Vlogging and Self-Doxxing

Jan. 28, 2023 [privacy-security] [guides]

Using an alias and keeping secret the whereabouts of one’s property are a good start for anyone putting themselves out there in the name of truth, however please respect that opsec needs only a single slip up in order to be compromised. Let’s take a look at how easily an adversary can pinpoint an individual. This example vlogger (who will remain unnamed) shares content about his hobby vehicle, which we will use as the first point of data. Mistake #1 he films this video from his place of residence. Mistake #2, he has openly shared his town of residence in previous videos. Pay attention to the house color and the nearby homes.

The leaks occur across several videos which accumulate into quite a bit of information.

In this frame the camera pans up, only for a moment, to reveal that his property borders a waterside road. Note the fuel tank tower in the background.

After identifying a few tank towers in the region, we are able to discern the exact tower by referencing photography from the municipality.

Road positioning and landmark distance lines up correctly on a satellite map.

The home across the street, seen earlier.

The location in question.

How can this be mitigated? Well, it can’t really. But try to film your talks out away from your residence, preferably out in nature. Minimize filming upward toward the sky (contrails can map to flightpath info) or filming signage of any nearby roads or trails. Wait a number of days before uploading and do not share your location, or at least salt your data by lying about where you are. Also consider flipping your videos left/right, selectively obscuring any landmarks before final render, or suppressing ambient background audio which could be unique to your area.

I’ve found that some vloggers attempt to blur sensitive things like signage in an effort to conceal where they are. Although this may not be sufficient. If you ever want to censor out a portion of image or video to conceal some private information, do so with an opaque black box a.k.a. censor bar. Using a gaussian type blur is insufficient and can technically be reversed.

Showing one’s own face (and place) on video can be thought of as a compromise which sacrifices relative anonymity in exchange for recognizability, and perhaps closeness with one’s audience. If you’re goal is to become a publicly recognized figure, then I suppose the only thing left to conceal is where you live. All else becomes nil.