How to Blog and Protect Your Privacy and Reputation
Your blog might not reflect your employer's viewpoints or your family's, but it certainly reflects your own. Don't forget that what you put on your blog today might stick around for a long time to come and that the reader might not always have your best interests at heart.
Never put any personal identifying information online that exposes you to possible identity theft or physical confrontation. Don't post your Social Security number, home address, birthdate or place, mother's maiden name, passwords, bank account numbers, or any information that you use as password reminders or identifying information with financial institutions.
Most bloggers prefer to keep phone numbers private, as well. Don't reveal this information about the people you blog about, either.
Many bloggers solve the issues by choosing to blog anonymously or by using a handle — a phrase or moniker that doesn't personally identify the writer.
Don't forget that many of your online identities are linked. For example, if you use a nickname when you leave comments on other blogs, and then use that same nickname on a bulletin board or when you sign up for a social-networking service, people can easily connect the dots.
In fact, many of these services already work together. Most social media platforms are now connected. For example, posts on Instagram can also appear simultaneously on Facebook and Twitter. If you identify yourself on any of these sites or tools and then tie them together in some way, others can easily follow the trail to figure out who you are.
Anonymity gives you a great way to protect yourself on your own blog, but it doesn't keep you from showing up on other people's blogs or Flickr photo streams. If your friends and family have blogs, consider setting ground rules with them about situations and topics that you want excluded as subjects on their blogs. Be willing to accept the same kinds of requests about your own blog writing.
One of the best ways to take charge of your own online identity is to start a website or blog yourself. If other people are mentioning you online, having an official website that contains accurate information can help supplant or downplay less desirable material.
If you want to find out more about controlling your online identity or protecting your privacy, review some of these great online resources:
Visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) guide How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else) for advice on blogging anonymously.
The EFF's Legal Guide for Bloggers is a great resource on a number of issues, including defamation, privacy rights, and legal liability.
Reputation.com is the first business dedicated to online reputation management and provides a variety of resources for those concerned with how they appear online.
Wikipedia's entry on Online Identity is informative and useful, and covers more than just blogging.