MySpace Murder Foiled

I’m sure this is going to get a lot of coverage: MySpace Murder Plot Foiled – September 14, 2006

And I’m not going to bang on about it too much, but it reminds me of a conversation that I’ve had with a few people recently about online privacy and identity.

Sophie has mentioned to me a couple of times that I don’t credit her in my blog, and it’s true, but for good reason. Not because I’m trying to be a blog-swinger and attract chicks who read geeky blogs. Or because I’m trying to pretend that everything I write about is mine, mine, all mine. But because I don’t think that it’s right to ‘put’ someone online who doesn’t exist there already. I have no qualms about mentioning bloggers, or people who are active participants in online communities, or even people who are relatively googleable. But I’d never want to be responsible for ‘creating’ someone online. Even relatively anonymous Flickr postings can lead to all kinds of strange happenings.

The MySpace hit is just an extreme example of what happens when you get spotted in the wrong places online.

The one time when I have posted about someone who didn’t really have an online presence is when I blogged about my friend Olly who sadly passed away, I had a strange feeling that there would be people who knew he was tragically ill but may not have heard of his death. And sure enough there were a significant number of Google searches for his name that lead people here, resulting in a fair few emails from friends and acquaintances. Receiving those mails and dealing with them felt like an incredible responsibility and made me even more aware of the power of talking about people online.