Why Anonymous Blogging is Sometimes Essential

Filed in Delaware, International by on November 12, 2011

There are plenty of us in the blogosphere in various states of anonymity. Some are anonymous to protect their jobs. Some to lob potshots with impunity. But some people do it to protect their lives.

Lately, the Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel have been waging a war against bloggers in parts of Mexico. So far four people have been killed for using social media to communicate about the activities of the drug cartel, two by beheading.  Each of the dead have had a note attached to their bodies explaining that the reason that they were killed was for their social media activities.

“This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks,” advised a note left before dawn with the man’s body at a key intersection in the city’s wealthier neighborhood.

Luckily, this can’t happen here, right? Wrong. There have been attempts by some to reveal the identities of bloggers here and elsewhere. I was personally called by a crazy commenter from Alabama about a gun thread here a few years ago. There are always risks associated with facts and opinion in an open society and we mitigate those risks as much as we can.

It is this sort of thing that makes outing of contributors and commenters a bannable offense here at DL.

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  1. pandora says:

    I’ve been thinking about this topic – mainly because Delaware Politics always uses the call to post under your real name every time they’ve lost an argument. Which means they use it a lot.

    One commenter, Dave “I’ll post my email and phone number on every thread in the desperate hope someone will call me because I’m so very lonely” Jones refuses to respond to a commenter call Anonymous, but will respond to Don Nots. Let’s just say, given Don’s comments that that’s not his real name. He’ll also respond to “Dave” as if there’s a difference between anonymous and Dave.

    For most people, posting under your real name is a luxury, and one that I sometimes envy. I also have great respect for those who do it, mainly because it opens up the possibility for your blogging life to cross over into your personal life.

    But it’s not an option for everyone, and both choices should be respected.

  2. puck says:

    “Delaware Politics always uses the call to post under your real name ”

    In general the people who use their real names have a secure income, however modest, that cannot be taken away for their political views. Nobody ever got fired for supporting the agenda of the 1%.

  3. walt says:

    “Don’t let your mouth (blog) get you into a situation that your ass can’t back up”

  4. pandora says:

    I’m not even sure what Walt means. Perhaps he’s new to blogging? Is he saying that if a blogger says something that upsets someone, or someone disagrees with, then being outed is a suitable punishment? Or is he just a fortune cookie?

  5. cassandra m says:

    Delaware Politics always uses the call to post under your real name

    Because they want you to be available to their bullying. And working to out people is bullying.

    But using your anonymity to just tag this site (or any site) with BS — meaning that you aren’t here to join in the conversation — isn’t much better behavior and don’t be surprised if you are gone for that.

  6. Steve Newton says:

    In general the people who use their real names have a secure income, however modest, that cannot be taken away for their political views. Nobody ever got fired for supporting the agenda of the 1%.

    To some extent that’s true. I have academic tenure, which is some guarantee of freedom of expression that others probably don’t have. However, I can also get nailed by my employer is I am not careful never to imply that my views are those of DSU. Likewise, I choose in general not to criticize my own institution too severely in public, both because I hold a position of trust there (as a senior professor who often serves as a department head or director) and because as a union president I don’t want to put my members in a bad position.

    That having been said, I choose to live my life pretty transparently in blogging because I don’t intend to give into the fear that some whack job might try to take me out. I believe when we give into that, we lose something essential in a free society.

    On the other hand, pandora has a point. Posting purely anonymously will rarely get your views much attention or respect. Developing an internet “handle” is a different issue. Pretty much everyone in the DE blogosphere who is a part (however poorly defined) of the blogging community knows who jason330, or donviti, or kilroy, or mj really is. What the handle does is provide a minimal level of denial and/or security against casual intruders. Donviti’s boss is unlikely to know what his internet name is; a gun-toting crazy is unlikely to put in the time necessary to track down pandora or liberalgeek.

    It’s sort of like locking the door to your hotel room: it won’t deter a determined criminal, but it will stop the teenagers walking down the hall turning knobs for the hell of it.

  7. pandora says:

    I agree, Steve. Let me add that one’s family (spouse’s job, children at school) must be considered… at least until blogging pays the rent. :-)

  8. Aoine says:

    Once one has been the target of the crazies however, there isnt enought money in the universe to compensate for that

    trust me, I know that one first hand, like liberalgeek does, and it wasn’t for bloggin either.

    there is simply nothing like having a complete stranger (taller, bigger and more scary-looking) come up to you and start ripping into you, while they are looking down at you…for something you stated in an article, that happened to be factual and truthful. The person in question just didn;t happen to agree – which is fine, the not agree part – the rest was awful.

    but typically, folks dont seek one out like that and begin to excoriate them and then threaten and throw some generally reprehensible comments out along with everything else

    Like the in everything else, its the 1% that make life miserable for the rest of the 99%

  9. Dave says:

    Yeah but Dave (David) is actually my real first name. Of course the only reason I use that is that I am not creative enough to come up with something cool like “Pandora”

  10. Geezer says:

    According to Howmanyofme.com, there are 3,701,255 people in the U.S. with the first name David. It is the 7th most popular first name.

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