Is there some massive blogger identity theft ring that I should know about?

I’m a relatively new blogger living in a city whose average age of residents is 76. The most happenin’ place in town is the early bird happy hour at Bob Evans – their menu is popular because it consists of very soft, easy to gum foods like mashed potatoes and pureed Viagra. Not much happening here in this town, and I’ve lost some of my big city edginess and guard.

I’ll admit that I’m pretty naive to this whole blogging world. I just have some questions for you veterans, because you know, I don’t want to do anything stupid to jeopardize like the rest of my life or anything.

Why do most bloggers not show real identities or real photos? I’ve seen sites with nicknames, initials, lips, cartoon characters. It just seems silly to me to call my husband “S’ or my kids, “Thing #1 and #2.” I’m not a known felon, nor am I in any witness protection program. I haven’t been an employee for a company in over 10 years, so I’m not afraid of pissing anyone off. Is there some massive blogger identity theft ring that I should know about?

Should I put the black bar over my eyes like in the back page of fashion magazines where they show the FASHION DON’TS??! I swear I don’t wear daisy dukes with hooker heels….only with my CFM boots.

Maybe its the other way around. Maybe bloggers don’t want their friends and families snoopin’ around their blogs, because then you can’t say stuff like, “My sister is a slut who would sleep with donkey ass for attention” (just kidding. I don’t have a sister.)

Or MAYBE, just maybe having my real name and photo just makes me a prime target for sites like a certain she-male site. I just looked at my blog stats (because thats what all new bloggers do) and I got a referral from that site. But I can’t get in the site to check it out because I’m obviously not a member. I can only imagine that entire society of transgenders, cross-dressers and transvestites somehow found my blog through the world-sex-news website (another referrer who sent over 63 people to my blog the past 5 days) and are totally laughing at my photo, “haha! this is what Bob would look like if he got his brows waxed!!”

Ah, but they found me because I ate cod fish sperm sacs and frog fallopian tubes! I guess all them sex-addicts got all sophistercated ‘n stuff and have search engine spiders scanning the blogs for posts with the phrases like “sperm sac” or “donkey ass.”

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Comments 26

  1. Michael Durnack

    You are safe with blogging as long as you protect your personal information and do not get so comfortable with the conversation that you lay some cards on the table you can’t pick back up.

    In this new internet world (relatively speaking) you are exposed to people everywhere in the world there is an internet connection. That bothers some people and excites others as it can afford a stage that would not be available any other way.

    As for identity thieves, there are many other easier ways they are harvesting information due to the lack of personal self defense with information.

    There is a lot of low hanging fruit out there (besides blogs) they are easily picking.

  2. Kung Foodie Kat

    I’ve been online for more than ten years posting all kinds of various info bits in blogs, forums and chat rooms. I’m not about to post my house address but it’s EXTREMELY easy for people to find you if they want to even when you’re trying to be sneaky. so i’m not afraid to be me, or post a real photo even (yes I picked the skinny one). ;-D

    That said I do know that many HR folks do Google searches on prospective employees now. I have many friends that really don’t want coworkers and bosses to read what they’re blogging about.

  3. Passionate Eater

    You know, I am one of those people who feel the need to be overly secretive about my identity, but I don’t know why I ever started being this way. If you search my site, you can find pictures of me at my friends’ links, and you will also find my full name in the comments section. I guess I like the secrecy though, because I then have the ability to bad mouth restaurants or food I don’t like, and not have to face any ramifications.

    Also, one mildly frightening thing, is that someone started a blog (or had a blog with one post) saying, “Do you know who Passionate Eater is? Do you know anything about her? Please email me if you do!” And I thought that was just a little creepy. Just leave me comments and become my friend, don’t be a stalker!

  4. Kalyn

    Like Passionate Eater I had one creepy experience, someone started a blog with the title “My Name is Kalyn Too.” She also wrote to me. I was freaked out, but after the blog didn’t seem to be posting any more I decided it might be a young girl who had the same name as me.

    I do put my real name, but I’m very aware of what I write about. There is a plus side to putting your real name; I’ve been discovered by two friends I’d lost touch with.

  5. bruceallen

    I don’t think identity theft is as much of a worry as weirdos are. It’s amazing how many of them are out there, no matter what topic a person is blogging on, it seems there is someone out there who will make it their obsession to tear down everything you say and even try to impact your personal life.

    It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s a big reason a lot of people try to keep their online identities somewhat separate from their personal life.

    Fantastic blog, by the way.

  6. LunaPierCook

    Over on Serious Eats you were wondering why you get so many pings from the wrong kinds of sites. The name “Steamy Kitchen” is so suggestive, along with the fact that you used the other words in this particular post, that F-Secure’s Parental Controls denied me access to your blog until I added both and to the allowed access list. It’s that simple … the wrong kinds of sites scour the internet for certain words and phrases, and when they find something they like, all the wrong things can happen within minutes. And unfortunately, those connections they create can’t be gotten rid of without a lawyer spitting out “cease & desist” letters as often as possible.

    The wrong kinds of people can and often will stalk people online. Geezers who use online techniques to get teenage girls to meet them constantly have me afraid for my own daughter’s safety, along with the safety of other people I’ve become acquainted with online.

    BTW, for the record, my own About page is at … as we’re attached to the local newspaper, anonymous blogging isn’t allowed for us. My pic has been online for years in vrious places and I’ve not yet had a problem that’s become serious.

  7. simcooks

    Better safe than sorry ya? If you put too much personal information online, it’s very easy to google search and get more info about you.

  8. NYGirlEatsWorld

    Loved this post, J. I’m with you — I’ve often wondered about the mysterious photos. I always thought I was being vain in some way by putting up a picture of my whole head! (gasp!) I’m glad I’m not the only freak, er, intelligent person wondering about these things. πŸ˜‰

  9. Danielle

    I’ve put a lot of thought into this, particularly when considering whether or not it would be wise to announce on my food blog that I was starting my solo law practice.

    Sure, there is some risk with associating your real name with your blog. Food blogging is a casual atmosphere, and it’s easy to forget that anything we write will be available online in perpetuity. Especially if you like telling funny, personal stories. (I sure do, sometimes.)

    But there’s also a lot to be gained. It’s an incredible way to network and meet people. For me, I figured it would be a huge waste of potential referrals not to tell everyone that I was starting my law firm. That was worth the risk.

    I’ve also connected with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’ve met readers of my blog who happen to live in my neighborhood (and did not turn out to be creepy). My partner was emailed by an old acquaintance of his who found him again through my blog. I love the way those connections can surface and revive over the years.

  10. Flora Fauna Fortuna

    I am very new to blogging, and I have heard too many horror stories to post anything personal enough that it could be misinterpreted or used negatively against me. My blog is about my hobby and I need to keep it separate from my career. I do admire those of you willing to put your presence online, but I feel it is a risk that some of us can’t take. It is true that it would be very easy for someone to find out my actual identity, but I don’t feel comfortable about making it to obvious. I even worry about the fact that my gender is known by the info on my blog! I love your site and many of your repliers and admire the ones that feel comfortable making themselves open to the online world. I also sympathize with the ones that feel the need to remain hidden. It is a shame that the ease at which information is available on the internet makes some of us more wary.

  11. Melinda

    Jaden, I’m with you about the funny photo’s and suggestive secretive names. I am fairly new at blogging too and may be rather naive. But I understand and accept the right to remain secretive.
    I have been lucky in that I have had wonderful contact with fellow foodie bloggers. It has been an unexpected pleasure to share witty comments and see what other people cook and do.
    I tried to comment on a post you did ealier but a our power lines came down right in the middle of it! Took 9 hours to repair them.
    I love the orange pork dish and am going to try that. Sounds lovely, and thanks for sharing your recipe.
    You did another thing earlier about a levening agent you couldn’t find and were not sure of the name. Could it be Ammonia Carbonate, alias Harts Horn, Harts Horn Salts and also called Baker’s Ammonia?
    It is a very old levening agent and has a long shelf life. It is also used a lot in Scandinavian cookies. You mustn’t eat the batter before cooking. The levening action is only activated when heated ie. baked…unlike bicarb and baking powder that start on contact with other ingredients. (In Springerle, it is recommended to air dry them for 24 hrs, so you can see why Harts Horn is an advantageous levening agent. It also is suppose to give a ‘snap’ to the cookie.)
    The kitchen will smell of ammonia while the cookies or what ever are cooking. But the ammonia will disappear when finished baking and no residual taste is left behind of the ammonia.
    I am suddenly aware I sound like know it all…I most cetainly do not know it all!
    I wanted to make my own Christmas Springerle and had never heard of this funny Harts Horn before so had to research it to find out more.
    You can mailorder it from
    Jaden, your blog is lovely so I hope you don’t change a thing! I found you via passioneater’s wonderful blog. I hope to become a regular reader of the Steamy Kitchen.

  12. tigerfish

    Nickname and a pink cartoon icon! Hahaha, that’s Tigerfish in my blog! Woohoo….:D

    I’m one of those who live by Andy Grove’s “Only the paranoid survive”. Plus, been in the “intelligence” arena for sometime (NOT FBI or CIA ok???)…and I know how people can search and dig out information about other people from the web. Not that it’s something bad, just that I find it creepy. I read in some other blogs about similar subject before and know that people who use non-iconic pictures (but real pictures) to represent themselves in their blog may not be even using their own “self-portraits”!!! Well, it’s the WORLD WIDE web we are in, and there are all kinds of homosapiens around – matured to naive, those with integrity or some unethical.

    On the other hand, putting a real photo and a name will really give a better personal identity to your site/blog. Yours is lovely! And I like to see the -Jaden’s smile- whenever I visit your blog. πŸ˜€

    P.S Actually, some of my readers do know my real name (by emailing one another). But I requested to keep my real identity private (as far as I could) in the blogs. Hahahaha….
    Let me find your email….so that you know you are are not talking to a- tiger-and-a-fish genetically modified hybrid. I’m a real person! *lol*

  13. Jason Truesdell

    Some of the server-logged “referrals” are fake requests, because all you have to do to convince a web server that you came from a particular site is add something like “referer:” to a web request. Not all such requests come from real web browsers.

    I used to put a rotated photo of me prominently on my site; I don’t do that anymore mostly because I was too lazy to re-add the feature when I did a server upgrade. But it was kind of funny when I was walking around my neighborhood on the weekend one time and someone said “Hey! are you Jason? That blogger? and this must be Hiromi?” We didn’t know we had fans.

    I use my real name on my blog because I don’t usually write anything terribly embarrassing there and I’d rather something I write be the first thing someone finds when Googling my name. If I were more controversial, I might elect for a search engine-anonymous approach, though.

  14. Harry L

    I am one of those people that blog under a pseudonym. I have only been blogging for a few months, but I know of a couple of “situations” on newsgroups in which discussions spiraled out of control and led to attacks on a person’s personal life. I don’t think it’s really a major worry for most people.
    In my case, by blogging is completely unrelated to my “real” life, so I like the idea of keeping them separate. Obviously, that may not apply to many bloggers.

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  16. cindy

    the comments for this post were very educational, jaden! i think if i got trannies and stuff commenting on my blog, it would make life interesting! lol! but, i have a fake name on mine, (cinderelly) because i ‘discovered’ blogging on another site where that was my ‘name’, and i figured it should stay the same. and my picture is not the real ’cause, well, rita hayworth looks better than i do! ;]

  17. Inne

    Hi Jaden, like you I am fairly new to blogging. After checking dozens of other blogs to see what they did, I decided to use my first name, but if I mention friends and family I only use initials. After all, it’s not up to me to ‘out’ them on my little blog. I also put a picture up of myself, but in such a way that people who don’t know me won’t recognise me in the street (that’s what I hope at least). Friends and family who read my blog will know exactly whom I talk about, but random readers won’t. And that seems to work just fine. Luckily, I’ve been spared creepy things so far and I have ‘met’ (virtually, that is) some wonderful food bloggers.

  18. WokkingMum

    Hmm… nickname and cartoon. That’s me isnt it? Hey but the cartoon do look like me but much prettier :p My real name and photo can be found in my other blog though.

    Maybe when one day I can cook as good as you I might just change the blog header to show my name and photo. πŸ˜‰ For the time being, the nick and cartoon stays.

    ps. Nice having you visit my blog.

  19. SteamyKitchen

    Inne-thats a good idea to use initials to refer to friends. I think I’ll just assign numbers to each of my friends!

    Cindy-hey I love your blog!

  20. Lee Ping Chong

    Dear Jaden,

    After reading blogs by Mommies, I was inspired to start one myself, with my real name and face. My philosophy is to spread more good stuff on the internet. Keep up all your good work. Next to Auntie Lily, you are becoming my idol. πŸ™‚

    p/s I am still hesitant to use my kids’ real names because it is not a safe world.

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