Blog survey results on expectations of privacy and accountability

MIT doctoral candidate Fernanda ViƩgas just posted the summary of her findings in her blog survey on expectations of privacy and accountability. Among the key findings with a few of my comments interspersed, particularly regarding blogging in a business context:

– the great majority of bloggers identify themselves on their sites: 55% of respondents provide their real names on their blogs; another 20% provide some variant of the real name (first name only, first name and initial of surname, a pseudonym friends would know, etc.)

Of course, in a business context, anonymity doesn’t really serve you very well.

– 76% of bloggers do not limit access (i.e. readership) to their entries in any way

I know of a couple of business bloggers who limit access to their blog, or even charge for their content. It all depends on your purpose for your blog. If you’re trying to build visibility, it doesn’t make much sense. If you’re trying to create an air of exclusivity—an inner circle—then it makes a lot of sense.

– 36% of respondents have gotten in trouble because of things they have written on their blogs

– 34% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in trouble with family and friends

– 12% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in legal or professional problems because of things they wrote on their blogs

– when blogging about people they know personally: 66% of respondents almost never asked permission to do so; whereas, only 9% said they never blogged about people they knew personally.

– 83% of respondents characterized their entries as personal ramblings whereas 20% said they mostly publish lists of useful/interesting links (respondents could check multiple options for this answer). This indicates that the nature of blogs might be changing from being mostly lists of links to becoming sites that contain more personal stories and commentaries.

I don’t think it’s that so much as just a semantic issue. The distinction between blogs and diaries/journals has grayed, “blogging” has had more media attention, and a lot of people who a few years ago would have called themselves journallers/diarists now refer to themselves as bloggers.

– the frequency with which a blogger writes highly personal things is positively and significantly correlated to how often they get in trouble because of their postings; (r = 0.3, p < 0.01); generally speaking, people have gotten in trouble both with friends and family as well as employers.

I find this fact very interesting, even if it’s intuitively obvious. Definitely a lesson there.– there is no correlation between how often a blogger writes about highly personal things and how concerned they are about the persistence of their entries

– checking one’s access log files isn’t correlated to how well a blogger feels they know their audience

– despite believing that they are liable for what they publish online (58% of respondents believed they were highly liable), in general, bloggers do not believe people could sue them for what they have written on their blogs.Again, this is just a summary of her findings. I highly recommend reading the whole report.