Is There Any Limit To What Blogs Can Post?

The thing about blogs is that they have the ability to tell the rest of the world things people have yet to know. For the most part, what we tell to the world are things that no one really bothers to know. Half the things on this blog for instance revolve around that baselessness. A testament to my expression of personal freedom that does little to benefit others except in terms of the vague wisdom of experience.

Yet other blogs have enough power to affect reality itself. While sensationalised and a little exaggerated, Engadget’s recent post about Apple indirectly caused a lot of people to lose their money in stocks. Incidentally a lot of people also gained a lot of money on the same move, but that’s just smart business sense and not the power of blogs. An example like that says a lot about what blogs can do these days.

Then again, Engadget is just one of the handful of blogs that are big enough to rival major media publications. While the debate is still on regarding the validity and objectivity of blogging compared to mainstream media, information is still information and cases like this show that blogs do pull some weight in the field, even if they tend to give a more personal view of the point compared to the traditional media.

Taking that into consideration. What happens when personal blogs start telling the world of events such as what this blog did here regarding a car accident? Telling people about the accident is one thing, but what about the pictures that were taken on site? People argue it’s unethical to post pictures such as what was posted there, out of respect towards the victims of the accident. People like me would argue that compared to the hundreds of vivid and disturbing imaged and videos of uncensored violent acts on the net, that post is pretty mild and doesn’t warrant the kind of negative attention isn’t been getting.

So if blogs have the potential to influence people, how much of a journalist should every blogger be? What kind of responsibility does a blog have when they bend traditional media and start writing down what they see as fact?

It’s easy to distance yourself from the rest of the world sitting behind the screen. It’s easy to forget that words have the power to influence and change or strengthen the opinion of others. For blogs that have taken that responsibility to tell the world the facts, they have no excuse to escape that prerogative. Yet for the rest of us who started off from expressing things that no one else would really bother to know, can we take up that responsibility as well? Do we even have the right to?

I leave the comments to your thoughts.

8 thoughts on “Is There Any Limit To What Blogs Can Post?

  1. Good points about responsibility. I think every blogger should know their target audience well. Kenny’s post wasn’t gratuitous at all but his responses to the critics, some of whom are/were regular readers showed that he doesn’t understand his audience much. Or perhaps he doesn’t feel the need to because he feels he’s popular enough anyway?

    I would have handled it thus: as soon as the complaints started coming in, a good compromise would be to link to the images that some of the readers have a problem with, rather than keeping them up on display. He wouldn’t have lost anything.

    I think it’s imperative for all successful bloggers to know this: they are nothing without their readers. You can’t please everyone but when a big bunch of them get real upset on more than a few occasions, it’s time to re-evalutate the blog’s direction.

  2. No. This is the internet. People can, will, and do post whatever the want.

    Believe it or not, some people blog for themselves. They don’t blog for money, they don’t blog for fame, they blog for themselves. Sure maybe those are factors, but it’s not why they blog.

  3. Daniel: I think you missed his point. Even those who don’t “blog for money”, I still think there’s responsibility to be had for what they say, even if it is on the internet. As the world changes, I think the idea that the internet is somehow “disconnected” from the “real world” is crumbling, and quickly. People get fired for saying things on their blogs; people get threatened; people’s “real lives” are affected by what they, and others, say online. As this shift happens, people need to get over the idea that just because it’s the internet, they can say whatever they want.

    Whether you blog for money, for fame, or just for yourself, yes, I think you have a responsibility to really THINK about what you put out there. You never know who might read what you said, and you never know how they might be affected by what they read.

  4. @Josh: I second that – especially when the blogger has a big audience. Even if it’s for non-profit, the blogger can no longer ignore ethics and responsibilities.

  5. Mooiness: The thing about Kenny is that he will always have detractors. It’s natural for a readership of his size. It’s also natural of a person of his stature (on and offline) to be the person he is. Though he shouldn’t have gotten his hands dirty in the comments, there was nothing wrong with the post in the first place. If he just left it like that and moved on, the issue wouldn’t have blown out of hand the way it did.

    Daniel: The freedom of speech doesn’t mean the freedom to say whatever is in our heads. Everything has consequences and we bear the responsibility of those events.

    Josh: Yeah. That was the point. In a way, everything is connected and because of that, at what point do our words become important enough that we have to be responsible for? From the very beginning or when we start putting down facts that involve other people than just ourselves?

  6. I third the bit about ethics.

    As long as you write something and put it up for the public to view, then it becomes your responsibility, whether you like it or not, for whatever you write. There’s no reason, no excuse. What you say will have an impact on someone else, no matter how small, and by that you should be careful about what you say and write. It’s especially important if you’re working or have any professional responsibility, because what you blog about can and will most likely carry on into real life.

    That said, use your conscience as a guide. Would YOU want to see something like that? Read about it?

  7. Do as you would have people do for you. That’s pretty much the basis of social consciousness. People forget that when they believe that the rules don’t apply to them or that they are the only people in the world that can do such a thing.

  8. Do blogs really have the ability to report the facts? We don’t have reporters, and we don’t have access to high ranking officials. In many ways blogs report on the facts presented by traditional news media, and traditional media outlets. We’re like gossipers, of a sort … second hand ‘fact’ mongers.

    Not real journalists, certainly.

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