Claiming and protecting your organization's online identity

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Defining and Protecting Identity Online

What areas to address?

  • Website: domain, hosting
  • Metrics: analytics
  • Content: trademarks, events, mission, values
  • Social Media: accounts, branding
  • Relationships: donors/funders, staff


  • Requiring users to “sign in” with Facebook to access your content asks them to expose themselves and can be problematic
  • Protecting the people related to your organization

Issues related to identity:

  • gender, sexuality, ability, religion
  • anonymity versus accountability
  • when to use individual identity versus organizational
  • when to use pseudonums, or multiple identities, and how to do it well
  • how to delete an identity
  • when do we need to reveal our identity to push our mission, and which parts
  • tracking internal processes with an internal wiki + password manager (1Password, phabrication, keepass)
  • if someone registers your .org/.xyz/.etc protecting trademark, and defending across social media
  • if someone tries to hack your identity, send them a university dispute resolution protocol
  • buying all TLDs and misspellings is no longer practical. Establishing a trademark is better.

Assess what parts of your identity need protection.

  • 1) figure out what you want to do.
  • 2) decide what identity you need
  • 3) ascertain how that identity relates to the world, and flag the issues that will emerge (pro and con)
  • 4) apply this process to both the org and the individuals
  • 5) Maybe not all issues/actions are relevant. Pick the ones you need based on steps 1-4 above.

Pick social media carefully. Only what you can control. Language and locations might be needed for multiple accounts. Use a consistent voice: either a single writer, editor or set of guidelines.

                                                                 | vulnerable/
                                                                 | individual

risky/ | adversary | ⬅-----------------------------------------------------------------------→

                                                                 |                                                            safe/
                                                                 |                                                              ally
                                     solidarity/            |
                                      organizational    ▼

developed this graph. recommended plotting components of identity, and recommending best practices based on which quadrant.