8 Basic Tips For Bloggers Wanting To Safeguard Their Privacy
If you’ve been hanging around the blogosphere for a while, you’ve probably heard more than a few horror stories about bloggers losing their jobs, having their addresses posted online, or being harassed.
A lot of those stories are true and it’s why bloggers should take some very basic precautions to safeguard their privacy while they’re online. Of course, there’s no way to completely guarantee your privacy online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t minimize the risks.
Here are a few things I’ve picked up over the years, sometimes the hard way:
1) Don’t tell your blog readers where you work and don’t tell people at work about your blog. As a general rule, telling your boss that you blog makes him worry that you’re blogging on company time or that you might say something embarrassing to the company. Is that something you really want? Moreover, do you really want your boss checking your blog or your computer to see what you’re up to?
Along those same lines, if you tell people who read your blog where you work, you’re opening up a can of worms. You never know when some clown whom you offend may write your company and claim that you’re slandering people, making the company look bad, or doing who knows what. Whether it’s true or untrue, your boss is going to be unhappy with the unnecessary hassle, even if there’s nothing to it. That’s why keeping a wall of separation between where you work and where you blog is a good idea.
2) Think hard before you tell your readers where you live. It may seem harmless to tell people that you live in a particular city or town, but having that info may allow them to run it through a Reverse Address directory and pull up a phone number. To tell you the truth, you’re better off if you don’t give people a state you live in for reasons I’m not going to get into.
3) Unlisted Phone Number: Having an unlisted phone is a must if you don’t want people to simply look your name and address up online.
4) A P.O. Box: If, for some reason, you need to allow your readers to send you things via snail mail, buy a P.O. Box through the Post Office. They’re not terribly expensive and although they will allow people to pin down the general area you live in, they keep you from having to reveal your real address.
5) Email Precautions: First off, don’t ever send out email from a work address because obviously, if you’re sending out an email from [email protected], you just told them exactly where you work.
It’s also a good idea to send email from an online source, like Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail rather than an address provided by your ISP. If you have a small ISP, you may be inadvertently giving people an easy way to figure out the general area you live in.
6) Comments & IP Addresses: If you post in a comments section or forum of another website under your real name, the administrator should be able to see your IP address. If they run that address through a WHOIS search, they may be able to, depending on the situation, get a general idea of where you live or the company where you work (if you’re posting from work). Does that mean you should never post in a comment section? No, but I’d be very careful about posting in the comment sections of hostile blogs where they might be inclined to post your IP or try to harass you.
7) Hide Your Address On Your Domain: If you have your own domain for your blog, use a registrar like Dynadot or Go Daddy that allows you to hide your address, email, and phone number. Otherwise, a simple WHOIS will tell anyone and everyone all your contact information.
8) Don’t Forget The Wayback Machine: Do you have an old website with personal information on it? Then make sure to get it removed from the Wayback Machine, which caches websites, even ones that are no longer up and running. Removal details are located here.