Would post your phone number on a bathroom wall? Then why do so many people do the internet equivalent?
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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.
I’ll start by apologizing.
I’m sorry if I sound annoyed. In reality, bemused or somewhat disappointed
would be more accurate.
Let me ask you this: would you write your phone number on the wall of a
bathroom? Or maybe your email address? Well, of course you wouldn’t. In fact,
these days you probably want to be careful about putting your contact
information out on anything viewable by the general public – anything from a
newspaper want ad to a lost pet poster.
Because there are people out there who will abuse that information.
And nowhere are there more people like that than on the internet. The level
of anonymity the internet provides allows people to say, and do, just about
anything to anyone without consequences.
So why, why would you post your email address or your home phone
number in a comment on some random blog? You’re inviting the trolls of the
internet into your home, onto your phone and into your mailbox.
And yes, of course I’m specifically talking about my random blog: Ask Leo!. At least a couple of times a week I end up
editing someone’s comment to remove some amount of personal information. Even
though I clearly state in the instructions for commenting that you should not
post an email address – it happens all the time.
Besides, you should know better.
With all the talk about spam and how email addresses are harvested from web
sites, and with the constant stream of questions I get from people trying to
keep or breach privacy – I’d expect more people would get it.
Identity theft doesn’t surprise me in the least, given how freely so many
people share personal information. No, posting your phone number won’t lead to
identity theft, but the mindset that allowed you to post that phone number in
public place on some random web site will probably, someday, lead you to hand
out more sensitive information to people or places where it just shouldn’t
And yes, I just compared Ask Leo! comments to a bathroom wall. In fact, the
entire internet is that bathroom; anyone can and will walk in and see what
you’ve written. Anyone.
So, to be super clear: don’t post your email address in the body of a
comment. Don’t post your phone number or private information anywhere that’s
It’s just that simple. I’m still not sure why more people don’t get it.
I’d love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 11235 in the go
to article number box and leave me a comment. While you’re there, browse over
1,000 technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I’m Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.