How in the World of Social Networking can we keep our Anonymity?

How, in this world of social networking can we keep our anonymity? Don’t want my anonymity disclosed via “requests” 

Great question! Recognizing the emerging challenges posed by the ongoing evolution of electronic media, theAl-Anon-Alateen Service Manual (P-24, pages 83-84) was updated in 2008 to include (among other guidance) the following:

  • “It is Al-Anon/Alateen policy to interpret Tradition Eleven to include the Internet as well as all forms involving public media.”
  •  “On any Web site accessible to the public, whether an Al-Anon site or not, members’ full names and faces are not posted if they are identified as Al-Anon/Alateen members.”

And

  • “In keeping with Tradition 11, members who use this type of communication outlet must maintain their personal anonymity and that of any Al-Anon/Alateen or A.A. member, as the Internet is a form of media.”

Edits, in their entirety, will be published in the next reprint of the Service Manual. In the meantime, all edits – including those pertaining to anonymity and the Internet – can be found on the members’ page of the WSO Web  site: www.al-anon.alateen.org/members (password is any word(s) you choose followed by “AFG”).

Please share this information with your group. Many may not be aware of this update or the resources available on the members’ page of the Web site. And it’s another example that the answers to any of our program-related questions are in the Service Manual or other CAL.

The World Service Conference at its 2010 annual meeting this April gave conceptual approval to a motion from the Literature Committee for a major revision of the  pamphlet “Why Anonymity in Al-Anon?” (P-33). Discussion of  anonymity in the context of electronic media will certainly be addressed.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of keeping it simple, it might help to think of this matter as another opportunity to “practice these principles in all our affairs. For example:

  • Choices – there is no requirement that we add our e-mail information to a group, district or area contact list. We  have a choice. Nor is there any requirement to accept an invitation to “friend” a program member or group on any social networking website. We always have a right to say “no.”
  • Communication – “Talk to each other. Reason things out with one another.” Chances are, other members of your group have the same questions about this matter. Discussing these questions, and sharing ways of approaching this challenge, sounds like a wonderful opportunity to be of service to your group. Members who are active with  Al-Alateen groups—who are probably much more involved in social networking than some of us “old timers” — may want to discuss the challenges of maintaining anonymity as well as the opportunities of practicing the 11th Tradition and public outreach in this context.
  • Boundaries – program teaches us to create and maintain healthy boundaries. If something feels uncomfortable (such as potential breaches of anonymity through social networking) we have a responsibility to ourselves to voice our feelings, be clear about those concerns and what is or is not acceptable to us. By the same token, remember that we have a responsibility to respect the boundaries other members set around this matter.

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