Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bloggers privacy expectations and attitudes

The number of blog writers and readers has grown enormously in the last few years. Moreover, blogs are permeating most niches of social life, addressing a range of topics from scholarly and political issues to family and children's daily lives.

Blogging has the power to affect not only the lives of bloggers themselves but also of the people, companies, and products that are "blogged." For example, accounts of bloggers hurting friends' feelings or losing their jobs because of materials published on their sites are becoming more frequent. Therefore, it is important to understand how accountability and privacy expectations function in this emergent arena.

What this study is about…?

Karen Mc Cullagh is conducting an online survey to explore the privacy attitudes and expectations of bloggers as part of her PhD research, which is sponsored by the ESRC and Office of the Information Commissioner, UK.

What kinds of questions are asked…?

If you participate you will be asked to answer questions anonymously about your blogging practices and your expectations of privacy when publishing online. The survey focuses on four areas:

1. Blog content
What kind of content do bloggers publish?
Do bloggers seek permission to post photo’s of others or information about other’s lives.

2. Privacy and Identity management
Do bloggers identify themselves on their blogs?
Do bloggers identify others on their blogs?
Is identification dependent on content? (i.e., do bloggers refrain from revealing people's identities when writing about sensitive matters?)

3. Audience and control features
Do authors limit who has access to their blog posts?
Do bloggers know their readers are?

4. Privacy attitudes and expectations – legal implications

What information do people consider to be private?

What types of information do people consider to be sensitive?

Are some types of information too personal/private to publish on a blog?

Are authors getting in trouble—legally or personally—because of materials published on their blogs?

What will happen your answers...?

All answers will be stored and analysed on a confidential basis.

The responses will be used to inform academic and policy discussions on blogging practices and attitudes towards privacy.

Link to the survey:

Please take part in the survey:

Finally, could you please encourage other bloggers to participate in the study.

It takes less than 5 minutes to complete the survey!

Further information:

For further information on my research please visit or, email:

By their very nature, blogs raise a number of privacy issues. On the one hand, they are persistent and cumulative. At the same time, they are easy to produce and disseminate, resulting in large amounts of sometimes personal information being broadcast across the Internet

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