For many people sex blogging and other related forms of erotic creative work is something that they do under a pen name in order to keep the ‘adult’ related side of their work separate from their ‘real life’ identity. The reasons for this are wide and varied but most commonly related to privacy issues that surround work/employers and family.
So you select a pen name, start a free hosted blog, which quickly leads you onto self hosting when you discover that most free platforms are pretty hostile to adult content. You buy domain name privacy to ensure that your real name and address are not broadcast to all and sundry. So far so good. Maybe you post pictures of yourself and maybe you don’t but if you do then you take time to make sure your face is not in them, you possibly even erase any tattoos or birthmarks that might contribute towards you being recognised. You start a Twitter account, you post comments on other people’s blogs, you join Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, all using your pen/blog name. Maybe you even start going to events and meeting people in person.
Of course none of this guarantees your privacy/protection of your real name but the likelihood is that you will probably be OK, that is until you join Facebook because if anything is going to out you in a heartbeat it will probably be this.
If you have a profile in your real name and then you make an additional one in your blog/pen name or vice versa it will only be a matter of hours before Facebook with their ever intrusive cookies and desire to know everything about everyone and, more importantly of all, share that information with everyone, will have connected your two profiles together. If you are unobservant, or like many people, tend to ignore the ‘friends you might know’ suggestions that Facebook constantly gives you, you might even miss it but if not then you will quickly notice that you, are being suggested to you, as someone you might know and exactly the same thing is happening to all your friends on both profiles. Suddenly your Mum, or son or Aunty Brenda is starting to see your pen name profile popping up in their suggested friends list. If you are lucky they will ignore it or not notice it but if you are unlucky then you might just find that every Tom, Dick and Uncle Harry in your family will suddenly be confronted with your sex blogging identity.
This is not a problem restricted to Facebook mind you. G+ also has a bit of a tendency to operate in a similar way but currently I don’t think most people are using that platform to say in touch with family/work colleagues in quite the same way as they are Facebook. Facebook is, in my opinion, the most stalker-y of the social media platforms. You are the commodity and as a result they have worked hard to ensure that not only do they know as much about you as possible but unlike some of the other platforms they are going to attempt to share that information with as many people as possible. The outcome of is that very quickly they will be cross sharing your profiles with you and then eventually with your friends.
I have 2 Facebook accounts; One of them in my family name which I use to stay in touch with family in the USA and to keep an eye on my kids. The other one is my Molly Moore account which I use to promote my work here and connect with a variety of different people both friends and others in the erotic creative industry. Currently Facebook seems to have given up trying to get me to friend myself, I guess my continued ignoring of the suggestion has eventually worked its way into their algorithms but for the longest time ever at the top of the ‘people you might know list’ on my family profile was some sex blogger called Molly Moore as it was on both my children’s profiles too and so I can only assume that the same was true for many of the other people on my family profile. Luckily for me this is not a big issue. My children are aware of my work and pen name and when they asked about it I said not to ‘friend’ me there as that was for my work. So far no one on my family profile has tried to ‘friend’ Molly or even mentioned it to me. The people on that profile fall into 3 groups I think.
1. They know I am also Molly, in fact they are also connected to the sex blogging/erotic world but because we are friends beyond just work we have also shared family profiles
2. They have worked it out and chose to either ignore it/pretend it is not happening or secretly read/view my work. Maybe a guilty pleasure?
3. They are so unobservant they have yet to notice.
As I said I am in a lucky position. I don’t have an employer to worry about. My close family knows about my work (this has not been without its challenging moments mind you but Facebook was not part of that drama) I am not really that concerned about being outed. I am pretty out. However, there is one area that I remain cautious about and that my children’s lives. They are entitled to their privacy and to be able to grow up without having to endure any possible ‘drama’ relating to their Mothers wild ways. I try very hard to make this the case for them but I have also come to realise that there is no way I can cocoon them completely and so we have settled on a happy divide of affording them as much privacy as possibly whilst also giving them the skills and knowledge they need to defend themselves from any possible attempts to use me against them. So far it seems to have worked out OK for everyone to the extent that I recently discovered that my son has in fact outed me to all his friends but that is a story for another post.
Anyway, back to Facebook and more importantly you. So what can you do to protect yourself?
Sadly the only way to truly protect yourself from Facebook – the outing social media platform as I like to call it, is to not use it. If you have a family/real name profile then stick to having only that. If you think that friends, family, or employers discovering your other identity could possibly lead to life altering consequences and repercussions that are unacceptable to you then do not make an additional profile on Facebook. You can still be a successful writer/blogger/erotic creative without it. Yes it will help but if the potential for destroying your life is also in the mix then it just not worth it.
If you still want to do it though, there are a few things you can do to try to limit the chances of this happening.
1. Never stay logged into Facebook when you not are actively on the site, this way you will not click on a Facebook link from somewhere else and view the content from whilst logged into the ‘wrong’ profile.
2. Always and I mean ALWAYS use different browsers to access your different profiles. This will limit Facebooks ability to track your cookies and link your two profiles but it is not a perfect solution as IP addresses can also be an issue
3. Try not to cross friend people as this will only encourage Facebook to connect those people all back to you, as you then ‘Share Mutual Friends’ as far as Facebook is concerned.
4. Install Ghostrey – Visit https://www.ghostery.com/ and Ghostery will offer the plugin you need for the browser you use to visit the site (remember to do this with each of your browsers) Once you install the plugin you will be presented with options for which trackers to block. I defaultly block them all. When you visit a webpage you will have a ghost icon near the top of your browser window and you will get a popup list of all the trackers that have been blocked on the page. Everywhere on the page where a tracker has been blocked you will see a ghost icon with a button that will allow the tracker to be loaded just once or another icon that will allow you to whitelist the tracker permanently. One thing to note is that Ghostery treats outsourced comment systems like Disqus and LiveFyre as trackers (because that is what they really are) So if you really want to see the comments you will have to allow once, or whitelist those comment systems.
Finally, as I already said, the only real way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you is to not have 2 Facebook profiles.
To be honest the fact that there is a need for me to write this piece saddens me because it is a symptom of the world that we live in where writing about or sharing in some way a normal, naturally, healthy part of human adult life is viewed by some vocal people as being shameful and by some real extremists as something they would like to criminalise. How did sex ever become this taboo?
I truly believe that if everyone who led a kinky lifestyle or even just enjoys some kinky sex now and then, along with all the sex bloggers, erotic writers, performers and other erotic creatives all came out en masse the whole landscape of what is and is not viewed as acceptable would be changed overnight. Realistically this is probably not going to happen but I do hope that with an ever-increasing open conversation around sex, sexuality and human desire that slowly things will change. In the meantime I think it is only right that you are given as much information/help as possible to allow you to protect yourself so that you can actually be free to express yourself in any way that you see fit without Facebook fucking everything up for you.