When bloggers go too far... just for a story

Hi everyone. I want to thank everyone who read and commented on my last blog post. I can see women don't joke with sensitive issues like this.

I ended up calling my client, and she seems to be doing very fine now. She will resume the new job, and see how it turns out, although from what is currently being said, the new job seems offer a supportive environment to women, and enables them balance career and family. If you haven't read it, please do by clicking here, and lending your voice. This is because my client read the post, and is actually seeing the comments. So you can use the comment section to get to her.


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So something odd happened last week after the post was published. I was getting calls from a 'private number', which I kept cutting off because my number was recently used in a spam text, causing so many unknown numbers to call me, including 'private numbers'.

The person kept calling, so I picked, with the intention of cutting it immediately. Alas, I heard the voice of a well-spoken lady, who is a blog reader.
Long and short of the call, the blog post had too much information and description such that anyone who had a little personal information about my client would know it was her.

Yes, she knew who I was talking about, from my descriptions, so adviced that I take out some of the directly relatable details in the post, hence the later edit.

It is a small world indeed!

I felt so bad that I had exposed my client, even without meaning to do so. Now the whole world would know she's pregnant. Of course, I hadn't told my client about the blog post because the post wasn't about her or to expose her, but about her story.

So that leads me to question 1. Do you take permission from people before using their stories in a public domain, even though you are not exposing them personally? E.g "My friend told me a secret yesterday. She said she's a lesbian, and I was so shocked because she always has this holier-than-thou attitude." Do I need to tell her I'm going to put it in my blog even though I'm not exposing her?

What is the ethics guarding this when it comes to the writing world?

Secondly, how much is too much information when writing about other people, especially when you didn't take permission? How do you know when you have gone too far? You know that something might not be ethically or legically wrong, but it might be morally wrong. And when it comes to morals, it is always relative because my morals might not be your morals.

I am asking all these because many of us write and blog without any knowledge of the ethics and guidelines of what we are doing. And many times, ignorance can land one in trouble.

I felt so bad after that call because a random blog reader was able to know the person I was talking about, just by reading my post. It's obvious that they are close. What are the chances that her close friend is a blog reader? Definitely not zero. If one person could have figured it out, how many more could have? The blog reader could have reacted differently. She could have called my client, and told her, or she could have started telling the whole world about how my client is now pregnant (if she were malicicious, and not a true friend).

And so, I called my client. She gave me the update on how she and her family were adjusting to the situation. Thankfully, she was now doing well. I told her about the blog post, sent her the link, which caused her to binge on the whole blog.

Please, can you give your opinion in the comment section.

1.  Do you take permission from people before using their stories in a public domain, even though you are not exposing them personally?

2.  How much is too much information when writing about other people, especially when you didn't take permission?

Things to consider. Ethics, Legalities, Morals

10 comments

  1. If it is something I know people will be able to know who it is, I ask for permission before I write. Even if I want to write about my husband, I usually ask for his permission but I will not write about something he told me about someone - Never! or except if I am very close to a friend and I absolutely KNOW that they won't mind me writing anonymously about them. Otherwise, no story niyen.

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    1. Ask my husband for permission? Naaa. He doesn't seem to care about this blog. I think he's against TMI, so I don't bother asking

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  2. I don't ask anyone permission before writing about them on my blog.

    I just assign everyone in my life a nickname and write about them.

    Sometimes I leave out details that might make them easy to identify but I just write regardless.

    For years, Mustapha had the name Bakura on my blog.

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    1. Yeah, I think the name changing thing is a good tactic. It's not really about them, but about the story.

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  3. Well I haven't really blogged about people in my life, but I would think it's good ethics to ask for permission even if they are going to be anonymous. Just knowing their story is going to be exposed would make them wonder about things like how easily identifiable they would be and the like. And they may actually not want to have the story published despite them not being named. I'm glad the people your situation were understanding.

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    1. Hi Bee. Welcome here. :)

      What about authoring a book. Would you go and ask people whose stories you want to weave into that of fictional characters?

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  4. I think if it's sensitive or if someone could remotely decipher who they are from the story, then it's good practice to let them know and be sure it's fine. You'd be amazed at how people could easily put pieces together....

    www.KacheeTee.com

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  5. I think it is sensitive depending on the story shared. I would ask permission if it is a sensitive matter. You will be amazed at how people pieces bits of information together.

    Just like pictures for me, I always tell people before I upload their pictures on any of my social media profiles.

    www.molarabrown.com

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  6. ask permission! how would you feel if your friend blogged about your personal story without seeking consent.

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  7. i think it is best to ask for permission, the world is really a small place. it is shocking how people can place bits of information together and voila the identity is revealed

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What's your opinion on this? Let's learn from one another.