Your privacy is important and you could be compromising it with your podcast! Here are eight ways to protect your personal and professional privacy while podcasting.
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Why is privacy important?
There are a lot of horrible people in the world who could harm you or your family. Such harm could be physical, emotional, financial, or other intangible forms.
You should be even more concerned about your privacy if you have shared any kind of controversial opinions (especially conservative ones).
Besides worrying about the creeps of the world, you may also need to protect your privacy because of your job, contractual obligations, or anything else. It may not be an issue of what's allowed, but more about what honors the spirit of relationships, positions, agreements, and associations.
For example, Apple is extremely protective about what messages are communicated from the company. Employees may be prohibited from publicizing their employment with Apple. They may also be prohibited from engaging in certain conversations because they could be seen as endorsements from an Apple representative. Other companies may have similar—and reasonable—policies.
While protecting your privacy may seem to limit freedoms, it can also give freedoms you wouldn't otherwise have.
For whatever reasons you hold, here are eight ways to protect your privacy while podcasting.
1. Consider a pseudonym or partial name
Creating a fictitious name or not using your full name will make it harder for others to compromise your privacy. This is not necessarily the best option, but it may be the most effective with the least effort.
This will most likely not work if you have already put your name out in the public. But if you're starting out, it's something you can consider.
Listen to my previous episode, “Should you podcast under your real name, or a pseudonym?” for more thoughts on whether this is the right choice for you.
2. Beware the “whole story” you're telling
You may not be giving away your home address in a single episode, but you have to think about every clue you reveal.
For example, you may reveal all of the following facts across different episodes, blog posts, and social-network posts:
- Where you shop and what's nearby
- How far you drive to work
- What your company does
- Something unique about your home area
- A photo of your house
- The name of someone else who might not be as protective of their privacy
- When and where you attend a regular meeting, such as a church service
With a combination of information like this, it would be fairly easy to figure out where you live, what valuables you might have, and when you'll be gone.
Scary, right? You should be scared! This kind of stuff may sound like something from a spy movie or show, but it can be a reality. You need to be very careful, especially with how impossible it is to completely remove something from the Internet.
3. Adjust privacy settings on social networks
Facebook is notorious for frequently changing privacy settings. You should be aware of such changes and adjust your settings for any social network or account you make.
For example, some sites may make public:
- Your birthday
- Your home city
- Your location in a photo or post
Beyond what information you share on such sites, you may also need to customize who can see that information. Facebook, for example, lets you group friends into different lists. You can then customize which lists can see what information in your account, or exclude certain lists from seeing things.
4. Read privacy policies
You usually don't have the option to use services without agreeing to their policies, but reading their policies can inform you on what you may need to do to further protect your privacy.
5. Rent a mailing address
If you need to enter a physical address anywhere other than with trusted online retailer, I think you should consider having another address.
- WHOIS information on domains shows a name, address, telephone number, and email address
- Some annoying sites ask for a physical address when they really don't need it
- You may want to give your audience the ability to send you things
- Your address may used to populate a user map or display your city (this is a bigger concern if your physical addresses is in a smaller town)
For these uses and others, I highly recommend that you have another address you're okay with sharing. This could be any of the following:
- PO Box
- Local shipping/mailbox company
- Earth Class Mail or other online mail service
6. Invest in privacy protection and ID-theft insurance
Speaking of addresses, have you ever looked at what information is freely available when someone does a WHOIS search on a domain you own? Try it yourself!
Many hosting companies and domain registrars offer privacy-protection services for the WHOIS database. Instead of displaying your home address, the company might display their own contact information and forward stuff to you. This is typically a few dollars per year per domain. Thus, it may cost more or less than renting a mailing address, depending on how many domains you own.
Since you're putting your life online (even a small aspect of it), you may want to also invest in ID-theft protection. This might come through your home insurance, business insurance, or a separate insurance provider.
ID-theft insurance may not protect you from identity-theft, but it could alert you to concerns, cover expenses when you face a problem, and even replace your income if you must take time off work in order to resolve problems.
7. Use separate email accounts or addresses
You may not be able to see what email address is associated with someone else's online account, but many tools can search for online accounts based on an email address.
For example, tools like Rapportive can show someone your name, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other information based on your email address. Using multiple addresses prevents the reverse-searches.
If you use Gmail or Google Apps, an easy trick is at “+SOMETHING” to your email address. This will function as an additional email address without having to create additional accounts. For example, you could have john+twitter@gmail, john+facebook@gmail, and such. However, some sites won't accept a plus sign in your email address.
Whatever address you use must be highly secure. If someone could get access to your email account, they could take over any other account tied to that email.
If you use email forwarders, make sure access to those settings (usually on your domain registrar or web host) is also extremely protected.
8. Implement security measures
Online security is another issue all to itself, but poor security can compromise your privacy.
In short, here are some things you should be using in order to keep your private information secure:
- Separate, unique, secure passwords for everything—A good password should be long and contain numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and no words.
- Password manager—LastPass and 1Password are the best and most popular managers. These can generate secure passwords for you, encrypt and store them in the cloud, and allow you to access them across different devices.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA)—This is when signing into something requires an additional step, such as entering a code from an app, SMS, or email.
- Secure storage for sensitive information—Don't save your passwords in a “passwords.txt” on your desktop! Ensure whatever sensitive information you have is stored securely and encrypted.
These eight things will help you protect your privacy while podcasting, and even while doing almost anything online.
How else do you protect your own privacy? Comment below!
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One thing that I do to protect myself when setting up accounts, is to never use true information for the security questions… For example, if one of my security questions for the account is “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “Name of your first school?” my answer might be something like “Applesauce.” The information doesn’t have to be true, just something to which you can provide the correct answer. With things like classmates.com, ancestry.com or a Google search, it’s very easy to find the real answers to these questions.
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