Wikipedia:Privacy of article subjects

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Many public figures utilize pseudonymns (also called "stage names" or "professional names") in their public life. Often, the legal name, birthname, or prior names (in cases where the public figure has changed their legal name to their pseudonymn in a jurisdiction that permits such changes) are known and verifiable but have not been widely publicised. Some such figures claim that publicising their other names makes them more likely to be subject to stalking, harassment, or crime.

Use of pseudonymns is particularly widespread in the sex industry, which considers disclosure of a model or actor's true identity to be a safety problem.

In general, Wikipedia articles should not include the true identity of living people who are pseudonymous in public life merely because the true identity is verifiable. The name must be salient as well, as with:

  • Pseudonymous individuals whose true identity is well known, e.g. Robert Zimmerman/Bob Dylan. In these cases, an article would clearly be incomplete without the true identity of the person.
  • Deceased persons whose true identity is a part of the enduring historical record, e.g. Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain
  • Pseudonymous individuals whose true identity is verifiable and where knowing their true identity is important in understanding their public life, e.g. Nicolas Cage
  • Individuals whose true identity is newsworthy on a nationwide or comparable scale
  • Pseudonymous individuals who have themselves deliberately disclosed their true name at some point, such as in a press release or interview with a member of the press

Factors weighing against inclusion of true identity, even where verifiable, include:

  • Articles about living individuals of marginal notability.
  • Situations where the true name is not already well known by the public.
  • Cases where a safety concern is plausible

Campaigns to disclose the true identity of sex workers[edit]

From time to time, disgruntled individuals will seek to publicize the true identity of a sex worker who has been known to the public only by a stage name. U.S. federal regulations require that producers of pornographic material that depicts actual sexual activity ascertain the age and true identity of any models or actors. The law is written in such a way to require many people involved in production of such material to themselves personally view government-issued photo ID of models and actors involved. In this way, a large number of insiders become aware of the true identity of these individuals. Consequently, there is significant potential for one or more people to wish to publicize this information.

Wikipedia's policy of no original research prohibits us from being the first publisher of such information.

There are also occasional reports of organized attempts by people and groups opposed to pornography to reveal the true identity of those involved in its production.


The Internet Movie Database (, like Wikipedia, encourages contributions from its readers. It is not unusual for someone wishing to disclose the true identity of a pseudonymous individual who has appeared in one or more motion pictures to simultaneously disclose this information to both IMDB and Wikipedia. IMDB does not further source this information in at least some cases, thus, IMDB should not be considered a reliable source for true identity of actors unless the information can be corroborated elsewhere.