I have been asked why we decided to make the blog private. Each time I have asked the person why THEY thought we had done it. I quickly realized that imaginations run wild amongst you all and some of the ideas of why were WAY worse (and some more funny) than the real why. So...I'll explain.
I have always had a tracker tool on my blog. It never let me see who was reading, but it would tell me when someone logged on, what city they were in, and if they had come to our blog from a link/google/directly/etc, and if they left through a link. It also did not tell me where people went on the Internet after they left our site, but it did tell me if they clicked on anything in our blog that would take them to another site...and this included if they were clicking on pictures. Clicking on pictures makes them appear as a full screen to the person. It is not uncommon for people to do so, sometimes by accident and sometimes to see a picture better.
A few weeks ago I was up at 2am doing some work. I had the blog up on my screen because I had been working on it earlier. I noticed several new "hits" (there was a little chime noise that would ding for each hit) and so I decided to check out who on earth may also be up at that crazy hour. I quickly saw that it was a computer in Europe. That made sense with the time difference so I didn't think much of it. Then I heard a few more chimes and got curious again. It was the same computer in Europe, but this time they were "leaving" our site by clicking on pictures. I went on to see what pictures they were looking at and it was interesting. There were several looked at, some of regular family stuff, but the last three of one girl in particular. I thought it was odd (and a bit creepy), so I was sure to check each morning for the next week or so and make sure that wasn't occurring in the middle of the night routinely. It wasn't.
Over the weekend I was up again late working on something and again, noticed the chiming of the blog tracker. I looked and again, it was the Europe computer. This time they had looked at six photos. These were from all throughout the blog, from years back to more recent, telling me that this person had spent some time looking around. I got sick when I realized that all six photos were of that same girl...all in swimwear. Nothing even remotely questionable as far as what was in the photos, but come on...
I was creeped out and unable to sleep. I am not a criminal and therefore don't think like one. I laid awake all night wondering what a person could even do with a picture of a kid in a swimsuit. It was a restless night to say the least.
I woke up resigned to take the blog down completely. I talked it over with my husband and he agreed. The more I thought about it, I realized that the blog serves a purpose for us that I don't know how to duplicate. It keeps our family and friends up to date on what is going on here. We have been blessed with many loving people in our lives. If I don't write, I often get 10-15 e-mails a week checking in on us. Answering all of those is almost impossible, and they are all people I want to be up to date. So, making the blog private was the best answer I could come up with. Please, PLEASE contact me if you want to have access to the new blog. We have several folks who we don't see often, haven't seen in years, or are friends-of-friends who we have never met but know have been praying for us for years. We want all of you to be updated too. The privacy setting will allow us to know EVERYONE who has access to our information. Those of you who know me well can already guess that is all in a spreadsheet...and in alphabetical order:)
Several of our friends have had to do the same, or even stop blogging all together for a variety of reasons. It is a shame. There are some really awful people in this world. For those of you who have said, "surely nobody could read your story and STILL victimize you guys. Come on!" Let me assure you they would, in a heartbeat. I am telling this next part with permission from the family involved, to show you how low some folks will go.
Friends of our family lost their precious boy, here's where I would normally put his name but I won't because even that is too public, to Mitochondrial disease last fall. His struggle and amazing life were all well documented on a family blog. Unfortunately, after his death, someone had the gall to steal his identity and claim him as a dependent on their income taxes. This family had to then "prove" that he had been theirs. Unimaginable. Apparently, there are people out there who float around on blogs and websites of sick kids and look for this stuff. They know that when the death certificate becomes public they have access to enough information to then completely victimize a family who is already in grief. Utterly shameful.
So, for those Pollyanna people who think that a criminal will read a sad story, leave those people alone, and move on to someone else, it just isn't so. There are men out there looking for little girls in swimsuits and there is evil in this world strong enough to steal the identity of a dead little boy. Unfortunately, putting a blog post out there that is for public viewing is putting it out there for the college roommates to get updates, the grandmothers and aunts to see the latest cute pictures, the other Mito moms to get and give support, for church groups to see who they are in prayer for, and for thugs and sickos who will stumble across it and do sick things with it.
So, now you all know. For those of you who are saying, "I told you so" please don't ever say that to us...in fact how about NOBODY ever say that to ANYONE about ANYTHING...just one of life's little laws we should all live by:)
For those who are saying, "I just can't believe something like this could happen." it did, and it does every day.
For those of you who blog publicly, please be aware. I know when I started I thought that the worst that could happen was that someone would come and "get us". I knew that chance was slim and I was always careful not to talk about where we lived, where the kids went to school, when we were going to be gone, etc. I now know there is just more to be wary of.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like access to the private site.
Be Blessed. Unless you are a creepy person in Europe with pictures of little girls or looking for a child's identity to steal. Then go and...