YOU’RE A CONTENT CREATOR.
You work hard and you meme hard, and trying to get noticed amidst all your peers isn’t easy. Becoming a massive creator, popular on all platforms complete with a large audience is almost every content creator’s dream. But how do you keep your personal life and privacy safe when you’re opening up your life to the internet and so many people? This article is here to help you understand the dangers of having an online persona, what to watch out for, stresses you may encounter, basic tips to keep you safe, what to do if your privacy has been compromised, and advanced safety measures.
ISSUES WITH HAVING AN ONLINE PERSONA: DOXXING, SWATTING, & CYBER STALKING
DOXXing: a form of cyber attack and harassment where someone publicly reveals previously private personal information about an individual or organization online. This could include a person’s legal name that they have kept hidden, their home address, or where they work. Unfortunately, DOXXing is not currently a Federal Crime, and is only punishable if the information was not public knowledge and was obtained illegally.
Swatting: a criminal form of harassment that involves a person or group of persons alerting law enforcement of false emergency situations (such as lying about a hostage situation or a bomb) and sending them to an innocent person’s home. This often goes hand in hand with DOXXing. Swatting is a Federal Crime. Swatting can also be deadly. Law enforcement can and have come in to a person’s home using deadly force.
Cyber Stalking: when creating content online, you want people to follow you, but not stalk you. This is when an individual manages to gather enough personal information to monitor you, contact you, or even attempt to impersonate you. Cyber Stalking is a Federal Crime.
BASIC WAYS TO STAY SAFE ONLINE
Don’t share your legal name online. Many content creators have handles that aren’t their real names. If this is you, keep that legal name secret! Make sure real life friends or family know not to share it publicly when interacting with you online. If you do use your real name, then the other steps are even more important to implement. Also be careful posting photos that may have your name somewhere in them.
Speaking of photos, don’t post photos of places you are moving to or inside your home/street – people can use these photos to discover where you live. Never show street signs, major landmarks, or noticeably unique features around where you live to keep it private. This goes for friends, family, and roommates! If your viewers know about them, they can find you through their posts as well.
Keeping your location as general as possible is a really good idea. You may even want to rent a PO box a bit inconveniently far from your actual home to help keep things safe.
Disable Location Services on all your social media platforms which can track you even when you’re not using the app. Turning off geotagging will also help to remove location information from the metadata on your photos.
Don’t forget to protect your devices by always:
- Logging out or locking your screens
- Keeping your antivirus software up to date
- Using hard to guess passcodes
- Creating complex and hard to guess passwords that you change frequently
- Enabling two factor authentication
Use a VPN – Virtual Private Network – which will hide your IP Address and encrypt data.
DOXXED OR SWATTED? DO THIS:
One way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of Swatting is to preemptively alert your local law enforcement that you are an online personality, and therefore potentially at risk for being targeted. If they have this information and then someone calls in to “report” you, law enforcement will likely respond but also be aware that the call is a potential hoax.
If you do find yourself a victim of Swatting unfortunately the best advice is to stay calm, cooperate with law enforcement, and report the incident.
ADVANCED SAFETY MEASURES
Clear your data stored by data brokers from using websites. Free ways to do this include filling out forms from places like Intelius, PeekYou, InstantCheckmate and Spokeo that allow you to opt out of data sharing. For less time but more money, you can use a data scrubbing service such as DeleteMe or PrivacyDuck, but even these may not remove 100% of your data.
One service that caters specifically to streamers is Removaly. It routinely searches the internet for your private information and scrubs it clean whenever it’s discovered and has individual, couples, and family plans.