A Potential Threat to Anonymous Bloggers

Source: Google Analytics A Potential Threat to Anonymous Bloggers — Waxy.org.

Andy Baio:

Last month, an anonymous blogger popped up on WordPress and Twitter, aiming a giant flamethrower at Mac-friendly writers like John Gruber, Marco Arment and MG Siegler. As he unleashed wave after wave of spittle-flecked rage at “Apple puppets” and “Cupertino douchebags,” I was reminded again of John Gabriel’s theory about the effects of online anonymity.

Out of curiosity, I tried to see who the mystery blogger was.

He was using all the ordinary precautions for hiding his identity — hiding personal info in the domain record, using a different IP address from his other sites, and scrubbing any shared resources from his WordPress install.

Nonetheless, I found his other blog in under a minute — a thoughtful site about technology and local politics, detailing his full name, employer, photo, and family information. He worked for the local government, and if exposed, his anonymous blog could have cost him his job.

I didn’t identify him publicly, but let him quietly know that he wasn’t as anonymous as he thought he was. He stopped blogging that evening, and deleted the blog a week later.

So, how did I do it? The unlucky blogger slipped up and was ratted out by an unlikely source: Google Analytics. 

Make sure to read the whole article to understand how all this works and follow Baio’s informed advice if you have to blog anonymously.

By the way, I had the chance to read some of the entries of the anonymous blogger Andy mentions. I understand the need for anonymity of certain people who are living a situation where revealing their identity could very well cost them their lives. But to basically call people names from behind a veil of anonymity looks quite lame and cowardly to me. If I want to criticise John Gruber, Marco Arment, MG Siegler and other Mac-friendly writers, I don’t have any problems in doing so publicly. I love intelligent debate and I can defend my opinions and my name. That guy only came across as a sad troll and nothing more.

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!