Noted Twitch streamer Guy Beahm, who streams under the name “Dr. Disrespect,” recently walked off camera, returning to announce that his house had been fired upon for the second day in a row. Earlier this year Gavin Free, known for his work on the “Slowmo Guys” Channel, shared his experience of having to hide in a closet when a viewer broke into his home – an event that unfortunately ended in bloodshed when law enforcement arrived. For feminist content creators like Anita Sarkeesian, long reviled by some of the more misogynistic corners of the internet, death threats and verbal abuse are all too common. These harrowing experiences, along with other incidents of violence in the video game and YouTube/Twitch streaming community have rocked people’s sensibilities in recent weeks, and forced creators to take a renewed look at personal security and privacy.
In an environment where death threats, verbal abuse and incidents of violence are all too common, having your personal information available for anyone to access just adds to the potential for trouble. And while we recognize that being a content creator today often means sharing your world with your viewers, being aware of the risks and taking some steps to protect your privacy can help to safeguard you while still allowing that open dialogue.
Avoid Using Your Real Name
Be very careful about revealing your real name when streaming or creating other content online. While never foolproof, using a pseudonym can help protect your identity. You could also go a step further and set up different email accounts that don’t include your personal information to sign up for the services on which you want to stream/create.
Use Strong Account Security
Making sure that your accounts are properly secured is key on any service or platform you might use. You can do this by:
- using strong passwords
- saving and updating your passwords regularly using a password manager (i.e. LastPass)
- enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible
- if using two-factor authentication, also use a dedicated security token (i.e. Yubikey) or app (i.e. Google Authenticator)
Avoid Sharing Your Address or Information About Your Home
Never include your home address in your content. You’ll also want to avoid showing the front of your house/building in which you live or walk-throughs of the interior (which can give information to potential home invaders). If you have viewers interested in sending you packages, consider signing up for a P.O. Box or other private mailbox.
Avoid Linking Information About Your Identity
If you’ve signed up for a domain, link social media accounts to your streaming accounts or host your own website, you’ll want to be very careful about which services are connected to your real identity and be aware of what information is publicly available (i.e. the WHOIS directory records information on website domain registrations).
Be Careful with Your Photos’ Metadata
Be sure to check the settings in Facebook and Instagram to ensure that they are not sharing location data from your photos.
Discuss Privacy and Safety with Your Friends and Family
Even if you’re doing everything to keep yourself safe, if your friends or family are careless in their sharing practices that involve you (i.e. tagging you in locations, photos of your house, etc.), your security could still be at risk. As such, it’s very important to have a discussion with those that you interact with in real life so they’re aware and can be more careful in their sharing practices when it comes to your information.
If you’ve experienced a bad privacy situation stemming from your creation of online content, please share your story with us!