Even when you're using a fake name on a social media site, your comments can come back to haunt you. Just ask notorious Redditor violentacrez, who was unmasked last fall by Adrian Chen, a reporter for Gawker.
Is it possible to protect your privacy online? Some say no.
"Trying to take something off the Internet is like trying to remove pee from a swimming pool," wrote Redditor steste.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others, Reddit asks for no personal information to create an account. However, it still records and retains the IP address from which the account was made, which can be enough for law enforcement to help establish a user's identity. And in the case of violentacrez, an ambitious reporter could find his identity through his comments and associations with other Redditors. [See also: What Is Doxing? ]
violentacrez, aka Michael Brutsch, became a target for his very offensive posts. Your posts may be just a bit embarrassing — in hindsight.
You can delete a regrettable comment or your entire account on any social media network, but your data can remain on a site's servers indefinitely. Whereas other companies, such as Google, have declined to say how long they keep users' content and associated IP addresses, Reddit is explicit in its new terms of service. [See also: TIL: A Reddit Dictonary ]
However, Reddit is working on an option that would allow users to completely remove all of their posts when they delete their accounts. In the meantime, here's a workaround for removing old posts for good.
Don't delete; overwrite instead
Deleting posts removes them from public view but not from Reddit's servers. Instead, Redditors should overwrite them.
So, the trick is to go back into your Reddit account and replace old comments that you want to erase with something innocuous, such as "I like turtles."