HOWTO: Survive a Media Mole Hunt

The Media Mole Rodeo is in full effect — underappreciated media workers, keep sending your stories of frustrated angst to mole@gawker.com. Meanwhile, at the prudent suggestion of our friends at Consumerist, we decided to cobble together a short primer on how to tip without getting burned. After all, much as we want your secret knowledge, we'd hate to see anyone get canned. After the jump, a few simple precautions for the uninitiated on leaking like a pro while still drawing that hott but very low five-figure media salary.

We will keep you as anonymous as possible unless directed otherwise. This includes stripping your name and header information (time of email etc.) out of any emails we reproduce. However, that's just what happens on our end of things.

Do not send tips from your work email. You'd be surprised how many people, lord love 'em, still send tips right from their work email account. Now granted, the vast majority of tipsters will never be subjected to the kind of internal scrutiny that would make this a problem. However, if you do send us something, and we do run it, then even our stringent attempts at preserving your anonymity may fail if your bosses just look for anything sent to tips@gawker.com.

Forward work emails off-site before sending to Gawker. Send those emails from work to a third-party free/anonymous email account, such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. We recommend Gmail for nefarious chicanery like this, as it typically doesn't include information in your emails that can be traced back to your employer IP address or other such technical mysteries. This works particularly well if you want to remain anonymous even to us.

Forward multiple work emails to your off-site account as a diversion. Even if your employers can't precisely prove that you sent something to Gawker, if you forwarded only the one troublesome work email to your off-site account, it's gonna look a lil' suspicious. Therefore, forward a raft of innocuous other emails, before and after the naughty email(s). That way, you can innocently pretend that you just forward emails to your free account as a matter of course, as reminders or for later review.

Forward emails to Gawker while using a non-work computer. Even if you follow all of the above precautions, a truly paranoid employer might have employees under surveillance by means of extensive web logging or even keystroke logging. Thus, even though you processed a naughty email through Gmail, they can check your actual computer to figure out what evils you've perpetrated. So once the naughty email is in your Gmail account, perform the actual forward to Gawker while on a home computer or other non-work machine. This level of self-terror is hardly ever necessary, but keep it in mind should your office have a mole hunt already underway.

Instant messaging ain't what it used to be. Until relatively recently, IMming was sorta below the radar of corporate paranoia, meaning that you could get away with passing classified info that way. Among the secretive, that security hole has pretty much been plugged. IM monitors or keystroke loggers can reproduce anything sent this way from your workplace, so in general, don't use 'em.

If investigated, do not cooperate. Deny, deny, deny! And keep sending out tips. In almost every case, the hunting and/or firing of a mole is the product of a particular VIP's rage, and the more outside attention they get, the more ridiculous they look. Once cooler heads prevail and realize there really is such a thing as bad publicity, the hunt will die down. At least overtly — but you can guarantee that once a mole is detected, predatory behavior will commence on the part of internal tech/security goons. Be cautious, but be strong. Tawdry picayune personal gossip wants to be free!

Earlier: Announcing the Media Mole Rodeo