Safe online: how can you better protect yourself and your online privacy?

For sex workers, the internet is very convenient. You can use the internet to advertise online and contact customers. Or you offer online services.  

Yet it is good to reflect on your online life. Because while the internet offers numerous benefits, it can also quickly cause damage. It is important to realise that what you put online stays online and is often visible to everyone. Online actions leave a digital trail. In this way, the internet contains a wealth of personal information.

What about your online privacy? How confidential does the info you post online or share with someone else remain?

Online privacy

Everyone has a right to privacy, or the protection of your private life. And therefore also the right to keep certain things hidden.

A first quick check you can do to find out exactly how much info you are revealing online.

Google yourself. Enter your real or working name in the search bar. What will you see?  

Do you come across personal information in the search result? You can ask Google to remove this info from the search engine. This can easily be done by filling in an online form

Keeping control over your personal data also protects you from doxing. In doxing, someone discloses your personal data against your will. He/she reveals identifying information about you on the internet. This might include your address, your name, your personal phone number, workplace, personal photos or videos.

Distributing photos and videos with intimate images is prohibited. This phenomenon is called ‘revenge porn’. The Institute for Gender Equality has created a guide on how to have images taken offline and stop the spread. For more information you can visit their website. 

Practical tips

Do you sometimes worry about your online privacy? Or maybe you know just too little about it? Here are practical tips to protect your online privacy. 

Keep work and private life separate as much as possible.

A first step is to use two separate devices. One for your sex work and one for private use. Avoid logging into accounts for private use on your work device and vice versa. Otherwise, the two could still be linked. 

Create separate accounts. You can go as far as you like in this: different social media profiles, different e-mail addresses, a different web browser and/or e-mail provider. This way you keep everything separate as much as possible.  

Example: You create a profile for your sex work with mail address A. This mail address is a hotmail account. You use Firefox as your web browser. For your personal profile, you use mail address B. This is a Gmail account. Use Safari as your web browser. 

Use a nickname or alias.

Keep your work profiles as anonymous as possible.

Firstly, you do this by not using your real name in your profile. Secondly, you can also use an anonymous e-mail address to create your profile. In any case, avoid e-mail addresses containing personal information.  

You could also consider (partially) anonymising your personal profiles. For example, you could use only your first name or not set a profile picture. 

You can choose a different username for each platform. This is definitely worth considering when it comes to your personal profiles. This way you avoid that if one account is found out, others can easily be found out too. That way, you avoid potentially greater damage. 

Use strong passwords.

A strong password consists of at least 8 characters and contains a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.

A password should not contain references to personal information. Try to avoid repeating passwords as much as possible. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, you can use a ‘password manager’.  


Secure your device using a code, with your fingerprint or facial recognition. That way, no one can just get into your device.  
You can also secure certain apps or accounts separately. This is also known as two-factor authentication. It provides an extra layer of protection.  

Photos and videos.

If you post photos and videos on the internet, it can be very difficult to permanently delete them again. Therefore, always weigh up whether and how recognisable you wish to be.

Do you wish to remain anonymous? These practical tips will help you on your way:  

Avoid images that show your face. If you do use a photo with your face on it, you can choose to wear a mask, blur your face or put something over it (e.g. a face, an emoji).

Important to note here is that a blurred or edited photo can always be brought back to the original. You can avoid this by taking a screenshot of the blurred/edited photo and then posting the screenshot online.  

Be attentive to other visible landmarks that give info about who you are, where you are, where you live or work. Think of tattoos, jewellery, birthmarks, certain items of clothing or decoration. So check your images thoroughly before posting them online.  

Do not use photos and videos that can also be found on your personal profiles. Both could be linked in this way. Certain websites such as Google Image Search allow reverse image search. This means that someone uploads a photo into the search engine. The search engine then looks for where else this picture can be found on the internet and further searches for similar images.  

Do a privacy check of your social media.

What privacy settings do you have? Who can see what on your profile?  
Don't accept just anyone as a friend. Always ask yourself what that person will see then.  

Chatting and calling.

The safest app for this is Signal.  
Signal uses data encryption, which means that others cannot simply access your data. Whatsapp works on the same principle, but is owned by Facebook. This means the app does keep data about you and sells it on to other companies. So consider this before sending personal documents or info online.  

Turn off location features on your apps.

Both on your work and personal mobile phone.

Companies like Facebook are known to collect data based on your location features. For example, an app may make a friendship suggestion based on your location. Something that is not always desirable.  
Location features can sometimes be useful, though. Suppose you are in distress, this does allow certain apps to find out your location. Make the trade-off for yourself. 

The web browser on your computer.

Do you surf via a browser on your computer (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari)? Block cookies.

Cookies track data and try to create a kind of database about you for commercial purposes. As a result, your private surfing behaviour and your surfing behaviour for your sex work could still be linked. This is why it may be advisable to use a different browser for both.  
You can also surf in incognito mode. This mode ensures that your browser does not keep track of which pages you visit or what you look up. However, it does not prevent the pages you visit from collecting information about you. Certain browsers, such as Firefox or DuckDuckGo, offer slightly more privacy protection, by the way. 

Run updates.

Keep your devices and apps up-to-date. Updates often include adjustments in terms of security issues. 


Cyberstalking is a crime where someone repeatedly harasses, threatens or intimidates you via the internet or other electronic means (e.g. mail, chat, phone, social media). 

What can you do about it?

Collect evidence.

Save the disturbing messages you get. Take a screenshot of them. Save messages, emails, photos... In short, as much as possible. Make sure your screenshot shows who the sender is. You can possibly create a file where you collect all the evidence in one place.   

Inform someone.

Talk about it with friends, family or a counsellor. You don't have to bear this alone. Others can offer you support or help you find a solution.  
You can also contact 1712 at any time. 1712 is there for victims of violence. You can reach them via chat, email or phone.  

Contact the moderator or forum administrator.

Are you being harassed in a chat room or forum? The moderator can arrange for your stalker to be suspended.  

Block the person in question.

That way, your stalker cannot contact you as easily. Of course, he/she/they can always create a new account. Set your app privacy settings so that no one can just contact you. Don't accept everyone as a friend either.   

Involve the police.

Feeling unsafe? Don't hesitate to contact the police. You can also report it to the police. Reporting the crime can give you a sense of justice. It ensures that the facts are investigated and the perpetrator possibly punished.  

Still have questions?

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