular dance club where it danced silently, casting out those black lookats at every local posting for 2 days straight for whatever reason, and then it was gone. Three days ago I noticed 4 blackliners monitoring at Horizons Info Hub. Next day one of them stopped the activity and was still standing in place while a new avatar (3 months old) was dropped beside her to keep the total monitors at 4. I have all their names.
These blackliners are dynamically situated for a while and then moved. I now test every sim I visit out of curiosity, by simply typing a letter in Local to see if blacklines hit me, and when it does it's always the suspect bland avatar profile, mostly blank, or else many years old as if a purchased (or stolen) secondhand account. Only rarely can you catch these blackliners, so you have to get in the routine of testing every landing you make.
Ok. I'm embarrassed to have reported all this publicly because I don't want to be told I'm a paranoid conspiracy nut. I'm just someone who observes keenly, and I can't help but believe that something new is afoot that I've never seen before and my oldest avatar is nearing 9 years. Yeah, maybe I'm full of it. And yet, maybe this is indeed of interest to others, because it could suggest attempts at remote monitoring of people's communications even when the words typed were never intended to be sent. Maybe it means even worst incursions, I can't say. I hope not to get crack pot, derisive comments in response, but rather some real and considered technical discussion of whether such an exploit in a hacked viewer is possible. Because, you would think that data collected even slowly in contemporaneous ingame fashion as this suggests, could as easily be contemporaneously relayed over to whatever clients wants to collect it. So, whatever hacker created this enterprise could simply drop off avatar monitors all over and leave them to do their work. What work? Yeah, that's the question.