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EpiGate: when blogging under one’s own name can be used against you

Posted Aug 23 2011 2:00am

Some of the best early advice I received when I started online discussions about autism came from Autism Diva . In an exchange online, she told me that I was giving out too much private information and eventually it would be used against me or my family.

She would know. She had people show up at her home one time. Parents angry at what she wrote who wanted her to know that they knew where she lived.

The blogger Orac at Respectful Insolence has had repeated attempts to silence or hurt him. Most notable of these was an attempt last year by the Age of Autism blog to get Orac fired from his real-life job (discussed here and here ). Luckily (a) Orac’s employers respect freedom of speech and academic freedom and (b) Orac’s employers can see through the false accusations that AoA fabricated. (sadly, many of the readers of AoA were unable to parse the confused logic of the post and bought into the story, resulting in them sending calls and emails to Orac’s employers).

Perhaps the most spectacular attempt to silence a blogger was levied against Kathleen Seidel. Ms. Seidel is probably the premiere blogger (in any field) that I am aware of. Her series have exposed some very unhealthy activity in the autism communities. Her work is scrupulously researched and referenced. She raised the ire of some people to the point that she was actually subpoenaed by Cliff Shoemaker (vaccine injury attorney) in a fishing expedition attempting to link her to being supported by pharmaceutical companies and/or political groups. It was the last desperate act of litigation that was about to close , and the subpoena was quashed .

Over the past few days, another story has played out. Liz Ditz discusses it in detail in A Public Servant, Blogging and Tweeting Under His Own Name, Has Been Silenced By His Employers . Orac has covered it in: The consequences of blogging under one’s own name .

Basically the story is this: EpiRen (blogger, tweeter, commenter, etc.) got into a disagreement with another person online. The other person ended up taking his opinion to EpiRen’s real-life employers. EpiRen’s employers have asked him to cease online discussions related to public health.

The Bully wins. It’s quite unfortunate. EpiRen has brought much good information to the online discussion. I must say I am disappointed in EpiRen’s employers. They have stated that EpiRen’s efforts reflect on them. I wonder if EpiRen were to face legal action for his online activities, would his employers aid in his defense? Would they do so for other employees? If not, perhaps they might reconsider what is free, individual, speech.

  1. Joe Blough:
    How funny! You crack me up Sully. Every cowardly, anonymmous ploy used by the "anti-mercury in vaccine" crowd was copied from bloggers like yours, AustismNewsBeatMeOff, Oracs, etc. They're just beating you at your own game. Reap what you sow!
  2. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.:
    An' good ol' Joe Blow there is of course posting under his real name ... NOT! The surname says all you need to know about that one!
  3. daedalus2u:
    Joe Blough, oh really? When have any anti-vaccine crowd received death threats? Or had people show up at their doors to threaten them? Or their children? How many subpoenas have been sought against anyone in the anti-vaccine crowd? How many of the anti-vaccine crowd have had their children mocked and threatened by “adults” in the other camp?
  4. Sullivan:
    "Joe Blough" has demonstrated the technique of trolling quite effectively.
  5. Joe Blough:
    What I do is Google "autism vaccines" and hit "news" and "past 24 hours". I read all the stories. If that's the defintion of a troll that's me I guess. On AOA every author uses their real name. You go by Sullivan. Dave Gorski hides behind Orac. Ken Reibel is AutismNewsBeatMeOff. Get it? You are the ones who invented this weird game. You are the ones NOT blogging under your own names. When I used to use my real name your goons went after my family and employer. You're a bunch of sick hypocrits!

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