“Better Blogging: Tips for Safety and Courtesy,” Ensign, Oct. 2009, 27
Chelsea Belton, who blogs to keep in touch with family and friends, never posts personal information online. She avoids mentioning addresses, birth dates, anniversaries, and other details that would make it easy to locate her family. Some bloggers also use partial or fictional names or general phrases like “my son” or “our friend” when referring to individuals in blog posts.
David Habben, who maintains both personal and business blogs, says that reviewing comments is an important part of safe blogging. While an author’s original post may be harmless, comments from readers may be less innocent. Some entities also use blog commenting to advertise or disseminate unwanted information. David uses a security feature that informs him by e-mail when someone wants to make a comment. He can then review each comment and delete those that are inappropriate or unwanted before they appear online.
“Once I posted [a photo of] a birthday party invitation I had made [for my son],” says Rachel Davis, creator of a group blog for LDS women. “I used photo editing software to blur out the location of the party because I just didn’t want [to take a] chance. It was a small thing to do, but it made me feel safe.” Be aware of information you may be giving inadvertently in the photos you display on your blog. Wisely screening photos will allow you to share ideas while protecting yourself and your family.
Search engines are the “conscience” of the Internet. They can call up almost any Web site from any period of time. So assume that what you post on your blog is permanent. The pictures of your children doing silly things as little kids may be funny or cute right now, but imagine those same pictures appearing when your children are 12 or 45. Carefully consider the pictures you post and the things you write.
“I have been surprised when … ward members or even old friends from high school read my blog,” says Kacy Faulconer, who writes personal and group blogs. Blogs should not be a “forum to complain or criticize people behind their backs,” she says. Instead, keep your comments positive. You never know who may be reading.
Sue Anderson, who began a blog because she loved reading her daughter-in-law’s, says it’s important to respect other bloggers’ work. Instead of copying and pasting something from a blog you like, “send friends a link to the blog itself.” She also recommends that “if you want to use something on your blog from someone else’s, [including photos], ask them first.” This protects others’ work and keeps you honest.