16 June 2009

Cold Feet

How much personal information do you publish on the internet?

I've been blogging for a month now and sharing stories from my real life in this virtual world. Should I have started this blog anonymously? I'm getting cold feet.

I can see many bloggers are happy to share names and photos, whereas others are completely anonymous. I make no judgement either way. I'm somewhere in the middle. I've used a recent photo of myself, I've said that I live in Preston. You know that I have two boys and how old they are. I haven't mentioned their names yet, but in a month I have told complete strangers a lot about them and me, both on my blog and in comments on other blogs. No offence to my lovely blogging friends, I'm hoping we can meet in real life, particularly those who are members of British Mummy Bloggers. I say this because they've just had a get together that I wish I'd attended.

So where do I go from here? I'm not comfortable with using the boys' real names. Fair enough, I don't have to use their real names, but what about photos? I'd love to post their photos on my blog. I think they're the most adorable children in the world... ever! Well, I would say that, wouldn't I? Well, they are :-) But seriously I won't be putting any identifiable photos on here, I can't put my finger on why though.

I suppose it's because once they're 'out there', that's it. Like a blog post it will be on the internet for ever. What happens when the boys are old enough to read? I don't want them to be embarrassed. Who am I kidding, of course they're going to be embarrassed by me - that's what mums do!!

Two recent BBC news reports come to mind. Firstly this report says that even deleted photos can still be found online. Then this more recent report about a family snap that ended up in an advertising campaign. Scary stuff.

I'd love to know what you think.



  1. I understand completely where your coming from and i started off completely annonymously...however i have now let the vale slip! I can't explain why and i still don't feel comfortable putting my picture on or full real name. As for the kids pics i am still a little worried but they're so adorable and still so young that in a few years they will be unrecognisable anyway....i think once they hit 6 i might stop with the pics out of respect for their own privacy, it's a tough one. :)

  2. I do post photos of my boys from time to time but I am getting more and more reluctant to do so and I am not really sure why. I am not too worried about revealing my identity but I am not ready to put onmy blog where I live and I now it can be found just with my professional website. I am really not sure actually, it would be very interesting hearing what the others have to say...

  3. I share my photo cos it helps to see the person you are reading, but I have changed everyone's name on my blog. I don't reveal the city where I live either, just the country and region. When you share details on the level we do, you do need to protect your privacy to some extent. As they say, names changed to protect the guilty!

  4. I tend to describe my children as 'the 6 year old girl' and 'the 2 year old boy' in blogposts, on Twitter and any other 'public' forums. I take the view that I have chosen to put myself 'out there' online but they haven't and as their mum it's my job to protect them so whilst I may tell the universe aboutv the cute things they do or say, a lot of family life is nobody else's business!
    Thanks for following my blog - I've returned the complient. I like your Twitter profile - I like to laugh a lot too - you sound like my kinda woman!

  5. Just wanted to say thanks for making me think of the whole issue and to avoid filling your comment page I wrote something here http://perfectlyhappymum.typepad.com/perfectly_happy_mum/2009/06/am-i-a-bad-mummy-i-am-using-my-childrens-real-name-in-my-blog.html

  6. I don't do photos or real names. Maybe someday, but not now.

  7. My sister and I are estranged from our biological father since he used physical violence (after years of emotional abuse) on my mum when I was 11. It was our decision to stop seeing him, and he has attempted to contact us countless times since.(When we were small, he lived in the house at the end of our cul-de-sac so he could watch our every move) Due to mutual friends, he knows I am married with a child, but I don't want my son in contact with such a monster, and try to withhold as much info as possible from him. This is my reason for an anonymous blog. I am even uneasy about using my initials on BMB! I do post photos, but no facial shots,my son is not recongnisable. So as much as I would love to post cute photos, and reveal more about myself, I feel trapped by my father. My mum is already very worried about me keeping a blog! He may find it one day, but he will never have a relationship with his daughters or grandchildren.

  8. Thanks for all your comments. I think that it's a sign of the times that we can chose to lives our lives in public, but this also means that we must be sensible.

    WOB, that's a good point about children changing so much.

    PHM, so glad I gave you food for thought. You make a good point about only sharing details of your life that you wouldn't mind telling a stranger on a bus.

    Gaelikaa, names changed to protect the guilty - brilliant!

    TMM, yes, they haven't chosen to be written about, but like you say you can still protect them.

    AMM, thanks, that's how I'm feeling.

    Allgrownup, thanks for sharing that. How awful. You have very good reasons for staying anonymous, but I share your desire to show the world your son. Good idea about the photos too.

  9. I think I have been very open in my blog since I started it, whether that's a good thing or a bad it's how I've written my blog. Giving thought to perverts or weirdo's is something I always do. I have only come across one strange occurrence since starting blogging where I posted a wedding photo of me with the farmer. A week or so later I was emailed by a regular reader of my blog (someone I read too) and he had attached a photo for me to see. It was my wedding photo which I had published, only the farmer had been cut out of it. From then on I deleted that person from my list and have never visited his blog since.

    CJ xx

  10. I wonder about this regularly and do consider stopping putting photos on, but they make up such a vital (probably the best) bit of the blog I keep on for now.
    Names are changed and location not specific, but there are clues popping up all the time for anyone who wanted to dig.
    a dilemma indeed...

  11. Hmmm...Crystal's comment is a bit creepy. Like you I wonder about this from time to time. I sometimes wonder about the personal info I give away. I've only posted my picture once. None of my family or friends read my blog so I am careful what I give away with regard to details as I don't want to be traced. Don't think I'm careful enough though.

  12. I don't use my name or my husband and everyone I write about has a nickname. That said I do post photos so if someone I knew came across my blog they would work out who I am. I am expecting my first baby in 4 weeks and I will post photos I think but he is called Squigler at the moment so that nickname will probably stick. It is difficult to choose really, I would love to share the name that I have picked but maybe not.

    Definitely a lot to think about.

  13. Hmmm...Interesting - yes not sure really what the right thing to do is, but I am generally a very open person so it would feel strange for me to write and not give the real names of my children...so I do do that. However, apart from my avatar which is pretty generic I never publish photos of my children. Not sure why one and not the other...but names feel ok to me. I could be wrong though. I do wish, however, that I had a different blogspot address though, but it seems to late to change it now. When I started and used my name I never really thought about where my blog was going...

  14. I try to make my blog completely anonymous and only 1 or 2 know a few more details about me. I'm too paranoid plus I think I'm more open this way.

  15. I use real names. Anyone wanting to work out who we are would have a pretty easy time of it, we are the only English family in the area, so I didn't see the need to make it anonymous. However, I don't post up any photos as that makes me nervous.

    I'm aware that both my mum and my mother in law read the blog as well as a few people here, which means that I am careful about what I write. My husband always says never write anything that you wouldn't like put up on a company bulletin board for everyone and anyone to read - and he is talking there about in an email so I figure that this is even more true of a blog.

    Great topic though, it made me think!

  16. It's a difficult one. I think using names and photos adds authenticity to a blog. But I decided not to use real names and only to post photos where faces are not visible.

    Why? Well, working with child protection I'm aware of lots of horrible incidents where photos where used in appropriately. I know that once posted, you really can't control what happens to a photo.

    I have used my real first name when commmenting - but won't use it on my blog, or using both pen name and first name on forums. However, some friends who commented on my blog did address me by my first name so that one's out.
    I also do mention where I stay (no address of course) but very careful not to reveal too much detail. Now my blog is not a biggish one, so even if I do put in more info I don't think it would lead to a difficult situation.

    On the other hand, there are massive mummy blogs out there (US) who also use real names and a lot of personal information. They seem not bothered about it and I really wonder how come. It's reassuring that in spite of their popularity there doesn't appear to be a problem.

  17. CJ, oh that is so creepy. Thank goodness it ended there! x

    Carolb, yes, photos do add to a blog. I guess if someone really wanted to dig they could find certain information on us, but there must be easier targets? x

    Reasons..., it's a difficult one, but I think we'd be very unlucky if we were targetted. x

    Dancinfairy, aah, I don't blame you for wanting to share Squigler with the world, but good idea to use nicknames x

    MT, tricky one, I guess it's difficult to change your blog address now! It seems like you have a good balance between sharing and staying private. x

    Clarey, I think you're right, if you are anonymous you can actually be more open with what you say. x

    BiB, yes, I guess you would be fairly conspicuous! I love that you treat your blog as you would a work email. Great advice x

    Cartside, I guess that's the biggest fear, that your photos are used inappropriately and the potential consequences of that. Re the US mummy bloggers, hmm, perhaps we're seeing problems that don't exist. Still I'll be erring on the side of caution. x

  18. Im open and honest with everything and sometimes i worry i give away to much . I use real names, pictures and videos and as i talk about town events now and then i think if someone really wanted to they could figure out where im from.

    I never really thought about it in the beginning as it was just a diary for the kids so of course i would including pictures and videos but time has moved on now...
    I think i may move to another site eventually and stop using names/places etc... but will more than likely keep using pictures . The purpose mainly to stop people being able to search and find my blog (as im hoping to start Nursing/Midwifery next year and don't want patients finding it)

  19. Laura, you're so right when you say 'if someone really wanted to', we just hope this doesn't happen. From what I've heard it would be pretty rare, I'm sure there are far easier targets!
    What a lovely record for your children.
    Good luck with the nursing/midwifery. x


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