General Question

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Can my internet posts be traced to my IP address?

Asked by SadieMartinPaul (9012points) September 16th, 2013

About 25 years ago, I suffered some profound losses. I sought grief counseling to help pick up the pieces of my life. Long story short, I fell into the hands of therapist whom I soon found to be unprofessional, untrustworthy, and possibly unethical. I knew nothing about therapy at the time, but I knew that there was something very wrong with this man and the way he treated me.

Flash forward – this guy’s going on trial next month for having (allegedly) molested a 15-year-old girl. Briefly, I’m not the least bit surprised.

In recent weeks, I’ve been slamming this man at every medical review website. I’ve gone to the online newspaper articles about his alleged crime and made scathing comments. (Everything that I’ve posted is 100% true but extremely volatile.)

If this creep isn’t convicted, will he be able to trace my posts back to my IP address?

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17 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

It’s certainly possible, but not terribly likely.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Depends on if the places that you have been slamming him keep logs, and then also if they would give him access to those logs (which they might if a court forced them to).

Most web sites keep logs of this kind of stuff (postings and responses) because most web software keeps logs by default.

But most web sites keep the logs only for a short while (90 days) and dump them.

Having said that, it’s not impossible that your IP address could be found. It depends on a lot of factors. Not likely, but not impossible.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Many websites keep IP logs. Not just anyone has access to these logs, however. That therapist (just like any average person) won’t have access to those logs. In order to gain access, he would have to go through the process of getting a court order or something similar, which takes considerable effort.

DeanV's avatar

Yes, but most websites won’t release that information to just anyone without a damn good reason.

trailsillustrated's avatar

That’s what Tor is for.

DeanV's avatar

Yeah it’s really not. Unless you’re so far down the rabbit hole that you don’t care about your internet experience anymore, you’re best off using a VPN, as it’ll actually let you keep using the internet at a reasonable speed and like a normal person.

augustlan's avatar

It’s very unlikely that he’ll be able to obtain the information. I mean, as a site admin., I can tell what your IP address is, but I’d never reveal it to anyone unless a court order compelled me to.

jerv's avatar

He probably won’t be able to. As @augustlan and @DeanV point out, most site admins don’t give out that information without a warrant. That said, I would still rein it in a bit.

If he claims harassment or slander or something along those lines and takes legal action against you, then there is a chance that his lawyer could cut through the necessary red tape and get the records. Now, @augustlan, is it safe to assume that if a lawyer showed up with a signed warrant asking for somebody’s IP, you probably would release those records?

It’s highly unlikely that it will go that way, but it’s possible enough that I feel you should be warned that “unlikely” does not mean “impossible”.

augustlan's avatar

@jerv I honestly don’t know what we’d do. I hope we’re never put to the test!

jerv's avatar

@augustlan Well, it’s almost moot. I’m sure that if they went to a dozen sites with warrants, at least one admin would.

funkdaddy's avatar

Your traffic is logged by your ISP, there wouldn’t be much need to look at the records for the individual sites except for confirmation.

How hard it is to compel your ISP to hand over records seems to depend mostly on who’e asking for the information. My understanding (not a lawyer) is that if he could show a crime was committed with the comments then a law enforcement agency might take on collecting the information. At that point the ISP could be compelled with just a letter from the law enforcement agency.

If there’s no crime, it’s considerably harder for an individual to get access to the same information.

I’m very sorry you were exposed to this guy and understand you’re trying to inform others of what’s happened. Please don’t take this as criticism as I wouldn’t even know where to start understanding your whole ordeal or feelings on this.

That said, anonymous comments on the internet are probably not very anonymous or effective in making whatever change you’re looking for. How much weight would you give anonymous comments in your decisions?

Maybe there’s a better way? Does it matter if he knows it’s you?

If you want to make a difference, the case against him may need some help and could be aided by the same information you’re posting online.

ragingloli's avatar

Everything gets logged. And with a court order or a friend in the NSA, he will be able to trace it all back to you, phone number and physical address included.

antimatter's avatar

Yes, in many ways you may be f….!

gambitking's avatar

The rule of thumb I always go by is this:

Everything you do is always ultimately traceable. Act accordingly at all times.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Oops. Maybe I’ll go back and delete my comments from those various websites.

I haven’t defamed the man; all I’ve done is tell the truth, and in very broad terms. But, if he’s acquitted of the child abuse indictment, he might go looking for blood.

My relationship with him was nearly 25 years ago, so he’s worked with countless patients since then. I doubt that he’ll read my posts and be reminded of me.

By the way, those same websites have plenty of similar warnings about this guy. I’m not the only one

DeanV's avatar

I think you’re being slightly paranoid. This to me seems like a “cross that bridge if you come to it” scenario. You could beat yourself up about what might happen, put in a lot of effort to get all that stuff removed right now, or you could see if it even does happen (I think it’s very unlikely) myself, and then deal with whatever fallout there may be then. I wouldn’t stress to hard now.

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