Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Outing: Is it really that easy?

Lady Rayne’s recent publication of Roissy’s real-world biography invites the following question:  is it really that easy?  In my case, sure:  my posts imply sufficient personal information to allow anyone with an afternoon on his hands to figure out my true identity (Professor Hale, I’m reasonably certain, has already done this).  But I’m small-fry in the blogosphere, so I doubt that the task would be worth the bother of anyone likely to publish the information maliciously.

But despite Roissy not having put out any personal information about himself (or none that I would actually believe), Lady Rayne was able to hack him simply by . . . deciding to do it!  How is this possible?  For instance, I know my IP address, but the most I can get from it is my city and state.

How do we protect ourselves?

10 comments:

Thursday said...

Roissy gave out his real name to a newspaper in Canada, The Globe and Mail.

Φ said...

Ouch! I didn't know that.

Still, it was only his first initial and last name. And I doubt there is a shortage of Wiedmann in NYC (or is he still in DC?).

Professor Hale said...

(Professor Hale, I’m reasonably certain, has already done this...

Not me. I could if I wanted to, but (and this may come as a shock to most bloggers) I don't care that much about you (you bloggers in general). Even if you write scathing critisicms of my blogging habits or the fact that I am basically an oxygen thief at work.

And it is not as if we wouldn't instantly recognize your picture, Mr Burr. She'esh, try to make it hard next time.

trumwill said...

She got a tip from somebody. Maybe somebody who was acquainted with his secret identity outside of the web. The informant didn't know if Wiedmann was Roissy or not, but they had the same birthday (of the year, not the same year, but Roissy lied about the year on a profile on a PUA site) and the same general occupation.

Φ said...

Okay, I broke down and read Lady Rayne's post. There is less to this than meets the eye. The information on "J Wiedmann" is exactly what's available on whitepages.com and peoplefinder.com. So really, there wasn't a lot of sleuthing involved.

Ferdinand Bardamu said...

The protocol for keeping your identity secret is simple:

1) Don't give out your real name.
2) Don't antagonize unstable individuals.
2) Don't view yourself as invincible.

In other words, don't be an idiot and you'll be fine.

Professor Hale said...

I would add to the list, don't tell people in RL about your blog or how to find it. Secret identities can be cracked from either direction.

trumwill said...

My ex-boss found out about my blog because of a phrases I used in an email ("Mormon Male Syndrome"). He didn't know what I meant and googled it. There is one site that has ever used that term. Guess which one it is.

Wasn't a big deal that he found it because I had mostly nice things to say about him. That he told a couple people around the office that I did not have nice things to say about, on the other hand, complicated things greatly. Particularly since I was going back and visiting Deseret a month later.

Professor Hale said...

I have restarted my own blog under a new name, leaving very few breadcrumbs from the previous one, because too many RL people knew about it.

Anonymous said...

Didnt this happen to Bobvis too?

And I believe that the person who first exposed the typography problems with CBS's TANG forgery was also found and harassed by democrats who were sure that he was a part of a Karl Rove dirty tricks project.

If you want to keep anonymous and are doing anything that has a potential to be controversial, I'd say start by not using any google product, because I dont trust them, and anonyimize your IP through an off-shore proxy.