Long-time readers will know that I have been fiercely and maybe ridiculously protective of personally-identifiable information belonging to Letters Blogatory readers. For example, I don’t use Google Analytics, relying instead on Piwik so that none of the analytics data I collect go to any third party. I don’t use a third-party email vendor, so those of you who subscribe to Letters Blogatory via email can rest assured that no one but me has your email address. I have turned down some overtures from advertisers who wanted to advertise on Letters Blogatory but who also wanted to collect analytics of their own. And—until now—I have not used “sharing buttons,” those little Twitter or Facebook icons that allow readers to share articles on social media networks with the push of a button. Social sharing buttons allow Twitter, Facebook, et al. to track readers, and I think that’s not really okay, at least without the reader’s express permission.

The key point there is “express permission.” It turns out there is some new software that allows me to include social sharing buttons at the bottom of each post, with a twist. The buttons are greyed-out and inactive unless you, the reader, turn them on. Once you turn on a particular social sharing button, then you will be able to share posts you read on Letters Blogatory, but as with all sharing buttons, the particular social network will then be able to track your visits.

I decided to look into this when my wife, Letters Blogatory email subscriber #1, read my latest post on the Boston Lockdown and wanted to share it on Facebook, only to realize there was no easy way to share it. For better or worse, in 2013 readers expect to be able to share what they read easily, and so I think it is time for me to get with the program, but only in a way that respects your right to privacy on the Internet.

Therefore, effective immediately, you will find greyed-out social sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. If you want to activate one or more of the buttons, click on the button you want to enable, or the wrench icon (which allows you to enable a button permanently). You’ll then be able to share to your heart’s content. I will be updating my terms of service to reflect the change. As of now, the options are Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. I am hopeful that the author of this software will be able to include LinkedIn as well.

Thanks as always for reading!