Maintaining Forum Anonymity / Privacy
At BellaOnline, we take privacy concerns extremely seriously. Our entire forum system is on our own personal, dedicated server that is solely within our own control. Nobody else has access to that server or to the data on it. We never, ever share, sell, distribute or even let our own editors see the account details you have put in. We don't use third party forum software products like Yahoo or Google. You can be sure that anything you put into our BellaOnline system is kept very safe by us.
In some situations, for example the domstic violence or abuse forums, there are even greater concerns of visitors for their safety. We allow all visitors to come and read posts, because especially in these areas, there are thousands of victims who need the helpful tips provided, but they are too afraid to create an account because they might be "caught". So we both want to help all of the victims who are not yet ready to create an account - as well as help protect those who do have accounts and who want to post their information.
Here are steps to help all victims create an account and receive our advice, support and tips while minimizing personal danger from abusers.
Create a Free Email Address
Your first step should be to go to gmail.com, hotmail.com, or other free anonymous email providers. Create yourself an email address there. Make the email address something COMPLETELY separate from yourself. Something like 'anonymous24287' is a good idea. Don't use your name, your birthdate, or anything else personally identifiable. The only one thing you'll need this for is to get your password from the BellaOnline forums, and it will never be displayed anywhere, but it will probably be helpful for you in general to have a safe, private email account.
Create a BellaOnline Forum Account
Now that you have a fully anonymous email account, go onto the BellaOnline forums and create a forum account using it. Even if you have an account already, create this new anonymous one. Use a name that is *completely* anonymous - don't use your personal name, location, or anything else in the member name, password, description, etc. Don't fill in any of the optional personal fields. The sole thing a visitor to BellaOnline's forums will see about you is your "display name". As long as you make that an anonymous word, nobody can trace that to you.
Make sure you have your display name set to something completely different than your logon username. That way if someone sees your display name and tries to "guess" how to log in, they will never know what username to use to log into that account.
Take Care in Postings
This is true no matter where you post - at BellaOnline, on other forums, whether they claim to be public or private. Even private forums let in new members, and moderators rarely really know if that new member is a victim or an abuser looking to track down someone. Often, private forums can provide a false sense of security. When you post, never mention names. Just mention the relationship. Never mention locations. You can get help and provide help to others without providing exact details about situations.
Clear History / Cookies
Make it a firm habit that you do every single time you leave your computer, if even for a moment or to answer the phone. Go into your Tools - Options and hit Delete Cookies, then Delete Files, then Clear History. It's a good idea to set the "days to keep pages in history" to zero. Always log out of the forums and of your mail system every time you leave your computer. Do not let your computer auto fill in any forms. That way you have to type your username AND password every time you log into the system.
We take user privacy and safety very seriously here at BellaOnline.com. Please let us know if there is more we can do to help maintain forum user privacy while still continuing to help the thousands of visitors who are visiting us anonymously.
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