Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The responsibilities of being a Jewish blogger, part 3: “Hanistarot . . .What is hidden . . .”--On privacy & confidentiality

Let me take care of the obvious first. (Would that it had been so obvious at the time. [Sigh.]) I learned the hard way, as usual, never to send a mass e-mail without being sure to put the e-mail addresses of all of the intended recipients into the bcc (blind courtesy/carbon copy) window. It’s my responsibility as a blogger to ensure that those who don’t wish to share their e-mail address with half the known universe aren’t forced by my thoughtlessness to do so. (Sigh—I might as well get this over with: See my Friday, May 27 post, “A lesson in bcc, learned the hard way (as usual)—This is my public apology for having “outed” an anonymous blogger,” at http://onthefringe_jewishblog.blogspot.com/2005/05/lesson-in-bcc-learned-hard-way-as.html#comments.)

And now, for the less obvious . . .

A while back, I wrote a terrific post called “Life Imitates Art.” But you’ll never find it on this blog because I never posted it, and I never will. I won’t even tell you what the subtitle was going to be. (Suffice it to say that it concerned the fact that a person of my acquaintance was in a situation that reminded me of one I’d seen on television.) I concluded, after very serious consideration, that, however remote the possibility that anyone might be able to figure out who I was talking about, I couldn’t risk it. That would have been a gross violation of that person’s privacy. It would also have entailed a breach of a confidence, as the person who’d informed me of the situation certainly never intended to have it splashed all over the Internet.

Not everyone appreciates having his or her private life made public. Before posting about someone else (other than my poor family members, who simply have to put up with me), I have to think seriously about how the other person would feel. Would the post constitute a violation of privacy and/or a breach of confidence? Would the other person feel embarrassed, insulted, offended, or upset for any reason? Would his or her family and/or friends feel embarrassed, insulted, offended, or upset for any reason?

As a blogger, I cannot ignore privacy and confidentiality concerns. It's my responsibility to take other people’s feelings into consideration when deciding what to post.


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