Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Negative Side of Blogs

While I have been pushing blogs at work and potentially to the state of Pennsylvania's teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have recently seen the negative side of blogs.

My son has Angelman Syndrome. Wikipedia describes Angelman Syndrome as a "neurological disorder in which severe learning difficulties are associated with a characteristic facial appearance and behavior." When my daughter was younger I created a website for siblings, called Angel Land, with games and a chance to talk about their siblings with Angelman Syndrome.

Recently a parent found a blog that used part of my website (Angel Sib Thoughts page) to ridicule children with the syndrome. They quoted from what the siblings had posted, not always in its entirety, and mocked the children. The person also made fun of the fact that one of the children died when he was trapped in a recliner.

Needless to say there was an uproar among the parents to the extent that some contacted the dean of the university where this person attended. The school of course could do nothing since it was not school related. The person has removed the original post and is now just referring readers to the website implying that they can read into it what they will. I have also recently found another post that quoted the children with no comments except in the comments section(I have not told the other parents about that one.)

As a result I have begun changing the content to say that the page no longer exists because of the blogs which link to that specific page. For now I have kept the content by changing the name of the page and I am starting to go through the whole site changing the links. I thought that Dreamweaver would do that when I changed the name but it didn't.

I feel really bad about these incidents. I wrote an email apologizing to the parents and offering to take the page down or password protect it. Of the replies I got all said to leave it there. I am sure that the people that are quoting from my site are violating copyright laws but financially it is not worth pursuing.

Of greater concern as far as I am concerned is the issue of quoting underage children, with derogatory comments added, who have posted to my site with parent permission. I really researched the issue of children's privacy when I updated the site for one of my grad school classes and came to the conclusion that it was legal to have the page. To protect the children I have never used more than their first name, age and country to identify them. I also check every post before it is placed online to make sure there is nothing in it that could be used to identify them. I can't help but wonder how the combination of this issue and the copyright issue would play out in a court of law.

Despite all of this I still think blogs are a great idea to use with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. I'm not sure but I think at our staff meeting this week I will be talking about my game and maybe about blogs. I need to check with my boss to find out if he still wants me to talk about them. He was going to talk about my blog article himself at another meeting, that I didn't go to, but never did. I'll have to remember to give him a call to check on things.

As an aside Clusty is a really cool new search engine that can search blogs by linking to five different blog search engines. It is even able to check if a blog links to a URL (which is how I found the other linking blog entry. I also found one that links to a graphic I had-but not any more haha-need to check with my ISP about that one to see if they can block people from linking from other sites)

No comments: