These days it seems like it’s becoming ever more difficult to stay truly anonymous when online. In some ways this is a good thing: it gives web users accountability which encourages civility and prevents arguments and fights. While that’s the case though in some ways though, it can also have the drawback of meaning that anyone can find you online and that anyone can see what you’ve been up to. This can sometimes be embarrassing – when your friends find out you’re a member of the ‘My Little Pony’ message board. But more worryingly it can impact on your chances of getting a job or on your chances of getting a date. Then there are the serious security issues that can arise – the potential for data theft or identify theft, and the tools it gives potential stalkers and others.
In short, some people will decide that full disclosure online is not for them. So what do you do?
One of the biggest issues when using accounts online is social media. Social media sites like Facebook will actively encourage us to use our real names, to disclose personal information and to connect to others.
The easiest way to make a big difference here is to refrain from having a social media account – or to at least use a fake name. Even then though, if someone should find a friend of yours online they may well still be able to find you in pictures and thereby see the things you’ve been up to lately. This is why it’s also important that you and everyone you know should use the right privacy settings and thereby avoid strangers from viewing pictures.
Coming up with a consistent pseudonym to use across social media can be a useful trick, but then you do limit the ability others will have of finding you.
If your name has been used on any website or mentioned in any way, then there’s a good chance that Google will know about it and will want to share that information with others. This means that if you were to create a blog for instance then people would again be able to find it.
This is why you should once again make sure that you are using a pseudonym. You can also set pages on a website not to be crawled which can prevent Google from finding them, or you can contact Google in order to ask them to remove links. Likewise you could also password protect your pages so that people can’t see them without your permission.
For shopping you will sometimes need to give your name and address in order to make payments and have your goods delivered. Don’t worry about this: most stores will promise not to share your information or publish it – just make sure that you look for this promise somewhere before you go ahead and click buy. Using PayPal can also help as it means you don’t need to give your details to every tore and can instead go through an intermediary.
Finally you should also make sure to be generally cautious. If you don’t like cookies then browse in a ‘private mode’ which should be available through your browser. Avoiding giving personal details when you’re on public networks (such as in coffee shops) as that makes it easier for others to listen in. Install the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software and then make sure to keep it constantly up-to-date.
If you have any particularly sensitive information then you can even consider keeping a secondary computer that isn’t connected to the web at all. Finally, don’t forget your paper trail. All this will be for nothing if you then throw away a piece of paper with all your details on, so look into <a href=”http://www.papersavers.ca”>shredding services</a> you can use to prevent this.