My digital doppelganger needs to be safe!
July 1, 2010 12:52 AM   Subscribe

How do you keep your alias' digital doppelganger safe?

I have an imprint on the world wide web. It is an alias, however, this imprint has two blogs, a food review account (so if someone wanted to stalk me, they could find out what state I am in), and a twitter page. I am considering connecting my Etsy account to these pages just to generate traffic and obtain some sort of secondary income from ads.

All four of these "hubs" are interconnected and public, so anyone who really wanted to gather as much info about my alias could, however, I have been diligent in making sure that nothing else is available about me but city and state. I have never mentioned my name, where I work, or where I have attended school.

My question to the hive is [and I apologize if I have forgotten to add any additional information that would be helpful for additional advice]:

What do I need to do to make sure that the content I do have out cannot track my real persona?
posted by penguingrl to Technology (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
remove any gps metadata from any photos you take (e.g. photos taken of crafts at home on an iphone would have your exact gps location embedded in them)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:58 AM on July 1, 2010

Response by poster: I've posted pictures, but they are from a digital camera. I didn't even know pictures had gps embedded in them! Thanks!
posted by penguingrl at 1:01 AM on July 1, 2010

Your camera is unlikely to have a gps, but many cameraphones do
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:08 AM on July 1, 2010

Most digital cameras don't have a GPS or any way to know where you are, so you're probably safe in that case. If it's a fairly expensive and very modern camera you might want to check.
posted by emilyw at 1:11 AM on July 1, 2010

Response by poster: ok, thanks guys. :)

any additional tips on actual content on these sites i have? like i stated in the original post, i make sure i do not accidentally mention anything specific that can be used to track me down.
posted by penguingrl at 1:12 AM on July 1, 2010

If people buy from you on Etsy they will find out at least your details for billing purposes. If you're legally doing business under a different name then there is a on of public paperwork linking your real name to your business name.

If you have registered your own domain name, doing a whois might turn up your name. You can pay a yearly fee to your registrar to anonymize it.

Have you used your alias -anywhere- else? Ever?

Do a Google search with your real name (just first, just last) + your pseudonym and see if anything comes up. Do the same with your name + your blog, etc.

Have you ever cross-linked any of your pseudonyms? (For example, the name on my Flickr account is my newer alias, but the web address on my photos is my older alias, linking the two together.)
posted by Ookseer at 1:23 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ookseer, I do not have my own website, so no domain name. I just did the name + alias search and nothing of my info has popped up. Same result for my name + blog. I've never put my name on any account and then just put a "nick name" to it, I've literally used my alias as the name on the accounts, I have my own Jane Smith, so to speak. The only thing that each account has in common are the login email, which is my main and I always select that as private and to be unsearchable.
posted by penguingrl at 1:27 AM on July 1, 2010

Obviously, no photographs of uniquely identifiable things from near where you live. And if you want to state things about yourself, keep track of what you've said so you don't gradually build up a specific description.

If you're planning something that might involve press interest, you could consider how people like Belle de Jour and Fake Steve Jobs were unmasked - and/or how people attempted to unmask them.

For example, don't tell your jealous ex-boyfriend; don't unmask yourself; try to identify and eliminate any elements of your writing style that could be specific to you, or could imply your location. I'm sure you can find other examples of attempts at unmasking from those links.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:04 AM on July 1, 2010

Response by poster: The only thing that concerns me about the "specific description" you mention is that I have a Yelp account where I write restaurant reviews and food/wine walks. I have forgone the Elite status for the sake of my anonymity, but still, the restaurants I write about definitely narrow what state county I am in, if not my general area. Furthermore, I have one blog that talks about the joys of being's nothing jaded or cynical, but simply a celebration of wonderful things that have happened. I have been careful not to mention my occupation, relationship specifics, and definitely do not post any pictures that could lead to anything (unlike most bloggers).
posted by penguingrl at 2:23 AM on July 1, 2010

People can probably find out what city you live in from restaurant reviews, but that really isn't much to be worried about. It isn't like they can find your house or anything.
posted by twblalock at 2:41 AM on July 1, 2010

I don't really know how to do this, but the aforementioned Belle de Jour was able to preempt a planned tabloid expose and instead reveal her identity on her own terms. I think a friend set up a gibberish page that mentioned "belle de jour" + her real name, but separated by a ton of meaningless data. So, when someone visited that site, he knew that someone had figured her out.

You could probably do that. But then again, she was a world-famous former prostitute. I am guessing you are just a person.
posted by acidic at 6:00 AM on July 1, 2010

Type in your real name and your alias in the search engine. If your data doeasn't come up there, you have your answer... Try the alias first and see if it brings up your private info.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:02 PM on July 1, 2010

And, just because I'm a cynical SOB, when you follow Unicorn on the cob's advice, don't make the two searches in the same session and preferably not from the same place and computer.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 1:36 PM on July 1, 2010

"What do I need to do to make sure that the content I do have out cannot track my real persona?"

The simple answer is, don't have any out there. Seriously - despite the advice above, were someone to want to 'connect the dots', they would be able to, despite your best mitigation.

So the question really is better phrased, perhaps, as "How anonymous could I expect to be given these hints and tips on the web";

If you are 'just a person' then who would want to find you? How much time and effort and money are they prepared to spend to do so? To what end?

Only you can answer these questions and only you can judge the worth of their answers - because if you are 'online', then, ultimately, you can be found.

Don't criticise any mobsters favorite seafood haunts and you'll be fine.

Probably. ;)
posted by DrtyBlvd at 5:00 PM on July 1, 2010

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