How To Create An Anonymous Blog On Medium (Or Elsewhere On The Internet)
A friend recently told me that he was interested in setting up a blog in order to spill the beans on some interesting goings on in his (or her) domain of professional expertise.
The catch was that my friend couldn’t afford to attach his (or her) name to the blog because doing so would likely have adverse professional repercussions and/or expose him/her to a litany of angry people … or lawsuits.
Having preciously written about how to concoct a fictitious online identity and explained some things that might be useful if you were interested in whistleblowing, I thought I’d throw together this quick explainer to put the pieces together.
Because all you really need to share your writing online anonymously is a pseudonym and — if you’re really worried — a few bits and pieces to cover your digital fingerprints. Here’s the easy way to do it. And the hard way.
How to create a fake online identity
And what you should do to avoid interacting with one
The Easy But Less Secure Way: Set Up A Blog On Medium (Or Any Other Third Party Platform)
The most efficient way to set up your anonymous / pseudonymous blog is to create a blog on Medium (or any other online blogging platform) and register the account under your pen name.
If you want to write for Medium, do you have to use your real name or can you use a pen name?
Answer (1 of 10): I strongly suggest you don't use a pen name. Medium is a publishing platform which provides a lot of…
However, as usual, convenience comes with some drawbacks. There are a couple of risks inherent in taking this approach:
- You may violate the terms of service (ToS) of whatever site you’re thinking about blogging on.
- You’re putting your data — and writing — in the hand of a third party. And given that there’s a chance that you would be violating their ToS by blogging pseudonymously, you run the risk that your blog is going to get pulled from the platform.
Nevertheless, if you’re happy to take that risk (if you do, always back up your writing), then here’s a step by step guide that will get you there.
- Grab yourself an AI generated face from this website.
2. Create what the spooks of this world call a ‘legend.’ A fake name for your pseudonymous public entity as well as some credible details. If you’re interested in blogging anonymously to share your story of emotional abuse — to give one credible example — then you’ll probably want to change up a few unimportant details while keeping the persona relatively close to your real life background.
3. Download TOR so that while signing up for the services you’re about to sign up for you don’t give away your IP address.
4. Sign up for a ProtonMail email account.
5. Sign up for a blog on Medium / Wordpress.com / wherever else you’re thinking about blogging.
6. Begin publishing.
Because you’re now blogging under a pen name and have an email address that matches up with your ‘legend’ you can:
- Start an email newsletter
- Reach out to journalists / influencers / other people that may be interested in the material you are sharing
You may or may not wish to declare the fact that the ‘author’ is a fiction invented to protect your anonymity.
Other Things You Might Wish To Know About / Use
If you’re technically inclined, you might want to install a Linux distro like Tails on a USB stick so that you can access your blogging platform over a TOR relay from any computer, including ones that you don’t own.
The Tor Project | Privacy & Freedom Online
If you are in a country where Tor is blocked, you can configure Tor to connect to a bridge during the setup process…
Tails - Download and install Tails
Thank you for your interest in Tails. Installing Tails can be quite long but we hope you will still have a good time :)…
(Or Whonix or Qubes).
You may also wish to anonymously sign up for a file sharing website (check TOS) in order to be able to link from your blog to things like documents.
Don’t Forget To Inspect — And Scrub — Metadata
Finally, you should install a metadata checker (and scrubber) onto your computer in order to ensure that you’re not inadvertently leaking metadata through anything you might upload to the blog, especially images.
Again, the lengths that you wish to go to will likely depend upon how worried you are about your anonymity which in turn will probably depend upon whether the information you’re thinking about sharing is sensitive.
About Image Scrubber This is a tool for anonymizing photographs taken at protests. It will remove identifying metadata…
MetaCleaner - Clean your files metadata online
MetaCleaner allows to remove metadata from documents or files that you had no intention of including or disclosing.
If you’re concerned about keeping your real IP private then you should also remember to:
- Always access your blog and email associated with it from TOR or while using a commercial VPN provider that you trust
Change Some Details
The final step in the process towards creating a blog while preserving your own anonymity is taking proactive steps to being able to prevent malicious web users from doxxing you.
- Changing non-significant particulars
- Not using the pseudonym for multiple blogs — or for any purpose other than publishing this blog
- If you’re going to create multiple pseudonymous blogs, avoid using the same tactics each time
The Harder But More Secure Way: Provision Your Own Infrastructure To Run Your Blog On
In order to get a blog onto the internet you basically need two things:
- A web server that is exposed to the internet
- A domain name
Those two are enough to simply host text on the internet. For instance, you could create posts as a series of basic HTML files.
For the sake of convenience, however, most users — especially those that want simple solutions — are also probably going to want to install a content management system (CMS) such as Wordpress.
To run your own webserver, you can bypass the need to use commercial hosting or infrastructure by installing Ubuntu Server onto a spare laptop and opening up port forwarding on your router. However, from a privacy standpoint, this is a really bad idea.
To the best of my knowledge, there’s no feasible way for individuals to become their own domain registrars (businesses that want to do this must go through an ICANN accreditation process). So in order to grab a domain name to host the blog on you’re going to need to deal with a third party.
The commercial approach, in full, would look like this:
- Purchase anonymous website hosting
- Buy a domain name to host your site on anonymously
- Find a provider that lets you do both (example)
Best anonymous hosting of 2021
(Image credit: Julia Khalimova / Pexels) If you've ever thought about keeping your web host's IP and domain information…
Most anonymous hosting providers accept payment in Bitcoin — so open up a wallet too and have some at the ready.
There are many legitimate reasons why individuals might be tempted to set up a blog under a pseudonym — or simply publish one completely anonymously.
The different technical approaches are suitable for individuals with differing security and privacy requirements.
For individuals with “low grade” anonymity requirements and who wish to disclose information that isn’t likely to result in cease and desists, simply publishing through a commercial blogging platform is likely to be enough — although scrubbing metadata and never logging in directly might be best practices to enhance one’s self of security.
Individuals with more controversial information to share may be better served by signing up for a web host and domain registrar that supports pseudonymous/anonymous signups and payment in cryptocurrency.
ProtonMail will block signups over Tor, or at least require submission of PII to validate signsups. Users many therefore prefer to use a VPN for this step of the process.