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"Think of these three things: whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account"--Benjamin Franklin

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Monday, September 25, 2006

A Cautionary Tale of When Blogging Becomes Perilous

So there I was simultaneously working and clearing my computer --don't ask me how, goddamit, I was doing it!;-)) -- when I came across old links that I had stored for viewing later. It came from a site I would classify as this side of "adult". The blog is --or at least was-- called "Creative Spanked Wife", which you can read here.

It re-counts the rather harrowing story of the blogger who came home to this:

Creative spanked wife closed due to blackmail. When I came home from Houston a few weeks ago I found a priority mail in my mail box outside along with the regular stuff that comes in. It came from Cleveland Ohio and right away felt wrong. It had a computer printed label but ordinary, ‘buy at the counter stamps,’ I opened it and discovered not just a recent photo of my home, but a blackmail letter. The letter was typical of the obsessed vitriol that has been the content of handful of truly hateful comments and e-mail.

"You are a blight – a toxic human being being filled with lies, cruelty, and deceit. And on July 21, this will end. Period.

Here is what you are going to do: On July 21 you are going to disappear from the internet. Completely. You will close your blog completely without comment and take it down completely. You will not discuss it with friends on the newsgroups or anyone else. You will not start another blog or visit another newsgroup, or publish a story. It will be as if you never existed.

I cover this area very completely everyday. If I get any indication in any way that you have continued as a presence on the internet, I will mail two packets."

"In those packets will be a complete printed out version of your blog. With explicit details about your alcoholism – how you faked a child’s death" … "collected money for it" …

This was what the blackmailer--stalker, if you ask me!--was threatening:
  • These blackmail mailings according to the blackmailer will ostensibly go to the CEO where I work, and also to the President and Chairman of the board of the corporation. In addition an ethics complaint will be called in, and I will be reported to IC3 – the internet crimes watchdog site.

  • This got me thinking about the necessity to connect to debates out there about the blogosphere and privacy: in one's attempt to be "real" and unique, you might just run up to people who have way TOO much time on their hands to scrutinize your life in detail, and seek to disturb your blogging life.

    The need for privacy is a given, but considering how cathartic blogging can be, how, then, do you consider experiencing a catharsis, without fearing that someone out there might be noting it down to use against you?

    I'd like to think that something like this only happens in the "West", where socities are always connected, but something tells me that, well, the danger cuts across cultures. In so many ways, also, it's interesting I should come across this some five weeks before a UN-sponsored discussion on Internet governance is taking place in Greece--home to one of my regular readers--Sissoula--who, whilst pregnant, has managed to effectuate a very decisive house-move:-) KUDOS!!!

    Hey, that's a Greek word innit?:-))

    tags: ; ;;;;;;

    PS If you have ever wondered what accounts for those long absences, it is a combination of rather heavy work-periods; coupled with time out for qualitative ideas for the blogs I maitain;-) Whilst you wonder, you might want to enjoy some pictures of my capital city here:


    At Friday, September 29, 2006 3:09:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'll say this, blogging has got me into plenty of trouble, with employers, friends and loved ones.

    It's a dangerous business.

    At Monday, October 02, 2006 5:39:00 am , Blogger sissoula said...

    It can be dangerous business, especially when you post dangerous things under a thinly veiled anonymity, or, as in the present case, none at all. (I assume you're using your real name -- which, as Daniel said, makes everything you've posted just a google search away from your colleagues, friends, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends... Aren't you concerned about this?) For most "personal" bloggers, the risk, the exposure -- the catharsis, as you say (now there's a nice Greek word!) -- is exactly the point.

    But that's not to say the more intrepid a blog is, the better.

    And it seems kind of pointless to talk about privacy if one uses one's blog as a means of giving it away. The blackmail and intimidation this woman faced certainly aren't justifiable, but she chose to throw caution to the wind; she should have expected some repercussions.

    P.S. Speaking of repercussions, you'll let us know when you're in Greece, right? And guess what -- I'm not pregnant anymore. :)


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