I think privacy and online safety matter, including for you. Here’s some information that may help you, both related to my site and related to making good choices online.
Especially if you’re young and/or openly neurodivergent online, please read this carefully. I’d like to talk about
- Your privacy when you leave a comment on this website here (please read if you comment)
- Staying safe online in general (please read in general)
- How I stay safe online
Your Privacy on my WordPress Blog (That’s Here)
My blog uses WordPress. It’s the free version, so I don’t have anything fancy. I do get some basic analytics like “which countries your visitors come from” and “here’s how many visitors came from a Google search today,” but that’s pretty standard stuff.
I’m here to tell you the things you might not know.
WordPress lets me see commenters’ IP addresses (if I want to, which I don’t)
You should know that WordPress stores your IP address when you comment. That means that if I look in a certain place and click a few things, I can see your approximate location at the time of your comment. In some cases, this can be traced as specifically as an apartment building.
Does that creep you out? Me too!
I think they do this for spam reduction. Still, it’s okay if this makes you uncomfortable, either on this site or on the many other WordPress sites you may visit.
If you want to disguise your IP address, you can get a VPN. This means that neither I nor less trustworthy people would know where you are. Sadly, those do cost money, but you might consider the extra safety to be worth it.
And if you feel worried about any comments you made here, you can ask me to delete or edit the comments. (See below.)
WordPress lets me edit comments.
I don’t do this on a regular basis because that would be weird, but I can do it for people who ask. I’m telling you this so you know I can change your past comments for you.
- Maybe you revealed a personal detail and now regret it.
- Or you said something bad or awkward that you want removed.
- Or it just makes you cringe and you’d be happier if my readers didn’t see it.
I can’t control if other people take screenshots or use the Wayback Machine, but I can change things on the site going forward.
Please don’t feel guilty about reaching out to me about this. I get it, I’ve said stuff I regret in the past too, and I’m happy to take like 5 minutes to fix or remove something once you’ve told me where it is.
I have done this type of thing before and I’m happy to do it again to give you peace of mind.
Your Privacy in General
I think most people don’t take online privacy seriously enough. I didn’t before, and while nothing bad has happened so far, I still regret not being more careful.
If you talk about your disability/LGBTQ+ identity/mental health/whatever under your real name, it could be seen by
- Future classmates and coworkers
- College admissions officers
- HR workers at jobs you apply to
It would be awesome if bullying and discrimination didn’t exist, but they still do, and that’s the world we have to live in.
Luna’s recommendation: Don’t use your real name until, at minimum, you are an established adult who has a good, stable job. You should feel that if something happened to your job, you could find a new one.
It’s not just your name that can identify you. It’s also stuff like
- Face/location photos
- The first names of your family members
- The region you live in
- Favorite sports teams
For more advice on this, you can read my article on disguising your identity for personal safety.
Also, if you were foolish in the past, it might not be entirely too late. You can delete or change things you previously wrote or even erase your old accounts and start anew. So if you made some mistakes, they aren’t necessarily permanent.
I wasn’t always careful enough with my privacy online when I started being active online at age 15-ish. I’m trying to be better about this now to keep myself and my family safe.
This means that:
- I may, on occasion, contradict myself when I discuss my life. Let’s call it an “air of mystery” instead of “Luna being forgetful as she tries to be safe online.”
- If you think some of my info is different than it used to be (like my sister’s name), you’re probably right. I changed some things.
- If you think I forgot something important or am doing something unsafe, please let me know. I’m so grateful to the kind people who have nudged me and pointed things out for me.
I know some brave autistic adults use their real names for their advocacy. I support them and hope their lives go well. While I am now stably employed at a good job (yay!), I’ve made the decision to keep using my web name so that randos in my real life don’t know about the severity of my disability. Or about how ugly my art used to be, yikes.
I’m going to do my best to stay safe. Please do the same for yourself. Your future is worth protecting.