I've been on the receiving end of this sort of thing. In my case there were no incriminating photos or anything else, just a series of articles I'd written on a number of topics. They had rated well, I was doing OK, I was also telling friends about the site so they would read my articles and give me feedback. Then within a few days of telling a couple of friends, I began to get vicious public comments on my articles. A lot of these were making personal attacks on my character as well as my writing. All were anonymous and most also used fake names which were themselves having a go at me personally, such as "Totally Disgusted With You".
At first I was really upset because it was clearly an attack on me, not on my work. I had other readers who defended me, and this was met with, "You are so pathetic that you post under fake names to try to defend yourself."
The more I tried to fight it, the worse it got. The site was (for other reasons) on the point of shutdown so the moderators weren't interested in doing anything. I tried pulling articles and was accused of cowardice. Then the pulled articles began to reappear, pasted into the comments section.
One such article I'd written was a discussion on a social issue which had some bearing on conflict within a lot of churches. I had intended it to be seen broadly and not specifically. Although I had been careful in the wording I did realise that some of my church friends might be paranoid enough to take it personally so I made a point of posting it without notification to my contacts.
Then the article was emailed in entirety to some members of my church. I was accused by local church leaders of having sent the article myself to these people as a personal attack on them. "Do you want us to look bad?"
I tried in vain to explain that it was not about them; it was worded anonymously, and I had not emailed anybody. Because I had written it carefully I stood by what I'd written, but the way it had been presented to them did at first look like I was being openly critical of this particular church, which I was not. My reputation with them was badly damaged and with a lot of these people it has not recovered.
Then I put my thinking cap on. I remembered the most recent friend I'd told about the site. I didn't know of any problem she had with me, but the more this anonymous person posted, the more I was recognising certain phrases which she would use. She was a bitter, cynical, nasty person who would take personal pleasure out of humiliating people. I had never trusted her but I was nice to her as she was also very close friends with a close friend of mine, J. In fact, J had been so occupied with doing things with this woman that she was never around when I dropped in. Or I would organise to meet with J and find that this woman had invited J to lunch, or had needed some help with something. Then this woman and J had a falling out and suddenly J was always home when I visited. J went from being in this woman's pocket to crying on my shoulder about the hurt this woman was causing her (J). This had happened at about the time the flame war had begun.
J at the time did not have a computer, nor did she have much expertise in them, beyond basic word processing. Besides, this wasn't her style. But it was definitely her former friend's style. I looked at distributions - who had received the emails supposedly from me - and they were the people this woman was spending most time with. Neighbours. People she saw regularly. Geographically the pattern fit. Linguistically (her pet phrases, her 'tone', etc) all fit. The choice to attack me at all also fit with this woman's tendency to be vicious just for fun. Plus, I was now spending a lot more time with J, whose previous unavailability now appeared to be due to this woman monopolising a friendship purely to exclude me.
Once I recognised who it was I stopped worrying, because I knew it would never be more than words. The people at church who refused to believe me - they had shown their true colours. The flamer had not acted out of concern for the church - she was a committed atheist who despised the people at the church, even while she buttered them up (I got this from J). Meanwhile, J's reputation was being openly smeared by this woman.
In hindsight I still say I did nothing wrong. An employer would not find fault. There are no photos. But my first mistake - I had used my real name. I trusted people to be fair and honest, forgetting that the internet provides a huge smokescreen behind which some very nasty people get their own kicks.
My second mistake - I told people I knew, about the website.
Most people are great. But there are enough out there who have nothing better to do than to hurt other people as much as they can. Because of this, I will not allow my kids to blog using their real names or images. easy child 2/difficult child 2 is listed on IMDb under her real name, because she is in screen credits for a short film and is about to be in screen credits for a feature film. But that is different. She posts on a typical teen website which uses an avatar and pseudonym. Some of her friends know her avatar and post to her this way. Her exBF was one of them and very nastily blogged about their sex life in a very derogatory way ("she is as immature as a 12 year old and has the boobs to match") but because it was a pseudonym, anybody such as an employer would never know it was her. Only those who knew her avatar would have known and most of them were outraged on her behalf. But it was a stern lesson for her.
With easy child 2/difficult child 2's exBF and with my own flamer, the best response eventually was no response. In my case, the site was about to shut down so I wasted no more time on it (especially after the moderators seemed to have vanished into thin air). In easy child 2/difficult child 2's case she copied everything he blogged into a text file (I had done this with mine, also) and when he called to ask her to get back with him, she quoted bits at him. Otherwise, she totally ignored his online existence.
What I'm trying to say - the words of caution have to run extremely deep. And yes, what you write can stay with you for a very long time and can come back to bite you.
I know my flamer will have no interest in this site. She's also a coward. But I have enough evidence to take things further if ever it begins again with her. I could be tracked backwards from this site, but not TO this site. I also, sadly, cannot tell people I know about this site (much as I would love to). I need to be free to say what I need to say.
All we can do is keep advising our kids to stay safe, to play safe and to blog safe. And to do the same ourselves.
by the way, when I read through this article there was also a link to another article, giving advice on how to check your online status with this sort of thing, how to protect yourself, and who to call to clean things up. Good stuff.