Your blog may not reflect the viewpoints or opinions of your workplace, employer, family and community, but they DO reflect your own. While we've talked a lot about ethics and spillover effect from blogging, but it's important not to loose sight that what you write on your blog may stick around for a long time - and any reader may not have your best interests in mind.
/READ MORE// How To Change Publishing Settings in Blogger
Never EVER put anything personal, or any personal identification information online that could expose you to identity theft or issues in the real world.Never post your address, Social Insurance Number, bank account information or numbers, passwords, date or place of birth, or identifying information for your financial institutions. Many bloggers also keep phone numbers private as well (or use a burner number). It's also important to keep this information about other private and confidential.
Many bloggers address these privacy issues by blogging anonymously or using a handle - a phrase or title that doesn't identify the writer. Think of it as a modern day pen name.It's also important to know that your online identities are linked and easily linked to. If you have a nickname, for example, when you leave a comment on a specific forum or blog, then use that same moniker when you sign up for a social media service, it won't be hard for some people to connect the dots. Many of these services already work together.
For example, let's say you start a blog using Blogger. You can set your blog to import your Flickr photos, display your twitter feed, show your del.is.ious bookmarks, etc. You can then have a Facebook page linked to the Twitter, to post from one to the other. Facebook can pull in your Amazon wish list, music playlist, Google drive and on and on. You can go so far as having a service like IFTTT activate your home lighting based on new Tweets. The point of all of this is: say you've identified yourself to your friends on Facebook, it wouldn't be hard to have someone track down all this linked information and tie it back to you - or even find you by following this digital trail.
Anonymity is a great start to protecting yourself online, but it won't prevent you from showing up in other people's Facebook feeds, photos, or blogs. If you have friends or family who write blogs, consider setting some ground rules with them about what you want to and don't want to be included in. Be open to considering the same requests to you from others.
One of the best ways to prevent damage to your online identity is to start a website or blog yourself.
If other people post information or mention you online, you can have an 'official' webpage with the correct information to downplay or correct any information out there.
If you want more information about identity theft, protecting your privacy and controlling your digital identity, I highly recommend you read up at some of these great websites and resources:
- for advice on blogging safely and anonymously, check out The Electronic Frontier Foundation's guide "How to Blog Safely (About Work, or Anything Else)"
- for resources on issues include defamation, privacy rights, and liability, read The EFF's Legal Guide for Bloggers
- for a broad overview of online identity issues, consider checking out Wikipedia's seriously comprehensive article here
- Blogger Anil Dash has written a great article about taking control of your digital identity and I highly recommend reading that too
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