Blogs, Anonymity, Freedom of Expression



Artwork: Anonymity/Graham Lampa.

[Rezwan, Germany.]

All over the world, there are regimes that discourage free speech and try to suppress dissidents. They keep an eye on its netizens and in recent years many bloggers across the world have been interrogated, arrested, tortured and sent to prison for the “crime” of speaking critically about their governments.

Bangladesh is under a state of emergency now. Although the situation of press freedom is much better than many countries quoted above, a few bloggers have already been detained and abused for their writing. Certain journalists were questioned or cautioned by the security forces. This fear has contributed to an alarming trend of self censorship in the Bangladeshi media. One can wonder; how do you express yourself freely and without fear? There is always someone to edit what you write in traditional media. So asking for total press freedom is really pointless in this situation.

One tip for those who want to speak their hearts out is to write in blogs. You can write on controversial issues and taboo topics, be a citizen journalist, exercise your literary talents or just write mere daily journals what the public media won’t publish. And to protect yourself from danger, you have the advantage of blogging anonymously. Anonymous blogging can also help in those situations when you are writing about your work place or about a big corruption without divulging your identity.

You need to take some precautions to write anonymously. There are many ways you can get caught. If you do not scrutinize your texts before publishing you can inadvertently reveal your identity or workplace through your writing. If some acquaintance recognizes you they can reveal your identity. And also be alert while using Web browsers or email programs. If one can get hold of your IP information they can trace it back to you. For an example if you comment on a government website or send an email to someone, your IP address gets logged. So being anonymous is a tricky job.

There are a number of ways you can hide your identity when using the Internet. Always use a free Webmail account and a free blog host outside your country of residence. Use pseudonyms for these accounts. It is advisable to sign up for the account and post sensitive materials to the blog from computers that are used by lots of other people. You can also use an anonymous proxy to be more secure.

You can read “A Technical Guide to Anonymous Blogging” for details.

You have started a blog and you want more people to read what you write. You need to ask this question. Why are you blogging? Is it for lust or for fame or you just wanted to express yourself freely? What does it take to make your blog make others interested?

I think quality of content rather than quantity and quest for fame can work wonders. Just like another media you ought to earn others’ trust. People should understand that you are authentic and writing for a purpose and whether the blog really represents you. Whether you write anonymously or divulging your identity your writings should reflect your personality.

“Blogs, blogs everywhere, but not a good one to read” quoted one leading journalist cum blogger. But in the ocean of blogs there are a lot of good blogs to read if you can find. The question is how to do it. You can use blog search engines and use tag words to find what you are looking for. You can also check sites like Global Voices Online where country/topic wise blog round-ups are posted frequently. E-Bangladesh will soon have regular blog round-ups from where you will be able to bookmark blogs of your choice.

You need to manage your blog lists to save time. Say if you have bookmarked about three hundred blog sources, imagine how much time would be wasted if you had to manually check each site for updates daily? So it is now practical to use Rss feed readers to bookmark blogs and read updated posts without ever going to individual blogs. This is the most effective way to read blogs.

Rezwan [] is often referred as “the dean of Bangladeshi bloggers” for his authoritative contributions towards setting the blogging agenda in Bangladesh. Blogging since 2003 on Bangladesh and the world. Portrays Bangladesh and Bangladeshis beyond the typical headlines published in Western Media.

[Read posts by Rezwan]

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