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Social Networking & Virtual Violation

Yesterday I googled my blog to find something quickly in it, and discovered to my surprise (and great dismay) that there are at least two other sites out there that are using the entries I have written.  One of these sites actually claims to be the author of the entries, has no link to this website, and has downloaded my ENTIRE blog.  I don’t mind people referring to the info I post, linking to this blog etc.  But but to post entire entries that I have written – especially the more personal stuff – and claim it as their own is not right.  I know that what I write here is in the public domain, but this still leaves me feeling violated.  I can’t explain why, but after seeing my writing on those other sites, I feel downright icky.

One of the sites is Blogged, which appears to be linked to Facebook.  I had my blog link on my FB page, and that’s likely how they got it.  On the Blogged site, they posted the front page of my blog with short experts from a number of entries, and then a link asking “if you are the author of this blog, click here.”  When I clicked, it pulled up a box that said to continue I had to authorize release of all my information to their application.  Ummm… NO WAY!  Fortunately they had a contact address, which I have written.  Hopefully they will take that page down shortly.  At least they acknowledge that they are not the author of the contents in question.

The other offending site is on a blog hosting site, presented like an actual blog.  Whoever has set it up has claimed my blog as his or her own.  No contact info, no way to leave comments or messages.  But I have found the contact info for the hosting company and have written to them asking them to take it down.  Hopefully the will also comply.

While the Blogged site most likely got my link from Facebook, I believe the second violation is likely the result of my link to Twitter, which you may notice is now gone from this site.  Twitter apparently allows re-blogging services to access your information.  I went through my privacy settings and found two places where I had allowed public access.  I had to in order to let twitter re-post my tweets here.  But allowing that also apparently means that anyone can access everything I write, not just on Twitter but apparently here too.  I am sure that Twitter is the cause of most of my problems – there are several other sites using my tweets, although they link to the original site so I’m ok with that.  Plus I write a second blog, that I did not link to Twitter, and it has no such violations even though I had it’s link on my FB page as well.  For all the fuss people are making about Facebook, Twitter appears to be worse.

Clearly you need a degree in intellectual property rights in order to safely use the internet.  Actually, I suspect that anyone with such a degree would simply not use social networking at all.  Perhaps that’s what I should do as well.  I quite enjoy Facebook and, to a lesser degree, Twitter.  But I am beginning to understand why people are so upset about their use (abuse) of personal information.  I have been starting to do research into intellectual property rights around food, and GMOs specifically, and I suspect this won’t be my last entry on the topic.  In fact, I can see my research heading predominantly in that direction once I’ve finished writing up my current project (i.e. the dissertation).

For now I’ll keep my social networking accounts, but I am going to put them both on probation.  I have removed as much information about myself as I can, as well as all links to my blogs, and have cranked up the privacy settings as high as possible.  Of course this diminishes their effectiveness for the things I’d like them to do.  I guess it’s a catch-22, and I’m not sure how to resolve it.  But for now I’m going to err on the side of caution.


2 Responses

  1. I sure can empathize with your experience.

    We have a similar problem with sites copying our bison recipe content. So far, most have complied with a request to remove the content, but there are always those that will take advantage.

    Don’t give up to these thieves! Keep posting and fight for your rights.

    btw the new govt IP rules will not help us, just their corporate masters.

  2. That’s terrible! I can’t believe someone would copy entire posts.

    I google my own blog every now and then to see what comes up. You just never know I guess!

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