Is Online Anonymity Possible In the New Digital Age?
In the early days of the World Wide Web, users often went to great lengths protecting privacy in order to remain anonymous. In the past decade, however, Internet usage has exploded and many people utilize the Web as their main method of research when they wish to learn about another person.
Potential employers, family, friends, network contacts, and clients all regularly use the Internet to discover more about the people they interact with, and what they discover may determine whether or not they wish to pursue a future association. Although you understandably may wish to protect your electronic privacy, is true Internet anonymity even a possibility? And if it is, do you really want to remain completely anonymous when so many people use the Web as a research tool? This article explores the concept of online anonymity.
In the current technological age with a wealth of information at your fingertips, online privacy protection is more important than ever.
Protecting your privacy versus total anonymity
Anonymity is not a new concept. For centuries, people have discovered ways of protecting their privacy in order to remain anonymous. For example, writers historically have used pen names in order to create some semblance of anonymity. Other more recent methods of protecting anonymity include maintaining an unlisted phone number and utilizing IP address masking techniques online. In the current technological age with a wealth of information at your fingertips, online privacy protection is more important than ever. There is a difference, however, between safeguarding your electronic privacy and maintaining total anonymity.
When you utilize electronic privacy techniques, you safeguard sensitive information in order to protect your identity. With nearly 11 million cases of identity theft annually in the United States alone, privacy protection is essential to maintaining financial health. Check out this article from the ReputationDefender Resource Center outlining steps you can take to avoid identity theft.
Total anonymity, however, is not the same thing as privacy protection. In order to maintain complete anonymity online, you need to make sure that there isn’t a trace of you on the Internet. Many people mistakenly believe that by using pseudonyms and user names when they post something on the Internet, they protect themselves and their identity. If they were the only people posting online, then using this technique would be extremely effective. Given that nearly 2 billion people use the Web and that world Internet usage has grown by nearly 450 percent in the past ten years, however, chances are that somewhere, someone has posted something about you. So, this influences whether online anonymity possible.
Ask yourself, not only is online anonymity possible, ask–Is anonymity beneficial?
Even if you could remain anonymous on the Internet, would you want to? Consider the number of people in your life you’ve interacted with who might have decided to google you. If you’ve recently applied for a job, met with potential customers or clients, made new social contacts, joined a group or network, or participated in any other activities, than chances are that someone has recently conducted an Internet search to learn more about you.
When you’ve considered who might be seeking information about you online, ask yourself this. Who is in control of the information they find? If your goal until now has been total Internet anonymity, then you are not the one controlling the information that others discover. If you aren’t posting information about yourself, then you have no control over your online reputation.
Control your Internet reputation
When someone searches for you on the Internet, they will likely find one of four things: positive information, negative information, neutral information, or no information. In terms of online reputation management, positive and neutral information are good things. Negative content will definitely raise a red flag, but what about having no Web presence? Because it is so easy to leave an online footprint, when you aren’t discoverable by a quick Google search, there’s a good chance that your absence from the Internet will appear suspect to the searcher, as if you are trying too hard to remain anonymous because you just might have something to hide.
Online reputation management can help you to assure that when someone seeks information about you, they discover the information that you’d like them to find rather than discovering what others are saying about you or no information at all. When you control your reputation, you provide strategic data that can help others gain a positive concept of who you are.
Create an online presence to protect your privacy
Strategically creating a basic online presence that protects your privacy is a relatively easy process. Here are some simple steps to establishing a positive online presence.
- Use your real name and interact positively in blog comments, forums, and social networking websites.
- Create networking profiles on websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and ZoomInfo where you highlight the positive aspects of your life and career you’d like known.
- Start a free blog on a website such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com where you regularly provide fresh, positive content about yourself, your business, areas of interest, or skills.
- For more information, read this ReputationDefender Resource Center article about common mistakes you can make when protecting your online reputation.
- Consider seeking online reputation management assistance using a product such as ReputationDefender’s ReputationDefender®.