Respect the privacy of individuals

One of the reasons why it is so interesting to study blogs and the effect they have on mainstream media and businesses is that an entirely new group of people suddenly becomes influential. Many of these new opinion leaders are anonymous or at least only known to a select number of friends or relatives (50% of all Swedish bloggers were anonymous in 2006 – source: BlogSweden 2).

One of the most controversial Swedish bloggers two years ago blogged under the pseudonym of “Alicio” (not a favourite). Today, the most linked to blog in Sweden is Beta Alfa (a favourite), publisher unknown. Blog related services like Knuff, Nyligen, Intressant and others have become hugely successful and influential, and many are run by previously unknown entrepreneurs, in these cases by the unknown Johan Larsson.

Andreas Ekström today writes an article in Journalisten where he wonders who Johan Larsson is. With all that power and influence maybe we are all entitled to know more about this mystery man? And I agree that I am very curious myself about the person behind these terrific services. But on the other hand I have the deepest respect for the fact that he wants to keep his private life private.

Admittedly, if one single person sits on a database that allows him to analyze the behaviour and opinions of a large group of people, there needs to be some kind of control mechanism so that this power is not used in an unethical way. But that doesn’t mean that we have the right to know private information about this person. Remember that the ethical rules for the press state that media should respect the privacy of the individual and not publish information that isn’t evidently in the public interest. And I don’t think that personal information about Johan Larsson is.

Respektera den personliga integriteten
7. Överväg noga publicitet som kan kränka privatlivets helgd. Avstå från sådan publicitet om inte ett uppenbart allmänintresse kräver offentlig belysning.

Footnote: Johan responds.

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