The awaited privacy write-up, part one.
I launched this newsletter on the promise of personal security best practices. Here it is.
Earlier this year, I became Mintlodica. Mint, my favorite hue, and melodica, the instrument anime manic pixie dream girls play. My username used to be my real name. In retrospect, that was a dumb idea. I'm glad, and a bit mad, to report abstracting yourself behind a handle works well. They may know me as Susan, but they harass me much less. To them, Mintlodica is a Creative Studio not a person. When it comes to naming, not inviting yourself to "be open and out there" helps maintain your privacy.
Anything you can stand to delete, you should delete right away. Deleting Facebook was one of the best decisions I've made. Many sites make it a pain to go through their account removal process. Turns out, those sites are the ones you need to worry about the most. If you have historical data on any platform, consider finding a script to scrub it. Time and time again, we can't trust the corporations to do this for us. After all, this is a world where not even your disappearing content disappears. We need to be vigilant.
Only give as little information as you need to use the site.
When services ask for data like your birth date, stop yourself for adding it. Half the time, the form validates without this information. The other half, you should enter dummy data. Unless you're renewing your Government Issued ID, they don't need this. Same when it comes to apps asking to get your location. It turns out, the app will still work!
Create a few pen names.
I have a Yelp account using one of my pen names. I want to support the small businesses I patronize without compromising my privacy. It's easy to triangulate where someone might live based on a handful of data points.
Vanity search yourself in a private browsing window.
Reverse search every 2 months to take care of the public records aggregators. People finder sites pop up every so often and not only compromise you, but your family too. You don't want those phone numbers and addresses in plain sight. Try combinations like your full name, full legal name, name and workplace, and any usernames you ever used online.
Those who cause us harm are regular people. So this is a reminder to never give out another person's contact information. Ask yourself, "Why couldn't the supposed mutual ask for it themselves?" This is so important, I'm going to repeat myself...
For the love of dog, don't give out any contact information that's not yours.
More about that next time.
I should acknowledge it's a holiday weekend in the U.S. I had a nice dinner with friends. And am now at the tail end of a Silent Meditation Retreat. Yes, that millennial trope.
This came to be of interest after I listened to Why Buddhism is True. It's a delightful listen/read. The book frames Buddhist teachings with cognitive psychology and anthropology. I ended up buying a paperback copy to read it again.
I scoped "What is the meaning of life?" question down to "What is the meaning of my life?" Still a lofty pursuit. I'll let you know when I'm onto something.
I hope you had a good weekend, holiday or not.
If you enjoyed this letter, consider tipping me $5 for a fancy strawberry soda or backing my Patreon.
We may take a small share of sales via our Amazon affiliate links.