Archive for December, 2011

Dec 23 2011

Victory for lllinois Bloggers Further Legitimizes the Right of Free Speech to Blogs

In his website article, “Victory for Bloggers: Illinois Blog Wins Lawsuit”, Warner Todd Huston, reports:

“In a good sign for blogger free speech, a lawsuit against a high profile conservative blog in Illinois has just been tossed out. A political contributor brought the lawsuit over a story about property tax reassessments and political contributions. This is a victory for free political speech as well as a victory for the status of blogs in the world of “journalism.”

So, more evidence and close to home for all those Illinois bloggers who are reporting on controversial topics. They have the same protection as mainstream journalists.

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Dec 23 2011

Internet and Free Speech: Courts Rule Bloggers Have Same Right to Free Speech as Mainstream Media

The term “blog” is derived from the words, web and log. Literally, it means that it is a record of something stored on the internet on a website.

Blogs have increased exponentially over the last few years and are credited with becoming an incredible way to publish information on the internet instantaneously. 

Social networking and blogging have become an instrumental tool of revolutionaries in the Middle East and around the world seeking to overthrow dictators and offer an opportunity to create a free and democratic society.

While initially skeptical of blogs, mainstream news media have adopted blogging as an important means for them to deliver news by the minute as it is happening around the world.

In significant legal developments, American courts are recognizing the important role the internet and blogging has as part of a free society.

In ruling on a case related to the freedom of the press, a California Appeals court ruled:

The Californian appeal court decided on 26 May that online journalists and bloggers have the same right to protect their sources as all other journalists. The case was brought to court by Apple Computer demanding from a number of news website operators to reveal the source of confidential information posted about some of its products.”

So, bloggers, big and small, organized by mainstream news corporations or passionate individual citizens, were accorded the right to free speech.

Bloggers became legitimized as members of the global system of accessing and delivering news to the public.

So, while a blogger may seem like an individual who may be vulnerable to a large corporation or more powerful and wealthy individuals, their rights to free speech are more protected as a legitimate member of the mass media.

And this is a good thing.

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Dec 23 2011

Ethics and Listservs: Case of Zippy and Bungle in the United Kingdom

I do love the digital age we’re in. A colleague in the United Kingdom responded to one of my ethics posts with an interesting case study.

If you think people, especially psychologists and other therapsts can’t get into ethical trouble writing online in a listserv or blog, think again.

For more on this story, click here and especially  here where you can read the personal diary of one of the therapists who got in trouble.

This is a great story. My colleague tells me there have been all sorts of ramifications related to this case, so I am anxious to read more.

Sorry, to find out who Zippy and Bungle are, you will have to click the links and read more!

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Dec 21 2011

Ethics & Psychotherapy Listservs: 5 Steps Before Signing Up

Listservs create a ready made opportunity for boundary crossings and violations.  

If you decide to explore participating, not just signing up, here are 5 Steps to take to protect yourself, your privacy, and your integrity.

I. Evaluate the Moderator

Usually, there is a single or team of moderators who read, review, approve posts for the listserv and determines when a topic has been exhausted.

You best make sure the moderator is online and really managing the process. If the moderator is not minding the shop, members of the list have a free reign to say almost anything they want.

Trust me. People can make some claims that will make your ears spin. You can tell who is passionate about what by the posts they write.

It can be wonderful and dreadful, and the moderator is the gatekeeper of members comfort zone.

II. Evaluate the Members

Listservs usually identify their purpose and set some rules about membership. If anyone can join, beware of posting.

Listservs which require licensing of the psychotherapists involved are perhaps safer, as each person is speaking the same language with the same general expectations.

III. Members Ethical Duties and Responsibilities

Its possible for a person to be a licensed psychotherapist, but not be a member of their professional organization, in part to avoid having to be ethically accountable to the public.

If a therapist is a member and subscribes to the Ethical standards of their profession through their membership, they are making a promise to the public and the client to practice in an ethical manner.

When a therapist does not subscribe to their professions ethical standards, they simply don’t have to worry about receiving a complaint and having to deal with it.

In fact, some therapists will kind of laugh at someone else who expresses a grievance with them.

IV. Evaluate Why You Want to Join

Therapists join listservs to be more connected, learn about their profession, dialogue online with kindred spirits, market themselves and products, and for more nefarious reasons as well, like internet bullying.

If you are looking to mainly market yourself and practice, it’s best to think of it as kindly and infrequent process.

V. Think Twice

You really have to jump in this pool at the shallow end first, should you think about applying to a listserv. You will learn quickly there is a big difference between a listserv that is moderated and one that is not.

Here are listserv terms and their definitions:

  • Owner: the person who has created, owns, and establishes the rules for the listserv.
  • Moderator: usually the owner, but can be anyone who screens and evaluates each post/message to the listserv for ethical communication.
  • Moderated listserv: a listserv with a moderator who approves or rejects initial posts to listserv by members.
  • Unmoderated listserv: in listserv language this is called “the wild, wild west” of online experiences. There is no moderator and any member can post any message at all to the entire list instaneously. This type of listserv will offend the sensitive, survivors of trauma and irritate the other people online who thinks it’s ok for provacative members to flaunt themselves for the greater glory need they have inside.

Avoid unmoderated listservs….and remember, because the listserv may say there is a moderator, they may be on vacation somewhere and turned the listserv switch to unmoderated.

2 responses so far

Dec 20 2011

Psychology Internet Listservs: When Participants Identify Themselves as Psychologists, Social Workers, Therapists, They Are Bound by Their Respective Ethical Codes

The proliferation of internet listservs for psychologists, social workers and other licensed therapists has posed important ethical challenges, especially in the proper way of acknowledging research discussed, confidentiality, and respectful and courteous professional behavior while online.

There are beginning to be articles written about this topic, as it is a serious matter when a professional violates an ethical boundary, especially while online with perhaps hundreds of colleagues.

When there is a potential infraction, everyone becomes a witness and the data is in black and white and has been read all over.

For a quick read on this evolving issue, click here.

Having participated on a few listservs myself, I have some data to write about and will do so in future postings.

In the meantime, if you are a licensed psychologist/social worker/therapist, it’s very important for you to know that you are bound by your ethical code and can be held accountable.

Obviously, the best way to avoid ethical problems, is to have your own ethical decision-making process in place and a consultant when you may be confused about something.

It’s always best to remain clear about the ethical boundaries of issues and avoid even any hint of a boundary infraction.

Also remember, your professional organization offers free consultation to you and the public to discuss any possible ethical problem and ways to resolve them, either through the filing of a complaint or mediation.


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