Blogging Safely?

The EFF posted an article on blogging anonymously and “safely” about work or anything else. It’s been getting traction all over Slashdot and CNN Money. I usually like what the EFF has to say about privacy, and typically wholeheartedly agree. However, this time, it makes me think of how backwards we really are as people. I’ll explain after I insert this quote

If you blog, there are no guarantees you’ll attract a readership of thousands. But at least a few readers will find your blog, and they may be the people you’d least want or expect. These include potential or current employers, coworkers, and professional colleagues; your neighbors; your spouse or partner; your family; and anyone else curious enough to type your name, email address or screen name into Google or Feedster and click a few links.

The point is that anyone can eventually find your blog if your real identity is tied to it in some way. And there may be consequences. Family members may be shocked or upset when they read your uncensored thoughts. A potential boss may think twice about hiring you. But these concerns shouldn’t stop you from writing. Instead, they should inspire you to keep your blog private, or accessible only to certain trusted people.

Here we offer a few simple precautions to help you maintain control of your personal privacy so that you can express yourself without facing unjust retaliation. If followed correctly, these protections can save you from embarrassment or just plain weirdness in front of your friends and coworkers.

Now honestly, if you’re blogging, most likely you shouldn’t be writing about things that others don’t know about you, don’t want to hear from you, or otherwise things that may put you into a position to face unwanted and “unjust retaliation”. The thing about blogging is, IT’S PUBLIC. If you don’t want your writings to be heard or viewed by the public, then don’t post them on the “World Wide Web”. The internet is where voices are heard. If you don’t want to be heard, don’t put it on the internet. Billions of people actually wrote in their private journals prior to the blogging craze.

The funny thing is that we think that simply because we write about our daily lives, that we think people want to listen to us. If you’re actually writing something novel and contributory to society (or your subculture therein), but you think you’re going to get flak from your friends, family, or co-workers, then go right ahead and be anonymous. Otherwise, either don’t write it (because it’s not novel or valuable) or else write it privately (because it’s your inner thoughts/emotions/passions/etc).

Here’s the other side of the coin. Step back for a moment and realize what the EFF just published. They are giving the population processes in which we can still be honest about our lives and perceptions. The unfortunate thing is, and the EFF is just pointing this out even more blatently than what we already know, that some of our family, friends, and co-workers are ready to dish out “retaliation” without hesitation. The simple cliche “What is this world coming to?” is in order at this point. If we are writing something novel and valuable, and we can’t even be honest about it without retribution, then we are seriously killing our own freedom of speech.

It’s not about the government killing our freedom of speech anymore, it’s our neighbors we are now worried about.

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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