‘Weblogs or blogs are frequently updated webpages with a series of archived posts, typically in reverse-chronological order. Blog posts are primarily textual, but they may contain photos or other multimedia content. Most blogs provide hypertext links to other Internet sites, and many allow for audience comments.’ (Nardi, Schiano and Gumbrecht, 2004:1) There are generally two types of Blogs: personal blogs are those which resembles online journal or diary; non-personal blogs include forums which concentrates on diverse topics and issues, and commercial Blogs that are used to advertise products and services. For the purpose of this paper, only personal blogs and blog forums will be explored.
Blogging in Singapore has become a phenomenon and its pervasiveness across all ages in our society is evident with popular local Blogs like Mr Brown and Xiaxue having the two highest votes for the Best Asian Blog Award 2005 (The Weblog Award, 2005). However, the increasing popularity of Blogging poses ethical and moral issues such as remarks that are racist or discriminating and contents like nudity and vulgarities are widespread in Blogs.
As such, a blogging code of practice should be developed and clear policing mechanisms put in place to censor unethical controversies that arise from blogs in Singapore.
Situation in Singapore
The non-existent of blogging guidelines have led to the unfair treatment of bloggers. An example will be the case of the 2 Chinese bloggers posting racist remarks while famous blogger Xiaxue also made discriminating remarks on a race and even suggested to ‘ban foreign workers from Orchard Road or City Hall’(Cheng, 2006) because several girls were molested at a New Years Eve Party held in the area. This is but one of the many postings containing such injurious remarks. Despite such comments, Xiaxue’s post was condoned. Although the two blogs commented about different races on different degrees, parallels can be drawn to show that there is no clear benchmark as to when the blogger crosses the line with their posts and will face legal actions.
The flippant use of vulgarities on many popular blogs has undoubtedly reinforced in its young readers the idea that it is acceptable to use vulgarities in their conversations. Currently as there is no regulation or law restricting the use of coarse languages on blogs, hence it is impossible to curb the growing trend in the use of vulgarities without restraint on the blogs. There is also the problem of nudity found on some local blogs. A blogger, who goes by the name of Sarong Party Girl, was the centre of one such controversy when nude pictures of herself posted on her blog was reported in the newspapers. (Lwee, 2005) As long as the there is no restriction on readership, this ethical issue will continue to pose adverse effects on the young audience of blogs. Consequences of Blogging
Knowing that Bloggers address a certain audience, they used attention drawing pictures and contents as a tool to increase readership. A study on blogs has shown that a measurement of prestige is the measure of attention (Goldhaber, 1997). The amount of publicity a Blog receives is a good indication of the high status it enjoys. The ethical question arises when these Bloggers include sexually explicit materials and coarse languages to increase their popularity.
These undesirable contents are a common sight on blogs nowadays and they are not only provocative but are also misleading in sending the wrong message out to a young audience. Allowing such contents on these Blogs will send out the wrong signal to adolescent readers that it is socially acceptable. Therefore being at an impressionable age, they may be easily influenced by such conduct.
Blogs as a Platform for Controversies
With the popularity of Blogs, vast opinions and comments can be easily posted by readers each day. These opinions and comments are...