Privacy Shmivacy

My questions on privacy policy and practices remain unanswered in light of the shadycat episode. In fact, the political damage inflicted by the disclosure seems to justify the cost/return of outing anonymous posters  and further generates local media coverage by the Recorder and local radio to amplify the political damage. For WCSS, a ‘win-win’ all around.
Let me pose the question a different way: I know the identity of an anonymous public official who made insulting and offensive comments; am I justified releasing their name? (not that I will) If said person was on the opposite side of your political party — you choose– would you support WCSS and the Recorder in running the story? What standard do you use to ‘draw the line’ of disclosing identities? For local media covering this story, what level of commentary rises to the level of compelling public interest to disclose? And on  and on….
Here my questions sit, cold, alone and unanswered still:
– Was shadycat’s identity revealed by the blog administrator or host? If so, to whom was that information revealed?
-Does shadycat’s characterization of South Side residents justify a public disclosure of comments made anonymously? If so, must we then disclose the identity of anonymous blog posters whose comments we find insulting or distasteful?
-Will public disclosure of anonymous commenters only apply to the Web or does the same standard apply to radio callers?
-Will WCSS adopt similar tools for their anonymous callers such as caller ID to  discover their identity ? Does WCSS employ caller ID  for their radio shows? Does WCSS keep a record of such calls and callers? How about WVTL as well?
-What privacy policies do local radio stations adopt for their anonymous callers? And other blogs?

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28 Responses

  1. NobleFire says:

    There is no doubt that the person accused of writing such things has operated under the name Shadycat. On Mr. Going’s blog the links to such proof are posted. To answer the questions asked here goes.
    1. The identity was revealed by a google search.
    2. Since the disclosure wasn’t on part of an administrator but was public information on the web, it is public information.
    3. Disclosure is up to the Radio station like it was up to a citizen to search for the public information.
    4. Since the information was made available about shadycat by an individual with a show, NOT the radio station, this question doesn’t apply.
    5. Its obvious they don’t have a policy to reveal callers and they didn’t reveal this person either so this question doesn’t apply again. The information was by an individual not a radio station.

    • MJD says:

      Technically, it’s always an individual who says the words- should management never be held responsible for what goes on at the station? I’m sure the management at the radio station was consulted, they certainly knew it was going to happen, they could have stopped it but they chose not too. Good or bad, right or wrong, they condoned and facilitated the act. Without managements blessing Mike Chiara would have “outed” Shadycat only to those within the sound of his natural voice.
      Frankly, I’m a little surprised how comfortable the station management is with an “outing”.

  2. As the issue of possible site administration involvement was brought up here, I’d like to take a moment to address it.
    I own and operate amsterdamit.com, where the controversial shadycat post was originally written. Under NO circumstances have I ever given out ANY information on any of my board’s members!
    No information on anyone at amsterdamit will be made available to any third party, unless they are law enforcement, coming equipped with the proper paperwork.
    For that matter, I had no idea who shadycat was, and when I made my best guess (which I kept to myself) it turns out I was wrong.
    Shadycat and I have exchanged emails and PMs in the past, which have also been kept strictly between the two of us.
    Also for the record, while I generally do not have as much respect for an opinion written under the guise of anonymity as I do one coming from an author who is up front with their identity, I fully respect an individual’s right to remain anonymous and I can understand why some people may wish to do so.
    I recently had a bit of spirited give and take on my own site with a member who chooses to remain anonymous. At no point did I feel the need or desire to try and find out the poster’s actual identity. We stated our differences, had a little row and went on our way. If this – or any other – person wants to remain anonymous, I have no issue with that, nor any desire to “out” them.

  3. Alex says:

    The evidence gathered only shows that the person in question had used the name shadycat on previous post. It fails to prove that the one post that individuals are concerned about was written by that person. Anyone could log onto any blog and use anyname they want. This entire controversy is a very silly political game that reflects badly on both political parties, WCSS and the Recorder. This outing of shadycat on very flimsy evidence for just one blog post reminds me of the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. Quote below
    “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or recklessness….”
    When McCarthy resumed his attack, Welch cut him short:
    “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator…. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
    So I ask those who participate in these childish tactics “Have you left no sense of decency?
    Flippin- No one will be able to answer your questions. It comes all down to integrity. You have it, others don’t.

    • NobleFire says:

      I am from the southside and I’m insulted about what was written about the hard working, taxpaying businesses that I take pride in. You don’t like that I’m insulted then too bad. The questions have been answered Alex.

      • Alex says:

        I never said someone can’t disagree with a blog post or even be insulted. The fact of the matter remains you or no one else have shown any actual proof that the ONE BLOG POST in question can be attributed to any particular person. I am from Amsterdam and are roots consist of hardworking individuals with outstanding family businesses. I grew up with the motto treat others the way you want to be treated. So if I had information that someone may have written an insulting message about me, my friends and family I would simply ask the person in question, and ask them for an apology. An apology written on the blog site would suffice. You must admit that the way this was handled was way overboard and not fitting to the great community we all live in. The Amsterdamdamit blog administrator in this thread said he was wrong when he was guessing who he thought shadycat was. Anyone can log in with anyname so there remains a strong possibility that the wrong person was identified. And even if you do have the right person I will argue that privately settling a dispute arisen from a private blog is the best route to go.

  4. I can only address the first two issues, and the answers are no and no. Now, that second answer may surprise you. Ordinarily I would not be in favor of outing obnoxious commenters, but I do think a different standard applies when the person holds a high public position with direct influence over the outcome of the issue discussed. By this time I’ve pretty much figured out who everyone is among the regulars. It’s a little more difficult on livejournal because there are no pen names, just “anonymous”.
    But back to my point. When you are the chairman of a major political party, a self-described “Karl Rove”, when you are the principal adviser to the sitting mayor and principal apologist, and you use language and betray prejudices which are reprehensible and indefensible, then, yeah, the public has the right to know. She had plenty of time and opportunity to retract her comments, or smooth them a bit, whether anonymously or publicly. In the end, she chose to out herself by identifying herself as shadycat, barely more than a month ago, when the controversy had been brewing for some time. For those of you who think there’s even a shadow of a doubt that it was she who said what she said, holy crap I don’t know what more you need.
    I’d been pretty convinced it was Bethany for some time, but said nothing to give her every benefit of the doubt. Even when she was (Rove-like?) spreading disinformation on my own blog, I let it go.
    Bethany has in her public life always treated politics as a take-no-prisoners blood sport. She has harmed a good many people for the fun of it. I don’t believe in karma, but if there is such a thing, it’s caught up with her.
    As for your other questions, I’m not at liberty to speak for the radio stations. These days, though, I think most everyone has some form of caller ID, and its really not a fair comparison because it’s a lot easier to disguise your writing style than it is your voice. The regular callers we (in the business)all know without having to resort to electronic analysis. This is a small town, after all.

  5. loyalsouthsider says:

    It was a simple google search folks, fair game for discussion by anyone at anytime. If Bethany was just the average citizen it would be no big deal, but she represents the Democrats of Montgomery County and once served as a legislative aid to Paul Tonko. Unfortunately someone in this position is held to a higher standard. There are democrats and business owners on the south side that are very unhappy with her behavior… as they should be. This whole thing is more than bizarre… it is like this chick was posting through some child like alter ego or something.

  6. Alex says:

    use language and betray prejudices which are reprehensible and indefensible
    These are your words above. In this debate they talked about 1 blog post. Do you have other blog post that foul language was used? Racial comments? The totality of shadycats post have they been as you describe constantly offensive? I don’t know the answers to any of the above.
    You admit that the motive of the outing was political payback.
    I will argue that your evidence is inconclusive.
    So we can agree to disagree. I believe this entire event and the attack lodged was reprehensible and indefensible.
    I don’t believe 2 wrongs make a right.
    So I stand by my position that this debacle portrays both political parties, WCSS and the Recorder in a bad light.

    • I make no such admission. WHere do you get “political pay-back”? The people she offended most are Democrats, for heaven’s sake.
      And I have zero personal animus toward Bethany. I’ve always gotten along with her just fine. I actually liked some of the things she did as my supervisor.

      • Alex says:

        My mistake- With the strong language you used to describe her you can see how I could conclude that you had some animosity towards her. I will take your word that you have no personal animus toward Bethany. So then you must agree then that perhaps the best way to handle the situation was to simply go to her and tell her that she posted 1 blog post that offended people. That way all this could have been handled behind the scenes. After all the public is more interested in solving problems then watching political fights both between and with-in political parties. After all Montgomery County is among the highest taxed County in the Country. Public probably wants local political parties working together to fight the State mandates and to fight against the increases in taxes at both the State and Federal level. Are you content with the rising Federal debt? Are you happy with the State Senate shutting down due to political antics? Perhaps now is the time for local Dems and Pubs to join together to fight against the overwhelming tax burden being placed upon us by higher level of governments. Sorry- I am a frustrated citizen who much rather hear constructive political debate on WCSS and constructive political coverage in the Recorder. I wish you the best in your upcoming election.

  7. Karin says:

    When did the people of Amsterdam, become so divided and so obviously angry at each other?
    This city does not feel like Amsterdam anymore. You can just feel the tension everywhere in this city. It’s almost like an aura.
    I wish that our city was like it used to be. Neighborly neighbors, who were nice to each other. When did this city change so much?
    This may sound really corny but, I wish it was 1977 again. Life here was still boring for a teenager, but when I think of how nice this city was back then, it brings tears to my eyes.
    We all new our neighbors, and if someone passed away on our street, my mother would go door to door and collect money from friends to send flowers to the funeral home. I truly miss that type of community.
    Who new that four years ago, when I decided to move back “home” to Amsterdam, that it would have changed so much. I was blinded my my memories.
    Amsterdamian’s, please be kinder to one another, the way we used to be.

    • loyalsouthsider says:

      We still have that good old neighborhood on the south side. We know our neighbors, and we care about each other. According to Bethany this is a bad thing. In her comment she knocked every aspect of a good neighborhood, ie. because we on the south side happen to be close, we all know each others business, and all think with one small brain, etc.
      You ask why our city is divided? It is because we have people like Bethany,who does not use rational thinking, and makes vile comments about a whole community and its businesses… that is why! A community she knows absolutely nothing about. Believe me, the people or business owners on the south side have done nothing to Bethany to deserve her vicious comments. As a professional and a person so involved in politics,one would think that she would have used better judgment.

      • Alex says:

        Wow- You think one comment on a blog deserves such a reaction? Many southsiders are tired of this public fight. I guess you didn’t consider simply talking to her directly in a civil manner as a viable option? The southside is a great neighborhood I enjoyed it greatly during my childhood and still believe it is among the best neighborhoods in the City. Great people, great Bocci, and great food. I only hope we can get by this angry rhetoric. We probably have to wait until after the elections. You know how politicians are.

  8. awish4amsterdam says:

    Have you talked to someone wearing a tape recorder?
    Think about it.
    🙂

  9. bethany says:

    I would like to say for the record that I did not post to Mr. Going’s blog, despite his claim that I recently posted to it.
    Should I decide to post to his blog in the future, I will be sure to use my name.

    • loyalsouthsider says:

      For the record… you owe the south side residents and business owners an apology. The vile remarks that were made were uncalled for.
      These people are your own constituents, you represent them as the Democratic chair, THEY ARE DEMOCRATS… HELLO…and because they simply disagree with a certain project you ridicule their businesses and call them stupid? Forget that you just graduated from law school, it seems you need to go back to sand box 101 and learn how to “play nice and not call others (your own constituents no less) names” and to allow people to have their own opinion, after all, this is still America.
      You once made another comment on this very same site to someone saying they had clearly not learned a lesson. I hope that you have clearly learned your lesson…it is too bad that it was at the expense of your political career. For the sake of your party, you really need to step down from the position as Dem County Chair. At this point, I cannot imagine anyone running for office would do anything but run as far away from you as possible, as it is seems you represent the hate that truly divides our city.

      • MJD says:

        I’ve heard Joe Isabel, among others, say similar things about the East End. Should Joe Isabel resign for calling the East End “disgraceful” and (I’m paraphrasing now) that anyone who drove through the East End would never want to live in Amsterdam?
        About a year ago Joe Isabel was on the radio ranting “Why would any young person want to live in Amsterdam? Why? Can anyone tell me why they would want to live here?” The South Side is part of Amsterdam so he had to be talking about the South Side too. Are you offended by that?
        What about the comments he made directly about the South Side? Comments to the affect that in the summer it “stinks like fish” and with the trains coming through blowing their whistles nobody would want to live there if they could afford another option. I don’t remember anyone getting all worked up then. Why not? Should Mr. Isabel resign?

  10. Karin says:

    Awish,
    Who are you asking this question to?

  11. awish for amsterdam says:

    Karin,
    He knows who he is.
    AW

  12. Bill Sheehan says:

    Since when is blogging and outing bloggers front page news and worthy of such an extended debate?
    At WCSS caller ID is not used to hold “anonymous” callers to account for their comments.
    As for management “allowing” Mike Chiara to pursue his latest witchhunt…it’s highly unlikely. Mike is the definition of loose cannon [nothing personal Mike].
    In my time working in this city, it never ceases to amaze me how easily Amsterdamians are distracted from important and even pressing issues by the likes of who is blogging what.
    The city would do better if you would all get your heads into the real game out there.

  13. Karin says:

    I agree. Really, let it go and hope for a sincere apology. I’m sure that Bethany wishes she never wrote what she did and I’m sure if she could take back the words, she would, in a heartbeat (ps…I do not personally know Bethany).
    There are so many more pressing issues in this city to worry about. Maybe this would be the time to come (back) together as a community, forgive and (try) to forget this topic. Everone in this city knows that the restaurants on the southside of the city ARE very nice places to dine and the people of the southside ARE very good people.
    It was plain old bad judgement.
    Why don’t we all meet at the “Neighborhood Watch” meeting at city hall in August, shake hands, introduce ourselves to each other and start from scratch. WE can all make a difference here in our city if we could just let bygones be bygones. Lets (for one evening), put this aside and try to be a better community.
    This would be the perfect time to get together as “neighbors” and come together as “friends”. Let’s try to let go of this Amsterdam stigma and move into another direction. A POSITIVE one.
    BTW, I used to find it offensive when “Chet” would refer to Amsterdam as “Mayberry”, but no so anymore. With all that is happening to our city, Mayberry sounds like a very nice place to live. Let’s try to be more like Mayberry, it couldn’t hurt. Right?

  14. F.George says:

    “Political gorilla dust” It certainly is a great way to redirect the publics attention from all the nonsense going on in this city. Its a dead city we live in and soon to be ghost town. We can hope we are absorbed by the town of amsterdam.
    Get out there and vote people, start knocking these social elitists from their posts and make change happen. Everyone seems to forget that these people make a living off of you,the taxpayer.
    For the record. I think Popeyes chicken is fine dining. And would be a very profitable franchise here in good old Amsterdam. Put it right next to Wal-Mart. Do I sound like a racist or do I sound aware of surroundings? Call it what you like because I’m not in the business of having to be P.C.
    And to answer Fa’s question, yes you should make the identities of public comments made by the “opposing” party’s spinsters known. Why? Because you can.
    Internet etiquette is an issue that cannot be enforced except by very people who administer these blog/chat pages.
    If you think you NEED to correct my grammar or punctuation,feel free cuz I don’t care.

  15. Karin says:

    Sorry. Amsterdam is not dead yet. Many of us hope to pull it back together one day. But, with attitudes such as yours, it may take longer than we would like. I, like many of my friends, have made an investment in this city by purchasing homes and starting small businesses. I can’t afford to listen to your negativity. I have too much at stake to lose. A lot of us do. Your “I don’t care” attitude is what is making this city go in the wrong direction. Sorry.

  16. flippinamsterdam says:

    F.George,
    you are done. I warned you before. Game over
    FA

  1. July 19, 2009

    […] poop on this situation, you can read about it by checking out this story in the Recorder, following this thread and this thread on the anonymously hosted blog Flippin’ Amsterdam, this post by former […]

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