they were. Could you please tell me how to find out who the person
First, be aware that most instant messaging programs allow you to block
instant messages from people you don’t know. I would do that immediately. Then,
when someone wants to IM you, you have to approve it.
But as for finding out who did, the news is not good. Possible? Technically,
yes, but not likely.
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When you instant message someone, your computer is not talking to theirs.
Your computer is actually talking to the computers at the instant messaging
service, which then relays your message to the computer of the person you’re
talking with. So if you’re using MSN Messenger, for example, when you send a
message your computer sends it to the computers out at Microsoft, which then
send it to whomever you’re chatting with. When they respond, the same thing
happens in reverse. (In some services, you can establish what’s called a
“direct connection”, which may connect you directly, but it requires both ends
of the conversation to agree, and someone attempting to remain anonymous will
know enough not to do that.)
The result is that there’s no information that you have access to
that would tell you who that person really is. All you have is a screen name,
and that’s it. If that person has chosen to keep the public information about
that screen name vague or blank, then I know of no way for you to find
out who they really are.
Now, obviously, the instant messaging service knows both the account details
and IP addresses for both of you – at least for as long as they might keep the
records. But these services have strict privacy policies that will prevent them
from just handing out that information to anyone. In fact, they’re going to
make it almost impossible to get. It’s my belief that it will take law
enforcement or even a court order to get useful information from the instant
messaging services. And then, even if you do get the IP address of the other
person, you’d have to go through the same legal hoops to get their ISP to
provide you with any practical, identifiable information.
So that’s a really long answer that boils down to this:
No, there is no practical way for you to find out who’s
contacting you via instant messaging if you don’t already know.