For whatever reason someone has to write a blog, the subject or topics may be controversial or the blogger wants their content to speak for itself. Other bloggers are concerned for their own safety, and don’t want online users to be able to access their private information offline. For these reasons, many bloggers have preferred to keep their name and identity a secret. Should you keep your identity a secret on your blog? There are several benefits and drawbacks to blogging anonymously, such as: [Read more…]
But while both are similar in that they are ways to punish or discourage unwanted behavior, they are radically different in both what they are and how they operate.
As a blogger, you find yourself operating in a variety of societies. This includes traditional ones such as your local community, your country and the world as a whole as well as digital ones such as the blogging community and the Internet community.
This has some fairly profound implications for the laws and ethics you have to wrangle with as you’re not only caught between the duality of the two elements themselves, but in the layers of often conflicting standards of all the societies you reach and are a part of.
To unravel this mess, we have to first take a look at the differences between law and ethics and understand how they each impact bloggers in slightly different, but very powerful, ways. [Read more…]
Whenever I talk with others about the legal risks that come with blogging, it is inevitable that someone says that the risks don’t apply to them as they blog anonymously and no one will ever know who they are.
The truth is that, while anonymous blogging may be great for certain purposes, it isn’t a bullet proof vest that lets you do dumb things legally without fear of reprisal. Even if you can bring together a perfectly anonymous site, you have to be flawless in your execution of it ensuring that every single interaction, no matter how small, is untraceable.
While anonymous or pseudonymous blogging might be good enough to fool your mother, your boss or your friends, it won’t be enough to fool law enforcement nor anyone with adequate motivation and resources to track you down.
Anonymous blogging may free you up to say things you otherwise couldn’t, but it doesn’t free you up to break the law. Basically, if you’re blogging under a different name, you should expect to be found out if you make it interesting enough for anyone to seek out your information.
In “The Outing of a Blogger: Social Transparency or Violation?” and “The Outing of a Blogger: Is it Legal to Reveal a Blogger?” I’ve covered some of the issues around the outing of an Alaskan blogger by a local politician and the legality of such actions.
There have been a variety of blogger outings lately, some with positive outcomes. Fake Steve Jobs Blogger, Daniel Lyons, admitted that he was stunned that it took so long to be uncovered, enjoying the attention. For Lyons, his blatant lampooning of Steve Jobs turned into a career booster. Lyons expected to be found out. Most anonymous bloggers worry they will be.
One of the greatest things about blogging is the freedom and ability to have your say, no matter what it is. One of the greatest fears is being found out.
Many bloggers live in fear of being found out, some at the risk of their lives. Others fear that their right to express themselves without persecution, even of the social kind, will be taken away by exposure. For those who blog anonymously, the law is one issue, but the social stigma is a bigger one. [Read more…]
In “The Outing of a Blogger: Social Transparency or Violation?” I started this short series on the outing of a popular Alaska personal blogger, Mudflats (aka AKMuckraker or AKM), unveiled by a state politician.
The question I want to tackle in this article is the issue of the legality of blogger anonymity and what protects bloggers and not. This is a huge topic, so I’m only going to scratch the surface.
In many countries, there are no laws protecting freedom of speech nor journalists or bloggers. There may be protections for journalists, but none for bloggers. In countries where you would expect there to be such laws…it’s amazing how few there are and how flexible those laws can be.
Does a blogger have the right to privacy and anonymity? What rights do others have to expose them and why? [Read more…]
We live in an age of transparency. I’d say that “transparency” should have been the word of the year last year, and it’s popularity as a buzz word this year continues. It pops up in most news reports, demanding transparency from banks and financial institutions, politicians, governments, corporations, and individuals.
It also litters our social media interaction. We want our online social interchanges to be with real people who want to know us as real people. We want people leaving comments on our blogs to have names. We want folks on Twitter to have real names, not CD Handles and cute nicknames or keywords. So is it okay to be anonymous any more?
Over the years, there as been an ongoing debate about anonymous bloggers as more and more people take to the Information Highway to have their say. For some, anonymity is a matter of life or death. For others, it’s just wiser. But it isn’t for everyone.
Some use a pseudonym, similar to what writers and artists have been doing for many years, either for protection and security, or because their real name, Hildibob Slibbervitzenson, just isn’t “writerly” or “artistic.” Would women have swooned over Archie Leach? Sang the memorable songs of Barry Alan Pinkus, or sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody with Farrokh Bulsara? Or believed in the sung words of Robert Allen Zimmerman with such fervor? Would Moses have been so memorable if played by John Charles Carter? Would the sexy pottery scene in “Ghost” have been so memorable if performed by Demetria Gene Guynes? Replaces those real names with their pseudonyms of Cary Grant, Barry Manilow, Freddy Mercury, Bob Dylan, Charlton Heston, and Demi Moore and everything changes.
There are many people who blog under a pseudonym without condemnation, but there are still those who choose to publicly blog anonymously. They use CD Handle style names, making a visible statement about their need to be private and choosing to hide behind a masked name while not hiding their opinion.
And there continues to be a witch hunt on to out them when their opinion doesn’t agree with the government or politicians. [Read more…]