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How to Use YouTube Anonymously to Keep Your Personal Information Private

You are your username on the internet. For most of the YouTube community, that’s all you are. This means you do not have to share personal information.

Registering with YouTube is an anonymous procedure — you don’t need to give your name, just your e-mail address. YouTube keeps that information private, so really, all that other YouTube users know about you automatically is your username. Any other information is divulged by you.

Keep your identity a secret. Let them call you Batman, not Bruce Wayne. YouTube is a community of millions of people, and you seldom truly know who it is you’re interacting with. That’s why the best policy — the smartest policy — is to use the Tube within the shelter of your anonymous username.

The following is a list of things to consider when using YouTube anonymously:

  • Don’t use your full name as your username. Be johniscool rather than johnsmith. That might seem obvious, but it’s not always the case. That’s because many people use YouTube for exactly that reason: to get their names out there.

    If you’re a comedian, chances are that you want your name on your videos. You want an agent. You want to get hired. It only makes sense. If you’re not trying to get famous on YouTube, though, don’t post your full name anywhere.

  • Don’t reveal too much in your videos. If, for some reason, your video contains footage of the outside of your house, avoid showing your full address.

    In other words, if you see the number 24 on the door and then in a later frame see you and your husband walking the dog past a street sign that reads Princeton, you have a pretty good idea of where you live. For the same reason, avoid showing the license plate on your car.

  • Be careful with kids and the family videos. One of the greatest things about YouTube is that you can easily share videos with family and friends across the miles. For family videos, upload them as private videos — ones that can be viewed only by people you designate.

  • Don’t reveal too much on your channel. Customizing your channel on YouTube is a great way to introduce yourself to the YouTube community, creating a place where users can go to see all the videos that you upload and to learn more about you.

    However, make sure that they don’t learn too much. Unless you’re looking to get famous or want to be contacted by any random person on the Tube, don’t post your full name or personal contact information. Remember that your channel is no more private than any other page on YouTube.

  • Think twice before giving out your personal e-mail address. People often forget that YouTube is a chat site as well as a video-sharing site. You can message other users, and they can message you. But stay clear on this point: Any messages you send or receive are sent through YouTube.

    In other words, if someone watches one of your videos and sends you a message, he sent that message to your username. That’s anonymous. He does not have your real e-mail address. You can swap messages anonymously — using just your username — with any other Tuber, so there’s no real need for you to give your personal e-mail address to any other user.

  • Consider carefully what you write in messages, comments, or feedback. You probably aren’t planning on getting into fights with people on the Tube, but you might be surprised at how easily things can get heated.

    Some Tubers leave nasty comments, and you might be tempted to fire off a response. That’s not a violation, but don’t get so angry that you arrange a meeting place for a real-life fight. That might sound crazy, but believe it or not, it happens.

    On the flip side, you might not be planning on falling in love on the Tube either, but you just might find yourself involved in a message exchange with some charming Tuber out there. Believe it or not, this happens, too.

    And what a coincidence — he lives in your city! He’s rich, he’s a brain surgeon, he looks like George Clooney, and he wants to meet you for a drink. Should you go? That’s entirely up to you, but don’t forget that this is a total stranger, and he just might not really be that handsome devil you see in his videos.

    Whatever you do, do not message that person your personal info. If you go out on a limb and actually meet that person and sparks don’t fly, you probably won’t want him to know how to get back in touch.

  • Don’t tell anybody your password. YouTube will never ask you to reveal your password for any reason. If you get a message from YouTube asking for your password, that message is not really from YouTube. You’re being scammed by someone, somehow, some way.

  • Don’t be guilty of libel. Libel is defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words. What this means for you on YouTube is that you should be careful of making accusations or allegations about other Tubers.

    Don’t say that someone is a thief. Don’t say that someone has a disease, that he’s insane, that he’s a murderer, or that he’s cheating on his spouse. Will you get sued? It might not be likely, but it’s not impossible.

  • Don’t assume that YouTube knows who every user is. When someone registers with YouTube, all that she supplies is an e-mail address. No name. No credit card. So don’t make the mistake in thinking that YouTube has the 411 on every user or that every user can ultimately be held accountable for his or her behavior.

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