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Blogging and accountability

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday July 20, 2006 )

Ah, a keyboard, a blog, half a dozen whiskeys. It’s a recipe for disaster for many bloggers in relation to their employment – and sometimes the whiskey isn’t even required :)

More than one excitable, fire-breathing blogger has wound up looking for another job because of their online public mutterings about their bosses.

I was just reading a story about a blogger who was recently fired for comments purportedly made in her blog regarding the company she worked for. She is now sueing the employer for a couple of years pay.


I always find it very amusing that in this day and age where we seem to be constantly screaming at governments about freedom of speech, we are so quick to whine about being made accountable for what we say when we exercise that privilege. I think it should be understood that with any privilege comes burden; it’s not a free gift. Don’t we teach our children that? Or did that stop doing so with the introduction of broadband?

It seems to me that generally speaking, we don’t actually want freedom of speech, we want freedom from responsibility. We want to be able to hang crap on whomever we please, do whatever we want and expect that there will be no repercussions.

I’m all for freedom of speech; I love the fact I can tap away here and post up whatever I like; but I also understand that it does carry a lot of responsibility.

For those in the blogging fraternity who are considered authorities in their fields or have a large following, it’s a privilege and an honor to have that status; not one to be taken lightly. Given that the power of the medium to shape people’s opinions and views; extra care needs to be taken in expressing what spills forth from creative, but sometimes fevered minds :).

Many people’s lives and companies have been unfairly negatively affected by comments made by bloggers who have a large following – we all really need to *think* through the possible consequences of what we write before hitting that post button – not just for us, but for the sakes of those whom we are writing about. It’s about being human.

Sure, it’s a dog eat dog world; but I think we’re meant to be a little further up the evolutionary ladder than our canine companions.

The term “new media” means much more to me than technology – I see it also as an opportunity for all of us to step away from the steaming, stinking pile that makes up the more trashy element of “traditional media”.

My fear is that human evolution has been nowhere near as rapid as the evolution of our technology. In fact, I feel the focus on technology and it’s associated level of anonymity has seen such wonderful human traits such as compassion, diplomacy, consideration, conflict resolution and discretion rapidly erode.

What are your thoughts – do you feel that bloggers should be allowed to harangue others with impunity, or do you think that if we’re slandering someone else, then we should be fair game for any legal consequences that result from it?


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