Your BDSM Profile Puts Your Privacy At Risk by Dirk Hooper

Dirk Hooper 2012/07/18 0
Your BDSM Profile Puts Your Privacy At Risk by Dirk Hooper

Your BDSM Profile Puts Your Privacy At Risk
by Dirk Hooper

If you have a profile or photos on a fetish social networking website, then your job and your privacy are at risk.  There is a recent story of a Canadian police officer who is facing a code of conduct investigation for posting fetish photos on a “bondage website” (reports do not specify which) under the pseudonym “Kilted Knight”.  Late last year University of Northern Virginia Chancellor David Lee resigned from his post when an Immigration investigation uncovered his Collarme.com profile.

Besides those high profile cases I have plenty of my own experiences after nearly twenty years in the BDSM community and 15 years as a fetish photographer. In almost every case where a friend had posted a profile or particularly photos and assumed that no one would find out, someone discovered their secret.

There are numerous ways that people discover the secret, but it usually comes down to three things.

  • People are Nosy – If anyone has a reason to suspect that you would be involved in the fetish community, almost every BDSM social networking site has a low threshold to gaining access.  In five minutes they can be inside a number of sites looking around for you based on your location and your age.
  • People are Kinky – The internet has made it very easy to find all kinds of fetishes and sub genres of kink.  Long before Fifty Shades of Grey became a phenomenon the wealth and variety of kinky content attracted the curious and the serious.  Interest in BDSM has exploded now, so you can expect that your profile is more exposed than ever before.
  • Six Degrees of Separation – Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? That’s the theory that every actor is connected to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less.  In the same way, the online experience has brought us all closer together.  Even if your family or your boss doesn’t find you, there’s a good chance that someone connected to them will.  A single email asking if this is picture of you in a furry costume can reveal your secret in a nanosecond.

You may think that no one would ever connect you and your secret profile, but at this point you’re just being naïve.  I’ve seen it happen so often that you either need to decide that you don’t care (I fall into this category), or if you value your privacy, you need to take some action to protect your identity online.

Here are some suggestions to keep your profile private:

  • Use a Different Name – There’s a reason why most people in the BDSM community use a pseudonym; it’s an easy way to keep your identity private. Online and offline, it’s common in the BDSM community to have a scene name.  This is something simple that can be effective in identity protection and can even be fun.
  • Use a Different Location – If someone’s looking for you, they will look for the city where you live.  By either choosing another city, or a larger geographical location you will provide some cover.
  • Don’t List Your Age – Your age is a very specific identifier that can be used to narrow-down search results.
  • Be Careful About Specifics – The company you work for, the schools you attended, your hometown and your hobbies outside of the scene can help people figure out if that profile is yours.
  • Photos Are the Most Important Consideration – Your face is the easiest way to identify you.  Even a casual search on the right site could bring up your profile photo.  Just removing or blurring your face can provide a great deal of protection.   Tattoos are another easy way to connect you with your photo.  The furnishings in your home are a dead giveaway too.  At the very least, if you want some protection, don’t place your face on your profile photo.

There is one peripheral issue related to your identity online.  The methods I listed here to protect your identity are not for the purpose of keeping your information from prospective partners.  Someone who is going to meet with you should have every expectation to know the truth about who you are for their own safety.  I demand some transparency from anyone I’ve ever met, and you should too.  There’s a big difference between keeping busy-bodies out of your private business, and what you should reveal to someone you are interested in meeting.

I’m certain that the Canadian police officer and the college chancellor were confident that no one would ever discover their secret.  We can certainly debate on whether it’s fair to lose your job because of what happens in your bedroom, but that debate won’t help you if your profile is discovered.  If you are worried about privacy, then you need to take steps right now to protect yourself.

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