Why I Hide My Identity On The Internet and You Should Too

by WebWriter

Some people have good reasons to hide their identity on the Internet. Here is my reason.

Hiding On The Internet

Today, I read another comment (not on Wizzley) that said, "It should be a requirement to post a REAL photo on the profile page." That comment, which I've heard/read so many times before, was the inspiration for this article.

I read one too many comments about how people should write more about themselves. How people should add more information to their profiles and post a photo in their profiles and on their blogs, articles, pages, lenses...whatever. Many people seem to think that if a person doesn't post information about themselves, or a photo in their profile, that they are hiding. And you know what? They are hiding.... but not for the reasons you may think. Some people have very valid reasons for hiding behind the computer, for not posting their photos and personal information on the Internet. 

Here are my questions to you....

  • If you had been stalked, on the Internet or in person, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you had a restraining order against someone, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you have been a target because of political antics in a forum or social network, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you knew that some pervert out there was downloading the photos of your children that you posted on your articles and blogs, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you had been stalked or harrassed by an ex, or just didn't want your ex knowing what you are doing, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you didn't want your boss and colleagues following your every move on the Internet, or knowing what you are writing about and commenting on, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you knew that someone was copying all the photos of you that you posted on the Internet and then posted them in other places posing as you, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  •  If you knew that people were using the photos and/or personal information from your profile to start a fake Facebook page, or used as their own profile on an adult web site, wouldn't you hide your internet identity too?
  • If you have been harassed by people jealous of your success, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  •  If you knew someone was copying the photos you post of yourself on the Internet, photo shopping them and then posting your photos on an x-rate web site, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  •  If you gave a child up for adoption and didn't want to be found, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?
  • If you had been a victim of a serious crime, or in the witness protection program, or in fear that the person you testified against would find you and come after you, wouldn't you hide your Internet identity too?

Now, there are 2 reasons why I don't post my photos or too much personal information about myself on the Internet, and why I use a couple different aliases. The first reason is because I have had some of the things I listed above happen to me. The other reason is because I want to prevent/avoid crazy things, like I listed above, from happening to me.

Keep in mind that there are ...

  • Stalkers.
  • Identity thieves.
  • People that will verbally attack you because you wrote something they didn't like or agree with. 
  • People who will try to ruin your Internet reputation/brand because they didn't like the article you wrote, the comment you left, the color of your skin, or your success.  
  • Bosses that do check up on their employees and watch their every move on the Internet.
  • Potential employers that will research your name on the Internet and find your blogs, comments you left, and profiles you have.
  • Ex spouses serching the Internet.
  • Criminals serching the Internet looking for another victim.

I cringe every time I read comments in a forum, on a networking site or in a comment box that says, "Profile pictures should be a requirement." or "It should be requirement to have a competed profile". The members of one social networking site that I belong to were pushing for it to be required for all members to have a real photo of themselves instead of a picture of an avatar or photo of their choosing. Are you kidding me! I don't want my photo posted, my child's photo posted, the city I live in, my age, my e-mail address or all the businesses I have and social networking sites I belong to posted. Some people have every part of their profiles filled out and share a lot of personal information and photos. That's ok, it's their choice. However, I should not be made to feel bad if I don't. I should not be denied a membership if I choose not to.... and I should always have the option of how much I want to reveal. Do you agree?

Well, I hope this article gives you something to think about, some food for thought so to speak. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, I just wanted to give you something to think about that you might not have otherwise thought of. Yes, people do hide behind the computer, but many of them have valid reason. Please be sensitive to that if you aren't already. 



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Join me on Wizzley (where it's not a requirement ot post your real photo)

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Updated: 06/15/2011, WebWriter
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Alex on 04/24/2012

We are more in need to hide our identity when accessing websites using wifi or downloading torrents. I try to use soem additional services like SSH encrypted tunneling as described at pirateray.com/promo/torrents/

traveller27 on 09/01/2011

Very good article. You bring up some excellent points.

barbarab on 08/30/2011

very mind opening article!
I havent had any bad things happen (that I know about) and I, too, prefer a photo but thats just me
your article certainly made me think and I have to tell you hubby was was upset with me when I changed from an avatar to my pic...course that may be cause he is featured prominently :) handsome thing that he is!!

Mitch on 08/07/2011

Nice post, I dont like the idea of my identity being stolen.

kajohu on 06/29/2011

I've felt uncomfortable giving out personal data online too, although I haven't had any of the problems (yet) that you've mentioned above. It's been fairly recent that I started using a photo instead of an avatar for Squidoo and Wizzley and I may go back to an avatar.

PJDeneen on 06/21/2011

This is great advice. When I first started writing online, the site I wrote for (BellaOnline) required me to use my real name and picture. It was a great site to gain experience, but I regret that I didn't have the choice of keeping my identity more secret.

sheilamarie on 06/17/2011

Chilling -- some of your examples really make one think. I do prefer to see a real picture of someone, but I have felt hesitant, too. Especially on places like Facebook, some people reveal way too much info that can and have been used against them. I have seen postings from kids who say things online that they would blush to say in front of their parents, even though those same parents are reading the posts! But the real problem is not what the parents see, of course, but how others who don't have the person's best interest in mind use the info. It could make a person run in the opposite direction screaming!

tandemonimom on 06/15/2011

I find myself in the middle on this, perhaps because none of the bad things have ever happened to me. But though I am somewhat transparent it is only partially, and I deliberately hide things like my state, my last name, my kids' names, where my husband works. My photo is really me, though!

KathyMcGraw on 06/14/2011

Anytime we are online we are taking a risk in one way or another. I have heard all these reasons before, but on the flip side, you have some of those same people that did the bad deed with fake avatars befriending people, or using the annominity to do as they please, and not always good things. So, as with everything there is a flip side to it. Me, I prefer to deal with people I have seen around on different sites, with real pictures, and real names. My preferance of course :)

Jimmie on 06/11/2011

Although I certainly respect your decision, I have chosen to be more open. However you do raise important security concerns anyone with an online presence shoul consider.

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