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September 23, 2011

Blogging, Privacy and the New Facebook

Over the course of this column, we’ve talked a great deal about privacy, both legally and ethically, and how it intersects with blogging. We’ve looked at the problems with anonymous blogging, privacy and email and even some of the false privacy-related legal threats a blogger might face.

However, privacy is a very thorny issue, even more so than most areas of law online. The reason is that much of what we think of as privacy law is actually decided on a state level, meaning in the U.S. alone there is effectively 50 interpretations of privacy law. This says nothing, obviously, about the international implications.

But privacy issue for bloggers is about to get a lot thornier than even that, or at least a lot more visible. At its F8 conference, Facebook announced a new API that is going to make it easier for people to share more things with their Facebook friends, including sharing things that they did not decide, at least on an individual level, to put out there.

Combine this with its already-promised new buttons for websites, including “read”. “watch”, etc. and it’s easy to see how the issue of privacy will likely be brought into focus again for bloggers.

So, no matter what you think of the new Facebook features and tools, it’s important to be aware of the potential legal and ethical implications of using them and, to that end, it’s worth taking another look at privacy. read more

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August 31, 2011

Blogger Finally Gets Design Improvements, Better Editing System

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Blogger Screenshot

Google on Wednesday revealed massive changes to their Blogger system, including a new design and a much improved editing system. The announcement marks the first time in years that the company has released a major update to their blogging system.

Users willing to try out the new system should receive a pop-up announcement starting today when they log into their blogger accounts.

According to the company the new system is meant to look more like Google’s current aesthetic, while providing a simplified post editor that offers more features to keep users posting on the rather archaic blog platform.

The company has also announced a new “Overview” section which allows users to view recent traffic and blog comments for their Blogger based accounts.

According to Blogger Product Manager Chang Kim: read more

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Tumblr Surpasses 13 Million Monthly Unique Visitors In U.S.

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Tumblr ScreenshotBlogging service Tumblr on Tuesday announced a new record number of unique visitors for a single month. According to site officials Tumblr scored 13.4 million unique visitors in the U.S. during the month of July.

If those numbers are correct that would mean a 218% increase in site visitors based on the same period one year earlier.

Analytic information firm comScore also shows that Tumblr has seen their most massive increase since inception from April to July where visitor counts increased by more than 5 million monthly uniques. read more

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August 26, 2011

5 Responsibilities You Have as a Community Admin

Image of CommunityAs a blogger, you are more than just an author and content creator, you are also a community administrator, managing and encouraging interaction between your readers and visitors.

Though much of this community interaction you can’t control, namely all of the conversation that happens off your site (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.), a lot of it does take place directly under your purview, including comments on your site, conversation on your Facebook page and so forth.

To be a successful blogger, you need a good community to survive and thrive. However, running a community also comes with a series of responsibilities, both ethical and legal, that you need to be aware of.

Simply put, being a community admin is far more than having a comment box open on your site and letting others post. There’s actually a great deal more to it, especially if you want to have a community that is both productive and on the right side of the law. read more

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August 19, 2011

What To Do If You Get a Legal Threat Online

Threat PosterThe Internet, for better or worse, is the largest meeting place to have ever existed in history. It’s a place where millions of people, from all backgrounds, can get together and exchange ideas, news, artwork and pictures of cats.

However, it’s inevitable that, with so many people in one “place” that there are going to be disagreements and some of them are going to get quite heated. Just as you don’t always get along with your “real world” neighbors you probably won’t get along with some of your virtual ones either and, also like physical world problems, virtual world ones also, at times, disintegrate into legal disputes.

So, if you blog long enough, especially if you routinely discuss or use work from other people on your site, there’s a chance that you’re going to be the subject of a legal threat.

For the unprepared, this can be one of the most terrifying experiences one can have online. Such threats often come with fears big legal bills, huge settlements and more. It’s pretty easy to paint a worst-case scenario that is either unrealistic or completely impossible.

Still, these are matters that should be taken seriously and knowing what to do is important. Though I’m not a lawyer and certainly can’t provide legal advice, there are steps that most attorneys advise you to take and I’ve outlined them below. read more

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August 15, 2011

Why Blogging Can Relieve Stress

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I have always loved to read. This was because as a kid my grandmother would read me a fairytale every night. This was a nightly ritual that had to be followed or else I wouldn’t go to sleep. Whenever my family would go to the mall my mother would take me to the bookstore. With my love affair for books it’s no wonder I learned to love writing as well. In high school I used to keep a journal. At the end of each day I would narrate what happened on it. But I usually kept my entries short. As much as I enjoyed writing, doing it by hand can be tiring.

It was in college when I discovered the art of blogging. I was surfing online when I stumbled across a food blog. I realized it was something that I could do as well. So I decided to try it. I blogged for a month and I loved it! Blogging is not only fun it’s a great stress reliever as well.

Here are 3 reasons why blogging can relieve stress. read more

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July 22, 2011

The Difference Between Law & Ethics in Blogging

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Dogs on Leash LawSocieties generally have two ways that they try to encourage “positive” or “good” behavior on its members, laws and ethics.

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

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July 1, 2011

The Problems with Anonymous Blogging

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.

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June 20, 2011

5 False Legal Threats Bloggers Routinely Face

Legally, blogging can be a very scary activity. Since few bloggers are acquainted with media law before setting up their first site, they are dealing with issues of trademark, copyright, libel, privacy, etc. when they have little understanding of the law itself.

This, often times, creates problems where a blogger oversteps a legal boundary and finds themselves either being sued or threatened with legal action. However, it also can create the reverse problem, one where the blogger is threatened with legal action when they haven’t done anything against the law.

To be clear, in the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for any reason at any time. If your sole purpose is to avoid a lawsuit, being within the law is, unfortunately, no protection. There’s always a chance you could have to spend the time and money to defend yourself in court.

However, if you have a more practical goal of not being hit with a lawsuit that has a chance of success, you still don’t want to give in needlessly to false legal threats. With that in mind, here are five of the more common false legal threats that bloggers face and why they carry no weight. read more

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June 2, 2011

Using Ovi App Wizard to turn your blog into an app

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Despite reporting a hefty drop in sales because of stiff competition in the smartphone market, Nokia is still the world’s largest cellphone maker by volume.

With more than a third of cell phones in the world being Nokia and a sizable chunk of those units being enabled for mobile internet, it would stand to reason that there could still be a huge audience for blogs that remains untapped.

But downloading blogs on what is essentially still a cellphone could lead to a number of frustrating consequences.  With either the phone’s browser failing to download the site correctly or not being able to download the site in a readable form.

The solution to tapping this roaming audience of mobile internet users is to create a mobile app.

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