Gravatars Go Public and Privacy Concerns Arise
The Blogosphere just became much more of a personal place with the announcement of public profiles for everyone on the Gravatar Blog.
With the change, many of the avatars (small images that represent the authors) on blogs and websites will link to a public profile, complete with a biography, contact details and personal links.
The Gravatar service acts as a “centralized identity point.” Rather than uploading avatars and filling in biographies on multiple websites, individuals only need to fill out information in one location (Gravatar.com) and websites will have access to that information.
Websites can choose how to display information retrieved from Gravatar.com. Traditionally, many Gravatar-supporting websites displayed the avatar (small image representation) registered by Gravatar users beside the author's name in comment sections of posts and articles.
Websites are now capable of displaying biographies and other personal information from Gravatar, which may create a privacy issue for some people. Gravatar users who have already filled in biographies will have their information publicly accessible by default.
According to a comment made on the Gravatar blog by Beau Lebens, an employee at Automattic (the company that owns Gravatar), Gravatar is all about identity (unlike Facebook which is a private place for sharing information) and “users have never had an option to explicitly make something private.”
“We’re not suddenly exposing a lot of personal details that used to be private,” Lebens wrote. “The only reason to enter information in Gravatar is if you want it to be open. If you’re not comfortable with that then definitely do not enter it in your Gravatar account.”