April 13, 2005 6:15 PM PDT

Blog censorship gains support

Most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals, according to a new survey.

Web hosting company Hostway this week released the results of its poll of 2,500 Americans on blogging. Eighty percent of respondents did not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens.

A further 72 percent favored censorship of personal information about celebrities, and 68 percent, information about elected or appointed government officials such as judges or mayors.

However, more than one-third of respondents had never heard of blogs before participating in the survey, and only around 30 percent of participants had actually visited a blog themselves.

While Americans were concerned about free speech, the survey revealed more moderate attitudes when it compared bloggers to journalists.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said bloggers should have the same rights as traditional journalists, while 27 percent did not express an opinion. Free speech rights are protected under the first amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.

Despite the fact most respondents classed bloggers in the same category as journalists when it came to free speech, the survey revealed bloggers are not taken as seriously as traditional media. For example, 39 percent said they found blogs less credible than newspaper articles, although an additional 32 percent said they either did not know or had no opinion.

The survey also tapped into patterns of blog usage, revealing most people used blogs to obtain information about politics or current events. This news may not come as a surprise to U.S. political bloggers, who recently mobilized against a move by the country's Federal Election Commission that would have imposed harsh rules on the blogging community.

The FEC is in the process of extending campaign finance rules to the Internet--a process that involves, among other things, deciding if bloggers qualify as journalists.

Opinions were split on official company blogs, which have been in the news due to the high-profile sacking of Google employee Mark Jen, who claimed he was fired for blogging about the company just 11 days after he started working there.

In contrast to Google, many prominent companies officially support the blogging efforts of their employees. Sun Microsystems and Microsoft in particular are noted for their company blogs. While a majority of survey respondents agreed it was acceptable for a company to censor what appeared in the blogs of its employees, almost half said it wasn't acceptable to fire a worker for a controversial posting. And only a quarter of respondents supported the company's right to do so.

Renai LeMay of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

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Blog Meme
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.realmeme.com/miner/preinflection.php?startup=/miner/preinflection/blogDejanews.png" target="_newWindow">http://www.realmeme.com/miner/preinflection.php?startup=/miner/preinflection/blogDejanews.png</a>

Rate of growth in the blog meme is still increasing. It's not surprising that only 30% of polled Americans have visited a blog.

One characteristic of pre-inflection (still growing) memes is that they are still under a 50% exposure rate to the general population.

Based on the 30% figure and current rate of growth, we should see a flurry of bloggin articles and controversy over the next six months as the meme peaks.
Posted by Broward Horne (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Devil is in the Details ...
There is no right to privacy of publicly available information, period! The question is the intent behind posting such public information. A blogger for example may be interested in starting a letter campaign to convince the recipient to change their view point or opinion on a matter. Suppose you and fellow campaigners want to write Bill Gates and convince him of the virtues of open source operating system. Where is the harm in this? Conversely, a blog with public information could be used to intimidate a person. Suppose someone is demonizing a person, and suggests that his audience "take action" against a person, and list this individuals home address, work address, car description, and where their kids go to school, and have pictures of them. The publication of such information in that instance is more sinister and may solely be intended to incite harassment and threats of violence.

Most employees are "at will" which means they can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all. An "at will" employee does not have a property interest in their job! The policy rationale behind the "at will" doctrine whether you like it or not is that the employer's confidence in the workforce overrides individual interests. An employer's confidence is undermind when an employee posts non-public information regardless whether that information is favorable or not. Do you as individual like it when a colleague of yours talks behind your back? Why should an employer feel any different? This matter doesn't necessarily require policies in employee handbook -- common sense applies. If in doubt, ask your boss or your HR whether they mind if you write about them in your blog.

A blog IS NOT a personal journal! It is a publication open to the rest of the world not unlike a newspaper. Generally speaking, there's nothing wrong about posting your personal opinions and non identifying information. The more specific and identifying your blog is, the more scrutiny it will receive.
Posted by Konrad (15 comments )
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both parties are too extreme
You'll never be able to hold bloggers accountable to newspaper standards for what they write in their blogs. So people should stop reading them as a source of meaningful information. They are nothing more than the authors own rantings.

The people who are in favor of blog censorship should get a thicker skin and just deal with it. That being said, I think it is quite reasonable to prohibit the posting of personal information, location, addresses or phone numbers, unless it's merely a link to a public source of this information.

You can't blame the blog censor supporters. This is merely a reaction to the vitriolic blogging that's been going on. Some bloggers posts are things that they'd never even say in public. The bloggers need to grow up and realize that they are writing to a public space, and to do so responsibily.

All of the above is IMHO.
Posted by InetUser (28 comments )
Link Flag
It's not about censorship
The issue shouldn't be about censorship. I'll take tact and decency over censorship any day. I don't frequent blogs for one simple reason: a vast majority of them are written by raving lunatics with agendas to push. I'm not interested in agendas, I'm interested in facts. If I have to cut through your spin to get to a decent point, you aren't worth my time. Period. I don't care what it is you've got to say.

Censoring information is wrong. There needs to be an emphasis on "blogistic integrity," which is something that's horribly lacking in the blogosphere. But what can you expect from a world where smear campaigns, character assassination, and fact fabrication are the accepted norm?
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
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Waste of time.
Blogs could not be censored if they wanted to. There are far too many and they come and go so fast no one can keep up with them. Besides, as soon as we figured out how to track them so they could be sencored, the public will realize that it just a bunch of opinions from people who have no clue anyway. It's a fad, it will die. It won't affect enough people to waste time discussing it in any government forum. Let's discuss fixing health care or Social Security instead.
Posted by TheMidnightCoder (61 comments )
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Censorship Black Writer's
Peace be unto you,

AOL has blocked my Journal. I recently received several Hate messages from White Supremacists etc. I reported this to AOL however AOL has now informed me that they have received over 30 complaints against my Journal thus I can no longer send out my Journal in a bulk form.

So instead of email time of 45 minutes it would now take me 6-8 hours. Meanwhile this problem has been going on for years. People Black and White have complained to AOL in the hopes of having my Journal removed. As you know we have experienced Censorship for over 30 years.

The FreedomJournal will never die. But we will now have to regroup. Is AOL a White Supremacist Internet Service Provider? With all the filth on the Internet why would they want to Censor the FreedomJournal?


FREEDOMJOURNAL ARCHIVES

Greetings my Beloved Brethren:

Peace be unto you. I am so grateful for your various messages regarding the FreedomJournal. Rest assured we appreciate each and every response.

However we have no control of who a particular List Moderator posts our messages to. For example one of our beloved brothers objects to our research but he is not on our list. I trust that the list moderator will remove him and that he will be satisfied with not receiving messages from the FreedomJournal.

LET IT BE WRITTEN THAT THE FREEDOMJOURNAL AND CARL PATTON WILL NEVER CEASE FROM PRAISING GOD. THOSE THAT OBJECT ARE LOST AND HELL BOUND. WE ALSO DECLARE THAT MANY ARE IGNORANT AND LOCKED ON STUPID. BECAUSE WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD ONES DATA BASE IS LIMITED AND SHALLOW.

On a further note we declare that one cannot clearly understand the period of Slavery and the wretched Black Experience in American and throughout the Diaspora without an understanding of Christianity and the history of the Church.

For the record we are Censored and Banned throughout the world and in Cyberspace. Therefore it is not unusual for us to receive threats etc. We have also been removed from many Lists on the Internet. See our Web Pages for many of the most vocal and vicious Censors.

In addition the record shows that those that have sought to object to our work in an aggressive manner have entered the ranks of Censors. Thus our report continues to expose those that are Traitors, Uncle Toms and Charlatans in the Black community.

The idea of Free Expression and Free Speech is a part of the Divine Creation. However man even when he has laws that protects that right still seeks to abuse those he does not agree with. Also for those that have Censored the book Big Ralph. We note the evidence of Big Ralph at the end of our posts to let the world know that it is the most Censored book in American history. THIS IS NOT A MARKETING TOOL BECAUSE WE DON'T SELL ANY.

Remember Brethren we love the Black community even those that are dumb , stupid and blind.
Peace and Love,
Carl Patton, FreedomJournal
Also see other pages from the FreedomJournal

Censorship: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://home.joimail.com/~carlpatton/" target="_newWindow">http://home.joimail.com/~carlpatton/</a>

The Black Preacher: The Shame of the Ministry

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://home.joimail.com/~carlpatton/shameblackpreacher/" target="_newWindow">http://home.joimail.com/~carlpatton/shameblackpreacher/</a>
Posted by FreedomJournal (2 comments )
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Omission of truth is what society faces; censorship affects media, politics, and education- censorship tunes out vital information about society. Literature curriculums, especially, suffer from the hands of censorship. Containing important issues about society, pieces of literature such as The Awakening, consistently face censorship; censorship ensures that the "whole-truth" remains hidden, while only parts of the truth divulge into society.
Because parents worry about exposing their children to literature involving issues of discrimination, sex, and violence, censorship comes into play in literature curriculums. However, parents fail to realize that censoring literature inflicts harm upon their children because censorship stunts the student's ability to understand societal issues (Associated Content): literature inculcates societal issues that have existed throughout time, allowing the student to understand the issues, form a perspective, and apply it to their writing.
The Awakening, for example, epitomizes the restriction of freedom that women face, seeing how the main character Edna typified an asset that required no freedom in the eyes of her husband and society. Symbolizing the severe actions taken by women to gain their freedom, Edna eventually leaves her house, ending the marriage. Although the novel was written in the late 1800's, the issues mentioned by the book remain prevalent: women feel the pressures of a male-dominated society, as they are still stereotyped as the "inferior sex" and lack freedoms such as fighting for their nation. The Awakening allows people to realize the position that women faced. By censoring The Awakening, such as when the novel was after publication (Niss), the impact of the novel diminishes, and students' comprehension of the entire situation diminishes equally, negatively affecting the students' learning outcome.
Censorship even limits our rights as citizens. Reducing the amount of literature available to students violates the 1st amendment, seeing how it robs students from choosing literature they read in their free time (Associated Content). Board of Education, Island Trees union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico exemplified such a violation, where the students sued their school claiming "the removal of books from the school library violated their guarantee of free speech" (Goldman): the conclusion came that censoring books actually violates the first amendment.
Not only does censorship go against our constitution, but it imposes restrictions upon what students read, which pushes students' motivation further back (Associated Content). Less motivation leads to less education-the purpose of any school is didacticism. Censorship clearly goes against the purpose of schooling by cleverly depriving students of their motivation.
Censorship represents the demise and burden that will bring students down. This burden prevents students from reaching their maximum competence and robs them from their freedom of speech and expression. This burden leads to a lack of motivation and passion in learning. Censoring novels such as The Awakening will diminish the impact that Chopin so desperately tries to convey to society-censorship will ensure that these same problems will occur, as students will fail to impose their opinions about these issues in both verbal and written manners, thereby failing to resolve these conflicts. Suppressing the truth will never allow society to progress.

Works Cited
"Censorship." Associated Content. 11 May 2009. Associated Content, Web. 12 Dec2009.<http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1715279/censorship_the_negative_effects_parents.html?cat=47>.
Goldman, Jerry. "Board of Education v. Pico." Oyez. 2008. Oyez, Web. 12 Dec 2009. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_80_2043/>.
Niss, Mindie. "The Awakening." Classic Literature. 2009. New York Times, Web. 12 Dec 2009. <http://classiclit.about.com/od/awakeningthe/fr/aa_awakening.htm>.
Posted by Pat3L92- (1 comment )
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