I have been a part of the blogging world for over three years now and in that time it has changed a lot. For the first couple of years I lived in my own little bubble but over the last year I have been more aware of the potential negative side to blogging. You might have guessed from the title I’m talking about online identity theft. This can be having a photograph or article taken from your blog down to having someone impersonate you.
In fact, I recently read that fellow blogger Em from Em Talks had her identity stolen. The person who stole her identity contacted companies pretending to be Em and asking to work with the companies to review products. The first Em knew about it was when companies contacted her to say the review products were on their way. It really is scary the lengths people will go to.
A close blogging friend of mine had articles and photographs of her children taken from her blog and used on another website without permission. The website had taken articles and photographs from a lot of different blogs and was using them to generate traffic to earn money through advertising. Thankfully after a stern e-mail the articles and photographs were removed from the website.
We are all aware of the threat of identity theft in the real world, we shred important documents, check websites for a secure connection before using our bank cards and keep our pin numbers safe but we don’t seem to give as much thought to the possibility of online identity theft? I didn’t until I read a recent study conducted by My Voucher Codes. The study revealed that a staggering 23% of social media users have had their images used by someone else without their permission. I was pretty shocked by that statistic and it made me realise the issue is a lot more widespread than I though. You can read the study here.
Protecting yourself online as a blogger might seem like a minefield but there are a few steps you can take to protecting yourself.
Do your research. If someone contacts you out of the blue claiming to be a PR and asking for your address details to send you something check that they work for the company they claim before sending your details.
Place a copyright mark on your photographs. This can be your name, blog name or blog url as long as it is an identifying mark. Remember to put the copyright somewhere that it can’t be cropped out of the photograph.
If you have a domain name for your blog your address details might be available on the Whois register if you haven’t opted out. You can check if your details are public or private by entering your blog url here. If your details are public you can opt to have your address details set to private so they don’t appear on the register, this is usually done through the company you bought your domain with.
Have you been affected by online identity theft or do you have any tips to help protect yourself?