A typical blog involves the opinion of an author (or authors), sharing their opinion on a specific topic. The author’s opinion is generally supported by facts and research, gathered from numerous resources, aiding the argument of the blogger. There’s a multitude of objectives that a blogger may wish to achieve from a blog post. Entire blog sites have been dedicated towards a particular goal, often used as a device to inform or persuade readers. Unfortunately, blogs can sometimes be used in negative ways as well. Some people use blogs as a tool to insult others or spread slander in order to defame someone.
I am sure that we have all read a review about a product or a service, posted on a website. If the review is negative, most of us assume that the review was likely warranted because the product was faulty or the service was less than stellar. Much like those reviews, blogs frequently encourage people to view a situation from the blogger’s perspective and more often than not, the blogger’s perspective is a little skewed or bias. Under many circumstances, a person can read a blog and formulate their own opinion. Yet, there are times when readers may read a blog and misinterpret a blogger’s work as factual. It is true that established publications and trusted sources occasionally make mistakes, but those sources and publications strive to operate under the notion of providing accurate, factual information. A blogger may wish to incorporate the same level of “fact checking” or accuracy, but let’s be honest, a typical blog doesn’t usually have team of editors or a pedigree to uphold. Even when a blogger has the best of intentions, things can get out of hand.
There was an article that was assigned to us, by the professor of our communication class. The article essentially pertained to social media or web based communication and how they affect the parties involved. The article (Whispering campaigns can take flight in new media, by Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post), explained how a blogger chose to post (or tweet) a rumor about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Supposedly, the blogger suggested that Governor Haley committed tax fraud and was set to be indicted. The blogger’s post went beyond an insignificant rant. In fact, numerous publications/reporters decided to feature this blogger’s rumor as a “headline” story. Governor Haley claimed that this minor rumor caused extensive damage to her integrity and potentially ruined her chance of becoming vice president for presidential candidate (of the time), Mitt Romney. The blogger’s allegations were proven to be false, discredited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), prompting publications and the public to reevaluate social media as a worthy news source.
The article later brings up a valuable point, suggesting a “what if” scenario; stating that the damage caused by a blogger would be much more significant, if the rumor was something that could not be easily disproven (such as child abuse). From this, I became intrigued with finding articles relating to other slanderous blogs and the impending legal actions that were associated with them. This led to my discovery of another article (actually, a blog) titled, I was sued over a blog post and you can learn from it1, by Chris Moody. Mr. Moody remained extremely vague about the implication of what he shared that caused a governmental organization to file a suit. Moody mentions something about sharing a post referencing an “interesting use of technology”. Presumably, Moody’s article would appear to be harmless, yet, some government entity considered it to be quite malicious. I am not entirely sure what to make of the situation, but Moody’s blog does encourage bloggers to be cautious about what they share, as it can have undesired results.
Which brings me to my final point. As I’ve stated before, blogs can be used to achieve various things. Blogs can be heavily opinionated; biased to the full extent of one’s beliefs. However, blogs are frequently informative and a valuable way of sharing content. When I initially started blogging, I admitted in my first post that I wasn’t very keen on blogging. I guess that I felt like blogging was largely a social outlet, used for anyone to express or share useless information. I cringe (almost daily) at the “wall postings” of my Facebook friends, as they are usually littered with no value. Therefore, my opinion of blogging was a little misconstrued from the start. Overall, I’ve come to realize that blogging gives purpose to social media. And while the information may not always be the most reliable, it is interesting to hear the opinions, stories or tribulations of fellow bloggers and possibly learn something during the process.