Tips for the anonymous blogger
I have predicted last year, that the wave of anonymous bloggers is going to grow larger and larger. The appeal of anonymity is just too great for most people to resist, yet, the most careful of these anonymous bloggers might get caught and get exposed. Causing so much embarrassment and the possibility of prosecution. Although -and read this very carefully- if you're doing something that might be illegal, no amount of caution is going to stop the authorities from digging you up and taking you to jail.
Anonymity allows people to be free, at the expense of their credibility, free from their social luggage, from their familial and friendly ties, and from their employment, social and religious associations. Yet, the golden ratio: Anonymity x credibility = constant.
The beauty of anonymity comes when an abused wife, husband, child, employee or even a citizen, starts publishing their thoughts away from the red tape. Giving them the freedom to really state their mind, their feelings, and vent out all their frustrations. All while interacting with people around them... Anyway, lets get to the list of tips, I hope someone out there is going to find this useful
Even if you're not really anonymous, some of these tips might help you out maintaining your privacy. Of course, making sure that you computer is virus, and malware free go without saying.
Tips for the anonymous blogger...
- Select an identity.
Being anonymous doesn't mean that you have the name "Anonymous" all over you. You will need to create a personality, pick a name that you can identify with.
- Create an alternate email address.
Don't use your everyday email address for this stuff, or what good would the identity do you if you have the name all over your email?
- Resist the temptation to forward your blog to your friends.
Yes, it's cool to have friends who will visit your blog, but that's for normal bloggers. Anonymous bloggers need to be careful. Your best friend might be the one giving your blog address away to your enemies in a moment of stupidity or anger.
Oh and don't go around putting your blog address in your MSN
- Be careful where you establish your blog.
Some sites like Blogger/blogspot will respect your privacy and maintain it at all times. (unless you do something really stupid and you get the US government on your tail). But others are not as vigilant about your privacy.
- Be careful where you leave comments.
Blog owners might have access to additional information about you. like your email (not on blogspot), or your IP Address, etc.
- Be careful what kind of information you add about yourself.
Your birth-date, where you live, the kind of car you drive, the color of your hair can always be used to track things back to you.
- Be aware of what kind of advertising or widgets that you add to your site
- Resist the temptation to comment on your friend's blogs with your alter-ego
Your friends are going to know it's you. Or at least they will suspect it
- Stay away from social networks
Social networks are the devil, stay as far away from them (with your new identity) as you can. They will collect too much information about you to lead people straight to you.
- Cover your tracks
Don't use your IP to leave comments, use a proxy. Use someone else's wireless network or an Internet cafe. Whatever you do, don't use your own IP
That applies to your work network as well. Don't use it if you're planning on staying anonymous
- Don't ever use your real name, and your anonymous identity in the same page
Google, and other search engines might draw a relationship between the two and now you're doomed!
- Change your writing style
If you're a blogger, and maintain a formal blog. Make sure you alter your writing style slightly so people will not know it's you. Better yet, if you can blog in another language, do so.
- Don't get too friendly with online friends
Lets face it, people come to you, pretend like they're your best friends for months just to get some info about you and then flip. Or worse they can black mail you. The truth is, you're the slave of whoever has your secret. You can't argue with them (much) and you can't attack them (if you waned to)
- Hide your stats
Yes, it's awesome to share your stats with people. Especially where they come from and where they refer to you. But be extra careful, a smart investigator might be able to draw connections pretty quickly
- Resist linking your identity to your alternate identity.
Yes, liking enhances your rating and what not, so if you do it, don't do only these two. Or link to your boyfriend/girlfriend (ONLY) since many smart people will figure out the connection in no time
- Be skeptical about your hosting company,
Also make sure they get different IP's if at all possible
- Be careful of your domain registrar and your email provider
These guys might be providing some statistical details about you. Be very careful when dealing with them. Make sure they don't provide this information to the mass public
- Avoid anywhere that requires credit card check, identity check or bank account check
Yes, Paypal, ebay and Amazon are fantastic services. But they also require some form of identification that can lead people straight to you.
Oh and don't do something stupid like linking to your wish list or eBay bid that contains your full and complete details
- When signing up for blog related services, always use your blog identity.
Technorati and the likes will display your details, make sure you know which details to provide
- Make sure you don't leave any hints in your "non-published" or "non-visible" content.
You think no one looks at your Html code? Think again, people might inspect your code for clues. Just make sure that you don't expose any of your information in comments, or any other hidden fields or objects. EVEN if you think it's encrypted, someone might end up cracking it
- Be careful with cookies
Cookies might allow site owners to identify you, and your behaviors. So be extra careful with these. In layman's terms, just set your cookie privacy to medium or higher
- When checking your stats. Remember not to click on the links to other people's sites. Copy the shortcut, and paste it in the browser.
People often check their stats, and they will know your IP Address from where you came from, since only you have access to your Stat pages.
- Remember to logoff.
At the end, no one can tell you how to run your private business but you. Being sloppy, and lazy might cost you a lot more than just getting exposed. You might end up losing the relationships that you didn't really want to lose or gaining ones that you shouldn't. Your identity is something that you will create, you need to be responsible for it's well being and it's image as you would for your own. Just make sure you don't over do it and wipe out your original identity in the process.
There you have it... may you have a happy, safe, and most importantly, private blogging experience