SXSW – Zoe Margolis – Blogging How not to get Fucked

While bloggers have a lot more power than ever before, there are still plenty of risk involved with personal publishing. Talk about the best ways to survive this tangled maze.

Zoe Margolis Blogger/Author, Girl With a One-Track Mind (this was a conversation, so names not used. each line is a different person commenting in the thread)

  • ZM: blog was about sex life; got a book deal, 3 days after publication was outed by paper. Lost anonymity and had life changed.
  • ZM: In 2009, is it still worth it, is a good place to speak your mind?
  • In the US over the last 8 years, it has been scary of putting out their opinion. People putting out political opinions have been getting fired because their opinions are out there.
  • It is a privilege that those who are professional media person to live life publicly. It is not a right.
  • In academia, you can’t blog! it is supposed to be an open field
  • I had to fire a person who would not use picture or real name on blog
  • There are some places you have to be careful about your religion, if you are unconventional and express your opinion you are likely not to be trusted..not one of ‘us’.  I teach, you can’t discuss students, you always have to be careful what you put?
  • If you are going to be careful, so why do it?  If there is a risk. So you want to express your opionion, but you have to be careful
  • So talking about your sex life is one thing – but using a blog to talk about students is a different things.
  • You choose to blog and have to make a decision,. Making a decision to blog, means you have to take responsible
  • True, if you want to live in a fascist state. Your boss did not own you outside of work in the past. 
  • ZM: are we taking enough care – the stuff is there all the time
  • I’m a retired journalists and a new blogger, I’m doing investigative blogging. I have evidence for what I’m looking at, but still careful about what I am going to stay.
  • (Me) libel laws are the same…
  • you just have to defend your self.  if you write for a company, you have their lawyers!
  • (discussion about legal laws, libel etc)
  • There’s bloggers liability insurance now.  Very careful about how say things. Insure express opinion. I was worried about political stuff , to prevent having career being ruined.
  • Don’t make anyone mad!
  • Investigative journalism is one of the last bastions of local journalism, one of the things that keep gov and authorities held to account. This is disappearing and blogs may not cover it.
  • Opinions..how can you do this. A food blogger, how can you do this?  It is all opinion
  • So what about a public figure…blogged about Tila Tequila. Got a cease and desist to take down all mentions of her, her name was trade marked. 
  • Food bloggers have been sued…for giving a bad review.
  • There’s no regulation?
  • You can always be sued..you can pick someone to sue. You need the wherewithall to defend it.
  • this has coming down to reviews on sites like Yelp. Putting anything up there is open to be sued.
  • Is it about a bad experience, or about accusing them of something the business had done?
  • There are companies that will manage the web reputation…send out cease and desist and manage online mentions
  • So how anon is anon? 
  • There are anonymising services on the web.  Your IP address is traceable
  • ZM; but all it takes is 1 error and you can be found.  I don’t believed you can be 100% anon.
  • For sex bloggers, what are the morals about talking about someone else?  about talking about these things.
  • ZM: i amalgamated people, I pulled out situations. When I was outed, the ex-lovers could recognise themselves, but no-one complained.  Now, everything i write (about others) is with permission.  It does make it difficult, people are concerned about being blogged about.
  • Discussing about people, other people, it depends on the relationship. How far away they are from you. So how do you maintain relationships?   I won’t date anyone in the industry
  • Celebrities etc make a choice to be out there, to be written about.
  • ZM: I object…for 10 or so days I was dragged through the press, all my friends, family etc got hassled by the press.  The newspaper that outed me had sent me a mail before hand with lots of details about my life, saying they would publish this unless I went to a photoshoot.  They went after my parents.   My experience was only a small amount of what a celebrity goes through…they’re game..but so are there families. i don’t think that’s fair
  • Is anyone going to argue that the press needs to be regulated.  I was talking about the personal stuff…are you suggesting specific steps to take?
  • ZM: There’s no anonymity. You have to be aware that.  But I do feel that people have the right to privacy.
  • I’m troubled that there’s a right to privacy in a public forum.  You put all this stuff out there but you want to be private.  Is there any other media that allows this?
  • Look at Donny Osmond..in the 80s he was considered a ‘joke’ he sent out a song anonymously, it was a good song and his career increased again.
  • In the US, we are so scared about sex that you have to be able to do anonymous
  • ZM: I chose to write anon as I was afraid to be judged. I lost my job because of the writing.  I have had so many public attacks about my looks etc.
  • if you want to further an agenda..you’re an activist for that agenda.  It goes back to the public figure idea, you get judged whenever you do this.
  • As a woman, you have another issue, you are far more easily attacked.
  • Why would you think that the web would change things..humans are human and the tech will not change.
  • People do say things on the web that they would not say face to face. 
  • Do people have to give up every piece of information on the web if they say one thing?   Why can;t they choose what they want to make public?  Is it automatic that everything is open?
  • There’s a degree of that based on what you are blogging about it.   Depending on what you are doing, you may want more transparency (eg politics, gov stuff).
  • Where is the line?
  • It’s individual. It has to be what you are comfortable with it. No faces, face no name etc. It is everyone’s right to be what they want to be,
  • I’m in the tech industry (there are no many female software developers). I created a space for similar to get out there, to have a presence. We’re too afraid as a community to put ourselves out there.  So created a space for women to publish together.  For my community, you’re fucked if you don’t blog.
  • It’s interesting what you say there, something that gives you umbrella legitimacy.
  • Attacks aren’t against one individual person, it’s a group.   There is less situations of this
  • Unless its a feminist group blog..then they’ll take the site down
  • this media can bring out very weird sides of people, the tools we have may over allow for this behaviour to occur. It’s not to excuse it..weird paradigm of interacting with computer screen
  • Everyone here seems to be thinking about the repercussions of blogging…does not always happen. I’ve been asked to pull things (or remove names) as sometimes what you say now – you’re not sure how it can impact you inthe future.

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