Friend Friday: Privacy in the Blogosphere

Over the last four years I’ve been blogging, I’ve struggled with whether I should remain cloaked in anonymity, or if “coming out” on my blog was the right thing to do. Obviously, I chose the latter; it’s a calculated risk, but also me accepting responsibility for my wordsβ€”whether I’m being praised or chastised.Β  So that’s what we’re talking about for Friend Friday* this week: privacy and the role it plays in blogging.

We were asked:

  1. Do you think privacy is something we should worry about as bloggers?
  2. Do you use your real name or a pen name? What was behind that decision?
  3. How much personal information do you reveal about your life beyond the blog?
  4. What will you never reveal?
  5. As bloggers, we have to an extent made ourselves ‘public’ figures. But still there are things that are intimate to each of us that does not need to be known by anyone that stumbles across our blog. How do you determine what is appropriate for public consumption and what is private to you?

What I neglected to mention: I’d never, ever join Foursquare or allow geo-location of Tweets. That is just nuts. I don’t think it’s safe for bloggers to reveal their exact whereabouts.

*The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Katy of Modly Chic sends us questions weekly, and we answer on our blogs.

65 comments

  1. I think it’s a great idea to not mention names of personal friends (or co-workers!) on the blog. I only really mention names of my friends who also have blogs and don’t mind the mention.

  2. Hey V, great post as usual! I am really enjoying your weekly videos. πŸ™‚ I really look forward to reading your reader’s discussion on this topic as I think it’s something every blogger needs to think about.

    I think we both had the same starting out for our blogs. I started out blogging “anonymous” (the only thing people knew about me was that I am female and my name is Renee) and then about a year after I started to reveal where I was from and eventually had enough confidence to put photos up! My blog is mainly about beauty and lifestyle, but I will write semi-personal anecdotes and experiences if it has to do with what I’m talking about, but other than that I try to keep everything private. My general ‘rule’ is that I’ll talk about as much as I’ll tell someone I just met; meaning I’d say general stuff but nothing too in-depth. It’s quite hard, though, with all the various social sites and especially Twitter!

    Have a great weekend,
    Renee

    1. Aw, Renee, you’re a doll. Sounds like you have a great grasp on your blog direction and your privacy. That seriously is half the battle.

  3. I enjoyed listening to your views about the Privacy Issues. I mostly agree with you. Everyone needs to set their own parameters as to what they wish to disclose and what not. Sometimes I do mention people from my life [but only with their prior permission] or if it’s is something positive that I am discussing and they happened to have made an positive of inspiring impact, then obviously they do not mind. Most parts, I do not write their names and just their Initials or give them names. But you wld be surprised as to how many people ‘wish’ to be featured on my blog [from my personal life] … but yeah I agree with you that we do not need to mention our location or our daily life errands on minute to minute basis. No one is interesting in that!. Phew. This has been a longggg comment. Sorry to take so much space. But this was an interesting topic.

    1. Hmmm…see, that is something I don’t deal with, because my blog is not really read by people who know me. But if people don’t mind the exposure and get a kick out of a mention, fair enough.

      And Tanvi, sweetie, take all the room you need. This is a conversation. I want to hear your thoughts!

  4. I too struggled with the anonmity of being a blogger. I am a pretty private person but at the same time I felt like I need to put myself out there….. It started with just pictures of other people and things I found interesting, and then I started to blog about having a bad day and things that bothered me. I found maybe other people could relate in some way… who knows πŸ™‚

    1. I agree that there are people that can relate. And how apropo that your latest post is “Duct Tape My Mouth Shut Please.” Love it. But seriously, beware the short, bald Greek, especially one who hails from NY. Not that you’d seriously entertain it. But that has shifty written all over it.

  5. Great post! The privacy thing has always been a hot topic for me personally. When I started blogging, I had to be really careful about it, as it was a conflict of interest with employer at the time. I still struggle with how open I should be. I really admire the Love Maegans of the world who are willing to put just about every bit of themselves out there, but at the same time, I know I would feel uncomfortable putting out that much info. It’s really interesting to hear your opinion and experiences on this subject. Have a fantastic weekend V!
    XO Piper

    1. My lovely Piper, thank you sweetie! I think a bit of mystery is good. I practice that even in marriage. No one but me needs to know (or witness) my every deed or thought. Stay well, doll!

  6. I agree with your take on privacy. If someone is out to find info, they certainly can… but I’m not going to make it easy for them. I experimented with location check-in programs, but I think I’ll be stopping that for twitter public use. Great Friend Friday video – well-spoken, succinct, poised, informative. You are a class act!
    Metsy

    1. Metsy, so with you, hon. It’s out there, but I ain’t drawing a map, you know? Thanks for your sweet comment, I am so honored.

  7. What a great vlog! It certainly makes you think… Like Tanvi said it’s important to set your parameters on what to reveal and what not to share… once you’re on the net, it’s so easy to track down who you are, who you’re working for etc… scary stuff!
    Have a fab weekend hun!!!
    x.o.x.o
    ps you HAVE to do a trip over to Greece lovely!!! Am waiting!!!!

    1. Amen, mama! Hope YOU had a fab weekend traipsing round those gorgeous Greek islands! I am thinking a trip is long overdue. Need to discuss on the home front. But you KNOW I’m going to chase you up if I make it over!

  8. I totally agree on the whole level of privacy, everyone is different.
    Also the whole 4square is kind of creepy, I don’t alone want half of my friends to know where I’m at most of the time.

    1. HA! No doubt. Plus if you’re out on a lunch break, why would you want your employer to know exactly where you are? It’s a little Big Brother for me.

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. I totally agree about 4square, that’s just not safe at all! And Katy mentioned that she would never reveal her address and phone number – I definitely wouldn’t do that either. Great vlog as usual!

    And thanks for helping me come out of my shell and start vlogging, V; I’m going to try to make it a regular thing!

    1. YAY! I’m still so excited about the approach you are taking, Leia. Not that you need to vlog or put yourself out there to prove anything. But I think you have a lot of wisdom and I love how incredibly poised and ladylike you are. It is inspirational.

  10. I eally enjoy lisening to your Friend Friday answers! πŸ™‚

    You made some excellent points, especially in your last answer. I also think that you have to take the vision of your blog into consideration when it comes to what you reveal (i.e what does my sex life have to do with my fashion find of the day!). I know I’ve toyed with the idea of a relationship blog but I don’t want to reveal personal things about my marriage or my friends so I don’t think I could necessarily do that.. I can talk about myself in the realm of beauty and fashion all day long but all the “other” stuff, I usually keep to myself!

    1. MJ, thank you for your comment. while I must admit that there are some sex and relationship bloggers I adore, that level of openness is just not for me. In this uber-connected world, I think retaining some things for yourself is good thing. I have to say that since bailing from Facebook a year ago, I am MUCH happier. Facebook is just TMI. ALL THE TIME!

    1. Oh my! Well, Kristy, I’m actually glad you did. You are so freakin’-A GORGEOUS that I’d be worried for you. People don’t need to know where you are all the time, your usual haunts.

      And thank you, sweetpea…much love to you too, bella!

  11. You really do have the best blog topics EVER. πŸ™‚

    I agree with you that there is a fine line between letting readers get to know you versus giving potential stalkers way too much personal information.

    I started my blog under the name Jennifer Fabulous and I will never EVER reveal my last name. I will also never reveal my city or last names of friends or the name of my employer/coworkers. Etc. I’m just so weary of stalkers and crazy people out there. It’s a scary world and you just never know who might take an unhealthy interest in you.

    One thing I really recommend to bloggers is the use of stat counter. It is kind of a comfort to me because I can see what IP addresses from where are looking at my blog at all times. It actually helped me discover last year that some creepy man with a hardcore porn blog was looking at my blog up to five times per day. It scared the crap outta me and I blocked him on blogger immediately. Especially when I saw on his blog that he lived in a city less than four hours away from me!!

    Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend. xoxo

    1. Wow, Jennifer, I am so flattered! Thank you!

      I am a total Stat Counter fan myself. I have also blocked some IP addresses, and it is brilliant for that! You have to be careful, and I’m glad that you are. This is excellent advice! You can’t control everything, but you can do what you can to mitigate potential issues.

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. Great Blog post. These questions have been at the back of my mind too. You have just answered them.
    Just one suggestion- Can you also compile and write your answers that you have given on your vlog?

    1. Thank you Kiran. Glad this post prompted some resolutions for you.

      Regarding your question, as much as I’d like to be able to transcribe my answers and post them, I can’t. I do these vlogs specifically because it is faster, easier, and more compelling to speak rather than type. I just don’t have the time to transcribe, I am sorry. I’m actually having a bit of a time keeping up with all these wonderful comments, truth be told. It’s likely that in the very near future I will have to post less in order to able to retain the same level of attention regaring my readers and commentes. But I thank you for your interest, nonetheless.

  13. I keep my private life private I dont talk about my family and personal stuff that much. I feel it is a fashion blog so I keep it about fashion. I work in a store so it is hard to keep that private and I am actually going to do a post about where I work but I am not going to say which town. My work is actually part of my blog so I cant really keep that private. I am not bothered about people knowing my name but my age is a closely guarded secret :).
    Great post hn xoxo

    1. Thank you, love! I think focusing on fashion (and you do it so very well) is a good way to keep yourself from overstepping any bounds.

      On the age comment…HAAA! Loved that. I used to be OK with if, but the older I get, the more I want to keep that number to myself! Fashion blogging (like the fashion industry) is very centered on young, supple lovelies. Makes me feel ancient sometimes! Seriously, I could have a college-aged child by now! GOD!

  14. another wonderful vlog, chica! this round of questions were really thought provoking and you stated your points wonderfully. what you say about privacy regarding this internet voice as part of your professional life is very important. my blog space is not in any way a professional forum for me, but if/when that happens, your advice has been heard and filed for future reference. thank you!
    i can’t tell if your tunic/dress is a shad of pink or coral, but it looks so pretty against your skin tone. :o)
    and Fall! YES PLEASE!

    1. Aw, thank you Daisy!

      We are the same in terms of the split between our professional and blog lives. I want to be myself, but by the same token, you have to play the game to a certain degree. I don’t need to prove anything; I’m happy with myself, and grateful for my career. In fact, it is the perfect situation in some aspects, because my blog is my hobby and no advertisers own me. I do what I want, when I want. So I fulfill my need for creativity, and by day, I also continue building a viable career and my marketability. It would take a LONG time and a LOT of advertisers to even come close to the kind of full-time salary I am accustomed to.

      PS: The dress is actually shocking bright coral silk. A fave of mine…thank you for the compliment!

  15. Interesting topic. When I first started this was my initial fear: privacy. However, I do agree with you that if someone wants to find you they can find you whether this is an easy or difficult task. I think it is all individual and if you feel comfortable with giving your information away or not. Anywho… have a great weekend V!

    xo Lynzy
    http://fromskirtstoskillets.blogspot.com

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lynzy! True, we can ALL be found. Don’t need to make it easy, though. It is a very individual thing, the exposureβ€”you are right. And for that reason, there is no wrong or right.

      One thing I think is a major consideration is that I don’t have children, and because of that, I think I have a little more leeway. If I had kids, I’m not sure I’d put myself out there to the degree I have. Even if they were never photographed or referenced. It just freaks me out, you know?

    1. Yes, it’s a hard call…but especially when you’re a writer…your name is so important. It’s all about the bylines. I totally get you!

      Thanks for your comment, sugar!

  16. I agree 100% with everything that you said here. It’s definitely important that, in addition to our own privacy, we also consider the privacy of the people in our lives. And I also agree about foursquare and other location trackers – I’ve never understood the appeal in that technology. I have a twitter account linked to my “real” identity, but I don’t think I see the value in having some random person who follows me on twitter approach me while I am out and about. I understand that some people enjoy meeting new people that way, I guess I am just a bit more private than that!

    1. Amen, doll! With you. In the end, we must all do what we feel is right for us.

      The location tracking feels a little book of Revelations to me. I can’t go there. I need to have that for myself. Plus, I’m not an overly social person. It’s not obvious from my blog, but I keep my immediate circle extremely small. Like two or three people, maybe five. Not because I don’t want to meet new people, but because I have been burned so many times, and I’m too old to go through the motions anymore. Blogging is proximity at a safe distance. That is good for me, and apparently for you too.

      Thanks for sharing!

  17. You look so beautiful in your vlog V!!
    You make so many great points about privacy. I had several anonymous blogs before I finally decided to put myself out there. I find the biggest thing I worry about is protecting my personal relationships and the privacy of the people in my life. I try not to write about my workplace or friends that don’t blog themselves and aren’t comfortable with the idea of it. I do have a few friends that blog and are happy to be included in my posts from time to time. My boyfriend is also a great sport when it comes to that sort of thing!! I’ve definitely deleted a few posts that I thought went a little too far or could be interpreted as something different from what I was really trying to say. I try to keep my blog as positive and happy as possible and the last thing I want is any negative association especially from the people who are important to me.

    And the Foursquare thing creeps the hell out of me! I’m paranoid to begin with so I’ve never even considered it or geo-location on tweets.

    Have a great weekend!! xx

    1. Hello sweetness! Thank you for your kind words…I remain appreciative of and awestruck by the outpouring of love and support you and so many have shown me.

      I’m a bit paranoid, too, with you there. I’ve noticed you’ve yanked some photos of the adorable Mr. W and you on the blog, and don’t blame you. I used to have my hubby’s handsome mug on my blog, but deleted all traces almost a year ago. I like to think of him as my little secret, my private treasure. He is intensely private and has never complained about the blog, but as time has progressed, I’ve felt more and more territorial and ultimately decided that I should not be the one to put him on the Internet since he is not already there (amazing but true).

      Thanks always for your comments and positivity!

  18. Good answers. I have really thought about whether to reveal my name or not and I decided to do a screen name for privacy. I agree that I don’t reveal names or discuss very personal information on my blog because I respect my friends and family (don’t want anything out there to bite me).

    1. JT, thanks for sharing. I think when in doubt, a screen name is totally brilliant. You are under no obligation to reveal yourself, and sometimes, there is a little part of me that wishes I were still anonymous, because there is tremendous freedom in that. You skate around accountability.

  19. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again – I ADORE your vlogs!
    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve said.

    Thank you for your recent comments – I appreciate your honesty
    (I have the same views/reactions on the animal issues)

    P.s Love that dress on you, the colour is gorgeous!
    xo

    1. AWWWWW! J, you KNOW you are very special to me, even if we’ve never met. Thank you for your comment and perspective…and the compliment! I so appreciate that coming from a lass as stylish as yourself. Hope you are well, sugar.

  20. I struggle with this problem on an almost daily basis. I really enjoy the blogs where people give of themselves and let their readers into their day-to-day lives, but at the same time, I struggle with drawing the line on what to divulge about myself on my blog. Working in an industry other than fashion and media for my day job, I feel a little extra pressure to maintain an appropriate demeanor and keep some secrets on my blog, just in case anyone from work were to come across it. I obviously don’t think there is a right answer on the privacy dilemma, it’s just something that you constantly have to be evaluating.

    1. Becca, thanks much for weighing in on this. I am with you and agree that it is an ongoing struggle and something you must constantly evaluate. I think you are already doing a good job of balancing the personal connection with your privacy and appropriateness.

      A well-established blogger tweeted about this post to me, saying that she DOES want to know when her fave bloggers go to Target, because she develops girl crushes. I am the same way. With some people, you do become that enamored that you don’t mind detail to that degree; they have such a way of spinning it that even a trip to Target is a fantastic tale. So as you said, it is a personal, day-to-day evaluation about what you write. I try very hard to stay positive here, but I am human, and sometimes life and my snarkiness get the better of me. But in recent times, I’ve made a genuine effort to not bash, to try and be positive. And I have to say putting out good energy does indeed bring it back my way, though that is not why I am doing it. I’m just trying to make sure I live my life authentically. I’m trying.

  21. 1. Yes, but that ship has sailed for me.
    2. I’ve used Kionon since 1992, but I don’t hide my real name behind it. Again ship has sailed, and Kionon and my name are linked. A google search will tell you almost everything about me. Luckily, I’ve never done anything I haven’t already shared with US Government background checkers, so I am not exactly frightened by anyone else.
    3. Well, I don’t discuss my relationships online, at least not on my blog, and never ever EVER in any kind of real detail.
    4. Following three, a gentleman will never kiss and tell.
    5. You don’t need to be inside my bedroom. Figuratively, of course, as I have posted pictures of my actual bedroom. So pretty much answers three through five are identical. Everything else is fair game. My politics, my job, my religion, my goals, my aspirations, and of course, my style.

    1. Great responses, K for K—- and Kionon. But my most favorite of all is that a gentleman will never kiss and tell. You’ve got me now. Being gentlemanly online and in real life will NEVER steer your wrong. Good for you, dear.

  22. So I have a story that a lot of people can learn from.
    I used to be a member of a large, active forum. However, I was also the administrator which left me open to attacks by the girls. Because I had been there so long, they knew a lot of personal information about me, and also knew of my first attempt at a fashion blog. Let’s suffice to say that my style was terrible, the photos unflattering, and it was a dud. Well, I took the photos down.

    A few years go by, and the girls are trying to hurt my feelings, and someone started posting my pictures all over other sites to be made fun of and criticized. It was very, very scary for me and I have since quit that forum in hopes that they will find someone else to pick on. And when I got upset, they just kept making fun of me, calling my psychotic and bringing up skeletons from my past.

    In conclusion: Never tell anyone you don’t trust about the bad things in your life.
    I am lucky that those girls do not know where I work or where my parents live or my permanent home address. I’m sure some of them could figure it out with enough digging, but it was seriously scary for me.

    I don’t use my real name online anymore, even on my facebook. I changed my last name on there to a nickname instead. It’s scary to me that my pictures are floating around on the web and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    -Erica
    Classy and Delicious

    1. Wow. Erica. Thank you SO much for sharing this. I may contact you about it in the future. I am deeply appreciative of your honesty and sharing so that others might learn from your unfortunate experience. I am so sorry you went through all that, and I can’t imagine how distressing it must have been. But you are rightβ€”we must all be cognizant of the permanence of written/documented words, images, and thoughts. They can be resurrected even when we think they are gone.

      Again, I thank you for sharing this and I hope that it has all blown over and that you are in a better place now. Sending you a big virtual hug, honey!

  23. Great vlog, once again! I worry more about FB than I do about blogging, FB seems more threatening to me. I don’t mind using my real name and city as I never post anything that would hurt anyone or really give anyone many details about me. And honestly, I could be being naive, but I doubt anyone even cares about me, I just don’t see getting a stalker off of a design blog. I don’t know, I say that and next thing you know, maybe I’ll have some chandelier-crazed fan chasing me, lol! I do Google myself occasionally and I’m happy with what appears, nothing revealing, nothing that I wouldn’t want parents or a future employer to see! XO1

    1. Shari, you bring up a HUGE debate/topic: Facebook. Or as I like to call it, Two-Facedbook. It IS more threatening than blogging, because people have this false sense of security and share tons of info, often without knowing how to secure their accounts. It’s the craziest thing…people just feel compelled to share it ALL there. Then you get work colleagues who want to friend you, but you don’t want them to be that close to your personal like, but if you restrict their access and they talk to a mutual friend who has full access to your photos, etc., they feel slighted. It is truly a no-win situation.

      I’ve had one friendship derail (explosively, too), and another pushed to the limits because of misconstrued status updates. I also started to feel like I had to answer too many personal questions from people on FB when they hadn’t heard from me in a while. So about a year ago, I bailed on Facebook, and I’ve been so much happier since, and that is 100% truth. Yeah, so I’m missing my cousins’ status updates and things I’d like to see, but in the end, the rest of the B.S. I have to endure is not worth it. Quitting FB was the best decision I made last year. I highly recommend it.

  24. As always, great Vlog, V. Wonderful and wise answers. I agree with your take on things. In fact my favorite blogges are personable but not personal; they are themselves but keep the info on the day-to-day personal lives private. I prefer it that way. The kitchen sink blogs lose my interest very quickly, just like a girl at a party that spill to much beans to a stranger, I am left feeling awdward with T.M.I. Of course your blog is like Goldilock’s porridge: just right.

    1. Thank you so much, Bella! I appreciate the feedback, especially. It’s good to know that I have the right mix. I agree completely with you on avoiding the kitchen sink…a little mystery is always good.

  25. Well stated, as usual, blog privacy is a huge deal. I started with a pen name because I didn’t want anyone I knew directly to find it because I felt like such a dork, but now I’ve moved away from that and I’m proud of what I do… I agree with keeping the personal separate, I feel that people don’t really want to read about your relationship unless that was the point of the blog to begin with… I’m just repeating what you said, so I’ll stop being such a fan girl D:

    1. Miss ED, you should be proud of what you do. I’m glad you’re acknowledging that. We’re on the same page, completely.

      Thanks for all your recent comments. I really appreciate and enjoy the conversations I have with my blog friends. Please don’t ever stop being a fan girl!!!

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