In the past twelve hours, I’ve read posts by at least two bloggers (Amrita and Broom) who have expressed their anger at people who take pleasure in “outing” the anonymous bloggers. I can perfectly understand their emotions and what they are going through. Many of us write blogs to express personal emotions. The least we can expect from our readers is to keep shut even if they realize who we might be. I don’t understand why some people have such an itch.
I remember changing my nickname quite often between Ruhi and my real name. I was not too sure if it makes sense to use my real name, the reason being that sometimes, I do write crazy stuff in my blog and I don’t want a potential employer tripping on it by any chance. It’s not that we are not to be blamed. If we want to remain completely anonymous, then we need to retain some pieces of information and never mention them on our blogs. This might include things like your birthdate, your current residence, your phone number, address etc.
There are some tools that can be used to remain as anonymous as possible:
1. Run a Google Search for your real name and see what the results are. You might be surprised to see that even though you might have taken a page down, Google still stores it in its cache for a considerable period of time. Anyone who’s smart can simply click on “Cache pages” and retrieve a Saved Screenshot of your page.
2. If most of the searches are professional and don’t reveal stupid things about you, then you’re fine.
3. Run a Google Search for your nickname and see if it connects you to your real self by any means. If it does and there are stuff that you don’t want anyone to see, then you may want to do something. You can delete some information from your previous posts. It might take time for Google’s cache to clean up (like I mentioned before). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This is what I don’t like about Google. I’m scared of sharing so much information with this organization. My business is not their business. Of course, they want all this information so that they can better target their advertisements, from where they generate 98% of their revenue. Anyway, I’ll leave my tech rant out of this post.
Many of us have Sitemeter or something similar installed that collects the location, browser and Operating System specification and certain other data from your computer. Apart from this, the comment system itself stores YOUR IP Address! Giving someone your IP address can be quite risky, if you know what I mean. Most of them wouldn’t do anything with it, but there are some smart people out there who can use it for anything.
If you visit ip2location.com and punch in your IP address, it clearly shows your location. So, even though you might have been very cautious on your blog regarding this piece of information, guess what? One visit to your friend’s blog can let him/her know your location.
You can use proxy servers such as http://the-cloak.com to browse your friend’s blogs. Your speed will reduce a bit, pleas be warned.
You can also go to websites such as http://publicproxyservers.com/ that will give you proxy IP addresses that can be used instead of your real IP address to surf the internet. You need to change your Network Setting in Mozilla Firefox (Tools-> Options->Advanced->Network Settings) from “automatic” to “Manual” and put in the proxy server information from the list. You might take some time to find a server that actually works at a decent speed.
If this is too much of trouble, then you can download a software such a Tor or Jap. You need to closely follow the instructions, which vary according to the type of browser that you’re using.
If you need to visit only a certain blog, then I think the-cloak.com should be enough.
Many of you who work in offices might want to use a proxy server if you have strict internet usage policies. Also, as an added precaution, you can “Edit the Timestamp” so that the post gets published a couple of minutes in the future. This way, the internet police of your company might find it difficult to associate your particular blog with the IP address. You might especially want to do this in case you are abusing your company 😛 Also, you might want to take a look at this page and listen to this person’s advice. Please be safe. You never know who’s watching you.
Even I have come across instances where I know that people look into Sitemeter and other applications to see where you live. People are very curious by nature. There is this other friend of mine who pestered me a number of times to reveal the URL of my private blog. I ended up making that blog private, scared that he or someone else might come across it. There are some parts of us which we don’t want to reveal and I strongly feel that others should respect that. It’s up to you to draw the boundaries and stay safe.