Anonimity and the Internet

If you’ve been blogging for any time at all, you’ve probably heard the term “dooced”. As in, Heather Armstrong, was “dooced” when her employer found some job-related dish on her blog. There’s so much to worry about with regards to online anonymity (really, there is no such thing) and the most likely to happen is your boss finding your blog. Trust me.

Back when I started my blog in 2002, I was more paranoid about some random stalker finding me through my blog than my place of employment. Then, while on leave after the birth of my first son, a coworker told me that the HEAD OF HR had pulled up my blog on the projection screen during a big meeting. Luckily, there wasn’t any content to really worry about at that time and the HR rep was simply showing off pictures of my son, but it could have been much worse. With that in mind, I quickly moved to a new web address. But, unfortunately, I didn’t change the way I published information.

My former screen name was Karaoke Diva and it was also a nickname of mine in the “real world”. Even after I moved my blog to Nominivan.com, the nickname followed me through links and comments.  A simple Google search for “Karaoke Diva” led you straight to the new site (these days, the connection is still there, but it takes a few more clicks to find me). Stupidly, it never occurred to me that my boss would do such a search and begin secretly reading my site.

She was so secretive about it, in fact, that I didn’t have a clue until I walked into her office to tender my resignation and she told me she already knew I was quitting. I’d been spouting off on my blog about my unhappiness with my job for months, detailing situations, conversations and my job hunting efforts. I’d written many unprofessional and downright cruel things about my boss, NEVER intending for her read them. Fortunately for me, the only action she took was to warn me so I didn’t end up in the same situation at my new job. She could have fired me or pursued legal action. It could have been a much uglier situation.

These days I password protect all work-related posts and I stay fairly vague in my Twittering. I’m still probably sharing too much and I could end up in an uncomfortable situation again in the future. The take home message is this: Nothing is truly anonymous on the internet. You can find pretty much anyone through a search engine. To be truly safe, you should only share things publicly that you wouldn’t mind your mother, ex-wife or boss reading. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you get found out by the last person you’d expect.

Written by: Aubrey

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5 Responses to “Anonimity and the Internet”

  1. You can find pretty much anyone through a search engine. To be truly safe, you should only share things publicly that you wouldn’t mind your mother, ex-wife or boss reading.

    Good advice for all forms of internet “sharing,” not only blogs. I’m not as open as most bloggers, and I’ve always felt I’m being a little dishonest. I don’t get a lot of traffic anyway, but you can’t be too careful.

  2. The real takeaway from all this is that there is NO anonymity on the Internet. The sooner people realize that, the better they will be.

  3. I always assume that everyone I know, and everyone I may talk about, is reading the blog. In fact, I don’t intentionally hide the blog from anyone, but don’t really publicize it much, either.

  4. I don’t actively hide my blog, but let’s just say I don’t share it with folks either. Well, I share it on the net with just about the whole world, but not at work. 🙂

    That said, I never post about work specifics. As a rule, I don’t think my blog is about my work situation, so it makes it easy. Makes the blog a little less personal maybe but the folks that need the details already have them I figure.

    I”m with everyone though. Assume anyone that can find it and be unhappy or want revenge will eventually find it. Heck, figure they’ll find it at the most inopportune moment as well.

    Remember, if you don’t want your coworkers to know about your sex life, see you naked, or that your great aunt hasn’t really died, then don’t post it on the net.

  5. I leave work at work, and especially off of my blog. They host it and my boss subscribed to it. We are a pretty tight-knit bunch at the office as it is, but there are always lines to be crossed.

    I”m pretty open about every other aspect of my life, but the jobber is out.

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