Entries from September 2009 ↓

totally private blogging

A few days ago it occurred to me to search the Internet for the headline of the loggingit.com website, “Totally Private Blogging”.

For example, with Google, the first search result is Make [a] Totally Private Blog on the The Real Blogger Status blog, by self-declared “Techno Nerd” Chuck. He explains that with some blogging software “you can block public access to your blog.” You can still “let strangers request access.” And then

“While you close the blog, if you have other administrators, and want to keep them out, you may want to suspend their administrator status.

Of course, this won’t make any blog completely invisible, on the Internet. All of the search engines – Google, MSN, Yahoo, and the others – will have the blog in their cache. That cache won’t go away immediately, or at all in some cases.”

All right, looks like blogger doesn’t make all the options clear to users.

Significantly, however, your blog’s content may be stored by some unrelated search engine, unrelated to the blogger service, and unrelated to you. Well, if you overlooked that, maybe it wasn’t completely private after all. Could be a small problem, could be a huge problem, if you wrote something that you didn’t want to see published.

Similarly, you can find at the blogger forum, a question asked,

[...] i set my settings so only people invited can view it, and i only invited myself, but if i type in it’s web address, it still shows up! everything! why? i have to stop this!

with the answer

Did you have it public when it was setup?  It won’t disappear from public view, in the search engine caches, for a long time.

“A long time” ?!

Turning to another popular blogging tool, wordpress, there is an announcement on their blog about the privacy settings that wordpress supports. They also point out an issue with search engines:

[...] we can’t prevent you [your blog] from showing up in things we don’t control. So if a search engine still indexes you or has a cache of your page, you either have to contact them about it or wait for it to expire eventually. However if you mark your blog as private from the beginning (and it’s now an option on signup) you should be fairly safe from engines like Google.

“Fairly safe”? At their present wordpress features page, there is a list of privacy options. For me, too many options will lead to mistakes, whereas less power means also more reliability.

The loggingit.com service is private from the time you sign up: only when they know your user id and password will anyone else be able to read your logs.



Update: just a few hours after posting, the Google search for totally private blogging lists this very post as the second search result.

Update 2: Twitter has some privacy feature, which also has (unexpected) back doors, see the LA Times blog about Twitter holes and the Digital Soapbox blog about Protected Tweets – Oxymoron?