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  • Private? Messages

    Hi everyone,

    First of all, I apologize for posting this here. In a sense, I'm asking for support, but I don't have a license. I'm asking this question as a forum goer who wants to be sure his privacy is protected, and I just didn't know where to post that.

    I'm a regular user on a forum powered by vBulletin, version 3.8.1 to be more precise. I set my account so as to receive a mail notification when someone sends me a PM. These notifications are apparently sent from the admin's adress ([email protected]); here's one such notification:

    DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL!
    ***************************

    Dear fatK,

    You have received a new private message at XXX from XXX, entitled "XXX".

    To read the original version, respond to, or delete this message, you must log in here:
    http://www.XXX.com/private.php

    This is the message that was sent:
    ***************
    *insert full PM*
    ***************

    Again, please do not reply to this email. You must go to the following page to reply to this private message:
    http://www.XXX.com/private.php

    All the best,
    XXX
    In other words, the notifications always contain the actual PMs that were sent to me.

    So what I'd like to know is, can the admin read those notifications/PMs? Are the notifications saved in his sent mails folder, as they appear in my mail, i.e. with the PMs in them? Would it be legal for him to read them without permission? If I disable the mail notification function, would there still be *any* way for him to read my PMs?

    Lastly, I'll make it quick: I have reasons to believe he would read those notifications/PMs if he could and wouldn't admit it if I asked him -- because this exact situation already happened in a much different context (still Net-related though). And now I'm terribly paranoid as you may have noticed. ^^;; We're not in bad terms, and in fact I'd even say we get along just fine, but I have evidences he just can't fight his curiosity.

    Sorry again for posting this here. I can understand if you can't/don't want to answer, but I'd really appreciate it if you could direct me to a place I could get an answer to my questions.

  • #2
    Any admin will almost certainly have access to the forum database, and if he does, then yes he can read your PMs. That's not to say he DOES but he COULD.
    In most countries this isn't illegal, but in some it would be.

    Generally, the phrase "Private Message" is misused, it should be "PERSONAL Message". Don't send anything through ANY forum PM system - vBulletin or anything else - unless you'd be happy for others to read it. It's not designed for confidentiality. Use email with a security key for that.
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    • #3
      Thank you for your answer! Definitely clears it up. This is... a bit scary. I'm sure I'm not the only one to misunderstand what "private message" means... Thanks for your suggestions; next time I don't want something to be potentially read by others, I'll use emails!

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      • #4
        You should talk to the person, in person. All other forms of communication in this day and age have the posablity to be snooped on by someone who is determined. Legally or otherwise.

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        • #5
          That would definitely be the way to go, but when the persons you want to talk to live on the other side of the world...

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          • #6
            Emails, if unencrypted, can also be read by administrators on the sending and/or receiving email server.

            You should be able to get an honest answer from your Admin if he does or does not read PMs. If he dodges the question that is most certainly a yes. He doesn't even need to use the database, there are mods that allow him to read the PM right from his administrator control panel.

            Note- this is not unique to vBulletin- all forums that have PMs have ways for admins to read them.

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