As a YouTuber who puts a lot of personal information out on the Internet for the world to see, it’s important to keep yourself safe and protect some of your personal information. While most fans will just want to be able to say HI to you, there are creepers out there who may want to track you down and do harm to you and your family. Let’s talk about how to stay safe and protect yourself, your family, and your information.
WillYouLaugh wrote and asked this– “Tim, do you follow any rules in terms of privacy and your safety for your vlog channel? I do vlog, so I would love to know.” This is a really important question and one that I take seriously. My family has been vlogging on YouTube since 2006. Well, we weren’t a family then. It was just me and my girlfriend. And then we got married. And now, we’re still doing this stuff together.
Use Alternative Names
But we have taken a few things into consideration, especially now that we’ve had children. Number one, if I was to go back and do it again, I would probably not use my real last name. I know a lot of people do use their real, actual names online. And I didn’t really think it’s a big deal when I started. It’s still not a huge deal.
But I think the smart people who have thought ahead enough to say, you know what? I’m not going to use my last name. I’m going to assume a different last name that everyone’s going to know me by. But legally, you would never be able to find them with that last name.
Try Not to Show Residence
Number two, on our family’s vlogging channel, we try not to show our residence, like the house where we live, especially not the front of the house. The back of the house, we’ll show. We try not to ever shoot anything inside our neighborhood. And we even be careful when we’re in our town and in our city not to show too much of street signs and easily recognizable landmarks that if you watch our videos enough, you could start to pinpoint, probably, approximately where we live.
Hide Trackable Information
Number three, we also try to hide trackable information. And for us, this includes many things like, one, license plates. If our license plates get into the video, we make sure we blur that out. We don’t ever give out our real mailing address.
We don’t use our real phone numbers, actually, like our Verizon numbers. We have Google Voice numbers that we use instead. On my website domains, you can look up the WHOIS information to see who that domain is registered to. I actually have that information privatized so you can’t just look up our domains and find out our info.
And then we also are careful about birthdays. You can get a lot of information about someone if all you know is their first and last name and their birthday. That’s actually all the information you need in order to do a background check on someone. So in our family’s vlogging channel, we usually talk about birthdays either before or after they’ve actually happened.
Careful on Revealing Traveling Plans
Number four, my wife and I are careful about announcing our travel plans online. I, especially, am careful about this if I’m going to leave my wife and my kids at home. I don’t want anyone who might have an unhealthy infatuation with my wife or kids knowing that I’m gone for a few days.
Or if our whole family is gone, I don’t want someone who’s figured out where we live to know that our house is sitting vacant for a few days or a week. I want to be able to come home and still have all my stuff.
So what we do is that when we know we’re going to be out of town for a little while, we queue up vlogs to publish while we are gone. And then when we come back home, that’s when we then start posting the vlogs and the Instagram pictures and stuff.
Search Available Public Information About Yourself
And number five, just simply search Google for your own name and see what information is publicly available out there about you. When I tweeted out this asking people for their input into this, DrankisDank tweeted me back and said this– “try to Dos yourself every once in a while, and see if you can find your own dirt! Use sites like pipl.com!” I’ll put a link to that website below if you guys want to check and see what information pops up about yourself.
But at the end of the day, guys, let’s just be honest– if someone really wants to find you, they can probably find you. There’s private detectives out there who make a full-time income doing exactly that kind of thing. So do some due diligence to protect yourself, but don’t give yourself the false security that you are unfindable.
If you feel like it’s necessary, be a little proactive. Maybe invest into a home security system or depending on what your political views are, you could get your concealed carry license. Or at the very least, you could get some martial arts and self-defense training. That’s probably a good skill to have, generally speaking, anyway.
But the vast majority of the people out there who are watching your videos, really, all they want to do is they want to find out where you are so they can come and say, thank you for making a difference in my life. They probably just want to give you a hug, maybe take a selfie with you. And that’s really what they’re looking for.
Don’t let all this freak you out. But do take some of this stuff into consideration. I would love to hear from you guys in the comments below. What types of things, rules, principles, guidelines, have you put into effect to protect you and your family?
Obviously, you don’t have to be a YouTube vlogger for these things to apply to you. Anyone who’s putting information out on the internet about themselves can run into this, especially if you’re developing a fan base and an audience. You will have people who want to see you, and be with you, and talk with you. And while that sounds awesome, it can sometimes get out of control as well.