Thank you MeanMrMustard and welcome to the forum. We appreciate your technical skills and we will be looking forward to more posts from you.
Rick, I am listening through the second call right now, more specifically to the first part of the call when "Mary" was on, and everyone was proclaiming that they were on JTB's side. It also seems like there was discernible irritation at the skeptical posters of this forum. I think its safe to say that we are all on the same "side" here - that "side" being the opposite of the WTS. For me, it wasn't until after exiting the WTS that I began to realize just how much propaganda I believed and pushed, and it made me feel ashamed. Nobody wants to go back there. Nobody wants to replace one propaganda for another. Even more importantly, I want to make sure I am no part of pushing things that I can't back up with facts. Why? It makes the WTS look right. All they have to do is point to us and say, "Look at these guys over here. Who do you think is more looney, them or us?" - and when the answer is clearly the exJWs, it might have the effect of pushing some "fence-riders" (those that are not sure whether they are going to leave the WT or not) back into the WTS.
Am I just being overly critical? I don't think so. I've seen some pretty crazy people post on anti-JW forums. My mind goes back to a user on CARM (a few years back), an exJW, that started to post he was the next manifestation of Jesus, giving scriptural "evidence" that Jesus would return as a gay, black man (which this poster was). Now, I know that JTB isn't saying stuff *THAT* crazy, and I don't want to be accused of comparing apples to oranges, but what I am trying to say is that those who are skeptical have a good reason to be - just think of the what the WTS did to all of us, and also consider there are some real nut jobs in the world.
JTB may be one... or he may not be... evidence would really help. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence..
That being said, this thread has shown that it could be possible for the WTS to plant links into posts on various forums and collect the IP addresses of the computers as each browser connects in to download the graphic. This would NOT correlate the IP address with any particular username on the forum, and it would also give the WTS the IP addresses of the lurkers. The IP address does NOT indicate who the person is, their real name or address, without going to the ISP with a court order to release the data. You *might* be able to trace the IP address to a city or town.
However, the WTS would probably keep a list of IP addresses used by elders when logging into jw.org. They would know which user (jw.org user) corresponded to each logged IP address, whether that was from home or work, or both. If they bumped that database up against the list get back from forum IPs, it would leave a list of names (actual elders names) that have viewed the graphic from a forum on which it was placed.
There would still be NO way to get the forum username from all this. And if the forum user was NOT an elder, like me, there would be no way of identifying me. The best they could do with someone like me (a person not DFed or DAed, still on the "roles", and posting to this forum), is to try to crack my identicon. Then get my IP address and get the city where I reside. I would then be one of the inactive people residing in that city - MAYBE - unless I started using a proxy server :)... did I? didn't I? --- the WTS would have no way of knowing. Because there are probably thousands of inactive JWs in this city (even if they got the right one), there is no way they would ever get my identity from this. Is it impossible? No, they would have to target my posts and hope I give up personal information that would narrow it down. For example, if I said I am single... or if I said I have 12 kids.... then they could narrow it down further to find me.
I don't think the WTS cares about me. They might if I try to hack them :)
But more importantly, if the WTS is planting links to log IPs, then there should be evidence left over in some posts. All JTB has to do is give up a username.. that's it.. and we can all check to see if there are pictures in the user's post that link back to a domain registered by the WTS or a JW. Still not conclusive proof, but better than nothing! And it would also mean the WTS is running a server on port 80 somewhere out there... wonder if their web server has good security???