Ethical Blogging

Blogging has become a part of people’s lives.  It has become a replacement for the pen and paper diary, the private journal, and even letter writing.  It is an updated version of the pen pal, where people used to send personal accounts of their lives to someone they didn’t know, and expected to receive a similar response back.  The best part about having a pen pal was sharing your letter (if you wanted to) with others, showing them a slice of life from another country, another state or even another city.  The creation of a personal bond between strangers is nothing new to us today, we use social networking to connect with old friends, play games with people around the globe and join virtual communities based on our interests.  A blog is nothing more than an expanded version of pen pals, where you share a personal account with a group of people (some known, some not) but the scope is much larger, potentially a global scope.

There are not many limitations for blogging, anyone can do it, it requires a minimal amount of computer knowledge.  Starting a blog is free and doesn’t require any special software installations.  If you have an internet connection, access to a computer and an e-mail address, you can blog.  There is a lot of freedom that comes with a blog, you don’t have to share your real name, where you work or anything personal about yourself unless you to choose to share it.  There are no hard and fast rules for blogging, which raises the question of what can be said, and what should be said.  The hard part about blogging is maintaining your privacy and avoiding the consequences of blogging, such as losing your job, angering people and losing credibility.

Blogging is a part of the Net Gen’s environment, where sharing information has become a way of life.  Even before blogging became mainstream, people questioned the integrity and ethics of bloggers, since they didn’t have a code of ethics, had no way to prove that a person had any credentials and had no obligation to disclose any relationship with companies.  However, personal blogging became normal and people got used to the idea of blogging, and in some cases, blogging exposed issues in news journalism.

However, once blogging became mainstream, corporations started looking into the advantages of creating a new relationship with their customer base.  Also during this time, companies realized that they could reach a new audience through high profile bloggers, and started paying for ads on popular blogs.  Many readers felt that accepting money for blogging showed a lack of integrity, but readers got used to that as well (or stopped reading).  Many people read blogs because they feel that they are getting a real opinion about a topic through a blog, because blogging conveys a personal message to its readers.  In the past people have seen scandals about companies paying people to post fake reviews about products in popular review sites, and forums, and I believe that people turned to bloggers for this type of information because of the personal connection.

Now with the advent of the professional blogger (a person who blogs for money, or receives compensation through ads, consultation work and free samples), people are again questioning the integrity and ethics of the blogging community.  One consequence of this move towards compensation is that blogging has come under scrutiny by the United States federal government because of issues related to the integrity and ethics of blogging as a profession. Currently the government asks bloggers to put a disclosure notice about receiving free products, so the consumer can make a informed decision about the blog content.

Since blogs are no longer the sole domain of personal users, and its influence has spread across social networks and virtual communities, there is a need for bloggers to show that they can follow ethical practices without compromising their integrity, privacy and freedom of speech.

Currently – Ethical Blogging

Next – Personal Blogging Ethics

Then Corporate Blogging Ethics

Then Blogging Ethics Recommendations

Finally Works Cited

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