First off, apologies for this post’s title. It had to be done, though. On Monday, LiveJournal was sold to a Russian company. When I first read about it, one eyebrow raised slightly, but I didn’t think much of it. Then I started noticing comments coming in from my friends and colleagues talking about how they felt about it.
A former coworker of mine, icon, who was born in Russia, expressed his concern about the purchase. He casts doubts on Russia’s privacy laws and a Russian company’s concern in adhering to what laws there are. I was expecting him to speak up on this issue, and am glad to have his input. Luis Villa also throws in his thoughts, as well as the thoughts of a former coworker of his. Luis knows his way around law, free speech, and free software, so I was also looking forward to hearing what he thought.
My take on it is that we can’t be certain to trust LiveJournal with our private information any longer, nor can we safely consider them reputable librarians of our thoughts and ideas that we’re sharing with the world through blogs. I have a handful of friends who are deep into LJ, but I think if there’s a good time to move your stuff off to another site, it’s now. Six Apart — the company who previously owned LiveJournal — also owns both Vox and TypePad, which provide similar user experiences to LJ but are still held by an American company. There’s also Google‘s very popular Blogger, which is where Icon’s moved to, and I think Google’s as trustworthy as any other company at the moment. I personally run the open-source WordPress software hosted on a server that I share, but I understand that’s beyond many people’s technical skills, for whom I recommend WordPress.com, run by the company under whose stewardship the similarly named software currently rests.
All of those options are, so far as I’m aware, either entirely free (as in $0) or free for a certain basic level of service. If you know otherwise, or if you have any other ideas, please leave comments. Your personal data, as well as your thoughts, are too important to leave in the hands of someone you can’t trust.