HOW TO PROTECT YOUR REAL IDENTITY WHILE WRITING REVIEWS ON AMAZON
Many ex-cult members, such as ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, use pseudonyms online to protect their identity. To use one’s real name puts one at serious risk of suffering the punishments and retributions meted out by the JW cult for daring to leave – namely shaming, public humiliation, shunning and being cut off from our family. I have some sweet relationships online with amazing people whose true identity is unknown to me. We, of course, take the measures we have to take, to keep our families intact.
Recently, I’ve had a few messages from readers of my books saying how much they enjoyed the books and that they wish they could leave reviews on Amazon but their Amazon account uses their real name and they cannot risk being spotted by Jehovah’s Witnesses who would report them to the JW organization. The consequences would be too drastic and ones they cannot risk. I agree with and totally understand the need to hide one’s identity and protect one’s family, as a newly exited JW in public forums.
However, it is also true that reviews on books about the struggles of being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, leaving once awakened, and recovering after exiting, can really help those still in the cult, with one foot still in the cult, or now free of the cult, to make a decision as to whether or not to procure a book that has the potential to change their life. Such people are still very cautious and afraid of anything that could qualify (in JW terms) as “apostate material“, and need reassurance that books written by ex-JWs are not “demonic“, over the top, but are reasonable, measured, fair, informative, helpful reads.
If you have purchased and read books such as mine, and would like to leave reviews to encourage people who are unsure whether they should take the leap or not – and feel you cannot do so because your Amazon account is under your real name – think again.
Amazon provides a way to temporarily change your public profile on Amazon, while still retaining your current account identity which probably matches the name on your credit card. Many of you must know how to change your profile already, because I see pseudonyms used to write reviews for many ex-JW books. If you don’t know how to change your public profile to use pseudonyms such as “Anonymous” or “Twenty Trees” or “Can’t Stop Reading”, or “L.M.N.” – whatever – I will outline how to do so below.
I just tested what I am going to show you, and it works. One proviso, it is only fair to the author, to the readers of the review, and to Amazon that you write reviews about books you have actually read.
How to change your public profile to write a review with a pseudonym on Amazon:
- Go to the Amazon page for the book you want to review, e.g. “The Challenge to Heal”.
- Scroll down past “Frequently Bought Together”> “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”> “Editorial Reviews”> “About the Author”> “Product Details”> to “Customer Reviews”.
- To the right of the graph bars showing star ratings, there is a grey box that says “Write a customer review”. Click on that box.
(Note: On the screen shot of a real review above, the review is written by someone using the pseudonym “Amazon Customer”.)
4. The page where you will write your review will open. On that page, in the upper right hand corner you will see your Amazon account name, with the words “YOUR PUBLIC NAME” underneath. Click on “YOUR PUBLIC NAME”. A box will open with your current name. Delete your current name and type in the pseudonym you wish to use to write your review. (Make sure you choose something that none of your JW family and friends can somehow link back to you.) Click “Done” in the yellow box.
5. Type your review into the box provided. Click on the star for the rating you wish to give the book, and type in a “title” for your review. Click “Submit”.
(After testing this and not yet having changed my “public name” back to my real name, I received an immediate email from Amazon.com to my real name Gmail account, thanking me for submitting a review. This is proof that using a pseudonym does not delete your true identity account settings on Amazon.)
- If, after writing the review, you no longer want to use the pseudonym just created, you can go back up to the right hand corner on the “Your Reviews” page and click again on “YOUR PUBLIC NAME” and change your name back to what you originally had.
I am hoping that some of you who have read my books, but have felt you could not review and reveal your identity, will now see a way to leave a review and help future readers make a decision that could help them leave the cult and/or recover after leaving.