How did they find out [my identity] .....

Something strange just happened to me in the internet. These people (my online enemies) are writing bad things about me in a public guestbook- I wonder how they found out what my real name is? (They wrote out my full name) I’ve always been very careful in hiding my true identity in the internet- I don’t even use my real name in my email accounts. (I just put my initials in the account of my email- but never my full name)

Enter your registered email address here and it gives me your first name:

They might have used a similar service.

No, I used a fake name when registering all of my email addresses. I am aware of and I typed in my email addresses there to see what would come up. The results were the fake names I used when registering- not my real name.

Short of having you traced via your ISP, which normally requires some doing, unless your ISP decided (for whatever reason) to rat you out, most identifications are the result of you dropping one too many hints about your identity over time, or writing about something you were (even tangentially) publicly linked to.

If a Facebook or message board buddy quoted or mentioned some line of yours it could also happen that way. Most of the time it’s simply someone you assume to be your buddy ratting you out.

If you use the same email address/alias with all of your activities on the Internet, it’s not that difficult to create a profile about you. In time, you will provide enough personal information about yourself that determining your true identity is rather easy.

Have you searched your email addresses on google to see if anything comes up?

Do you show your city on any accounts? Have you ever used your first name? Have you ever posted anything about an event in your life that may have been published in a newspaper or something (did you win a prize? Get published? Have a kid? Get married?)? If you’re a regular member of forums, and you post about your life, it’s not that hard to piece things together over time, and it’s especially easy if you use the same email addresses for your different profiles.

Say you have the user name JaneDoe on one forum and at some point you mention that you live in Western Canada. Then in some other post you talk about going skiing at a certain resort. You mention that it’s a 1.5 hour drive from home. In another post about politics, you start talking about Alberta politics. In yet another post, you mention that you live in the city. It’s not hard to figure out you live in Calgary.

On another forum you’ve used the same user name and your profile indicates you live in Alberta. The forum is regarding vehicle maintenance and you are posting about problems you’re having with your 2002 VW Golf. Now they know what car you drive.

Using your email address, they run a search through Google and see that you’ve posted a comment in an article about street cleaning for the local newspaper. In that post, you mention what neighbourhood you live in.

Using that same search, they find another forum you belong to about genealogy. Here you are searching for a specific last name.

They then go to the City of Calgary tax records and search for your last name in your neighbourhood. Now they have your address. Using that address, they do a reverse search and find your full name and phone number.

This is all entirely hypothetical, but that’s how it’s done. I hate to admit, but I’ve done it before to others online. If you know how to do it and have lots of time, most people aren’t hard to find.

OMG! It knows what my Pandora playlists are.

Well, that is an eye opener. I searched it for myself and the pics that came up are accurate, the name is only my gmail account.

However, the names, ages, and pics of the others I searched were accurate enough.

Spooky, even if I came out rather clean. ( cold shudder ). Does anybody know how to block or screw up this kind of search??

That is rather spooky. Not cool.

This type of stuff is why I say you should still try to be nice, even online. Your anonymity may not be as great as you think. And there are unfortunately a lot of people in the eye for a life* camp.

*Like eye for an eye, only one side tries to overkill the other.

Hmm. Only thing spokeo told me was that I’m in Tulsa, OK. Which is close enough, since I’m posting from a computer in Norman, OK right now.

Funny thing is, it’s also telling me that my daughter is in Tulsa.

Online enemies? Really?

BigT has a good point.

lll333, are there many people in the real world that you would describe as “enemies”? I mean I had a few enemies in Jr High but not since … oh people who don’t think much of me or dislike me some even and visaversa I am sure. I deal with plenty of jerks and I am sure a few who think that word describes me … but enemies, people who would make a sustained effort to cause me harm? Nah.

And if certainly if you are older than 16 and not in a gang then I’d be surprised if you do either.

Yet some of us allow ourselves to get into online pissing matches that we’d never have in the real world … because of that facade of anonymity, the imagined mask that protects.

So you have discovered what the webmasters often warn you about: you are not so anonymous after all. Will you post differently in the future as a result?

My apologies if this comes off badly or as shaming, such is not my intent, but I really am curious if you plan on extending real world habits to your virtual life more as a result of this - and by this I do not mean to say that you are the cause of the conflict with these “online enemies”, only that in the real world you’d have very likely walked away from these individuals that you wold likely describe as jerks instead of engaging in an escalating conflict and that clearly you did not in his virtual relationship.

(BTW, I am surprised so little comes up on my email name but I very sure my identity is *easily *deducible to any one who wanted to find it. Few of us do not give any identifying information in our posts and a little goo-jitsu can go a long way.)

Your birthday doesn’t happen to be 01-23-1975 does it? And do you take pictures of muscular women? Goo-jitsu can right or wrong truthful or fictional, but those, and a first name and ethnicity, are facts associated with your screen name on a simple search. All any one needs to do is follow some of those leads and find one that leads to something that corroborates and follow up on that. Real information that sneaks in will often tell.

I heard a presentation from an FBI agent that did child predator stings. He explained how they found people through chats. It was downright scary.

He showed us an example of a chat with a predator. Posing as a middle-school kid, he said things like “My school mascot is a mouse. That’s so lame!” and “We were supposed to have a game here today, but it’s snowing” and “My homeroom teacher’s name is Orville. How goofy is that?”

The kid he was chatting with gave up the local weather, the mascot in his school, and the name of his homeroom teacher. A few more questions/comments, and he knew the school. Within five minutes, he had enough information to hit public sites and social networking sites and get the name of the kid and pictures. And all this was with the kid trying to be careful.

I’ve watched this kind of ‘electronic trail’ search happen on other message boards. Some new poster will come in, piss a bunch of people off, and then they go searching for that person on other boards. Pretty soon you have a bunch of quoted posts from other places.

One recent example was a post from the target’s wife where she discussed their sex life problems in great detail.

Be careful what you post.

We can find you anywhere you try to hide, Daniel.

It wasn’t surprised it came up with some myspace pictures and my city, but the fact that it listed my Pandora stations was kinda odd.

Weird. It identified me through my flickr account and kept referring to me as the handle I use there (which is unique to flickr which is how I know that’s where it came from.) I didn’t see my real name anywhere (which is even more weird since I don’t really keep it a secret).

I typed in my email address for GMail and it told me my city so I thought freaky, how does it know; then I typed in a friend’s email, and it told me my city because I made a typo. So - it defaults to the geographic location of your IP address, which is public knowledge I guess. When I corrected it, I got the city of his mail server, not him. Not all that bright. No pictures or more detail ; how did you guys get more info, it seems to want me to pay for even the guy’s blog link.

It’s not that good: It doesn’t know my first name, and it has the wrong city as my residence.