How to Protect Your Privacy and Reputation While Blogging

When blogging, you need to protect your privacy and reputation — what you put on your blog today might stick around for a long time to come. Your viewpoints could rankle readers, and some may not always have your best interests at heart. Or, you may have posted some information on your blog that you’d rather someone — say, a new love interest or potential employer — not know.

Never put any personal identifying information online that exposes you to possible identity theft or physical confrontation:

  • Social Security Number

  • Home address

  • Birth date or place

  • Mother’s maiden name

  • Passwords

  • Bank account numbers, or any information 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 other people either.

Many bloggers solve privacy issues by choosing to blog anonymously or by using a handle — a phrase or moniker that doesn’t identify the writer. But don’t forget that many of your online identities are linked or are easily linked. For example, if you use a nickname when leaving comments on other blogs and then use that same nickname on a bulletin board or when signing up for a social networking service, it won’t be hard for people to connect the dots. In fact, many of these services already work together.

Anonymity is a great way to protect yourself on your own blog, but it won’t keep you from showing up in other people’s blogs or Flickr photo streams. If your friends and family have blogs, consider setting some ground rules with them about situations and topics you want excluded as subjects on their blogs. Be willing to accept the same kinds of requests about your own blog writing.

Take charge of your own online identity by starting a Web site or blog yourself. If other people are mentioning you online, having an “official” Web site with the right information on it can help supplant or downplay less desirable material.

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