Aliases and usernames have become a big part of our personal online presence, and we often feel tied to them when we register for new sites and services.This can be a great was to build an online identity, but it can also make it trivial to tie our activity on various services together.Even if your registered username isn’t immediately visible in a dating profile, it’s often visible in the URL of your profile, your profile photo filenames, or during communication with other users.There are plenty of free and paid services which search and monitor social media and email accounts by username. It will rapidly scan popular sites and services for email addresses, usernames, names, and phone numbers to build a comprehensive profile of a person.performs a broader sweep of services for usernames only, immediately flagging services where a particular username has been registered.This is an easy way for someone with malicious intent to draw connections between a dating site profile username and your ‘real’ life, even if your profiles are correctly private or hidden.The very simplest, a Google search will often turn up social media profiles, forum posts, and blog comments tied to a particular username.If you’re concerned about dating site matches finding your online presence, or people online finding your dating profile, just don’t reuse usernames or email addresses!
This isn’t necessarily traditional hash or metadata specific – cropping or resizing an image is not a foolproof way to defeat this (as I show in the screenshot below, where Tineye and Google correctly identified my profile selfie which is substantially cropped on social media).
The photos are visually similar enough that the search engines’ algorithms can draw a connection.
Ultimately, this means that if you are interested in privacy, you should never reuse a photo or set of photos that you’ve used elsewhere on the internet (at any time) on your dating profile. Reuse isn’t the only situation in which photos can compromise your privacy.
There are two sets of clues that can give away important personal information in your photos. Consider: is there a window in your photos, and are there identifiable buildings or landmarks outside of it?
Were your photos taken in an apartment building or dorm that can be easily identified in other people’s photos?