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An Interesting News Report

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Omniscient1

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http://digitallife.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/14/11701211-facebook-mom-trolled-so-badly-she-sues-to-stop-the-madness?lite

Basically, A British woman shared encouraging words with a reality show tv star who was being trolled in Facebook. This resulted in the trolls launching their verbal attacks against her. They set up a fake facebook account with her picture and began harassing her. Now the woman has obtained a lawyer and looks to prosecute those responsible. Facebook already shut down the fake page, but they seem to think they can go after these people and punish them.

Considering even our own internet community has ran into problems like this; Where do we draw the line between free speech and protecting innocent people? I'm sure there are quite a few of you who know legally what exactly they can and can't do so I'll avoid that question, but morally where does the line end?

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I fully agree with jerdge - but I think it's also important to differentiate between slander and genuine criticism. In this particular case, it doesn't look like there's any confusion; one comment of encouragement should never draw this sort of fire. But I think it's also important to be able to level with someone and tell them that something is wrong with what they're doing. That sort of thing is becoming harder to do in our society because so many criticisms are taken as insults somehow.

I guess I'm saying that any system supporting free speech should especially protect critical speech that has a basis in fact.

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Making a fake account is obviously over the line. That is equivalent to identify theft... and the culprits should be responsible for any damage caused as a result of it (including the damage caused by slander/defamation).

Regular slander, though (outside of other illegal activity), seems outside the realm of law... unless she can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her well-being has been harmed by it, and also that each of the slanderous accusations is false. Not easy to do in court... even if everyone on the internet was under the same legal system. :v:

I also wager that most slanderous internet people are bums with very little net worth (pardon the slander :P )... so private lawsuits might not be worth the trouble. Unless she is looking to have them prosecuted criminally by the state.

None of what I just said is worth a dime legally, of course (I'm just giving an opinion).

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The internet has thrust us into new realms of law theory and application.

But I think in the majority of cases, people need less laws and more toughening up. Nobody likes being harassed or insulted, but the right to free speech is safeguarded by being tough enough to handle other people's words. It's just words, usually of little value, not a lynching mob.

In most electronic mediums, it's a simple matter to ignore other people who let their lack of empathy and childishness run them.

If I say something that pisses some one off, but they insist on mouth frothing antics because they can't construct a reasonable counter argument, then they can $%&@ off, it's not my problem.

Likewise, if I say something that some people feel the need to ridicule or mock, again, not really my problem. I won't be embarrassed for stating how I feel about something.

And neither should anyone else.

As for having your name and address displayed, like the lady in the article, it's nothing more than a pathetic attempt at intimidation. And, if you don't want any information used against you, don't be posting pictures of your kid and !@#$ on public profiles.

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I've seen such trolling ruin lives of a few people I know. It's really sad. There's a line between pranks and throwing insults for fun, and bullying/slandering someone to the point that it starts affecting their career and relationships.

Freedom of speech is a completely stupid argument here. Freedom of speech is meant to allow people to tell the truth without being punished or speak up against injustice. When it's obviously used for bullying, it's just abusing rights.

And, if you don't want any information used against you, don't be posting pictures of your kid and !@#$ on public profiles.

This doesn't apply in this day and age. Heck, Google alone stalks the hell out of your very private personal information and their privacy policy is basically "if you don't like it, don't use it".

I remember 15 years back as a kid, when we were told to never use personal details in emails ever for safety reasons. These days, you'd be severely crippling your career and social options if you were to keep personal details out of email. Gmail itself reads a lot of company emails. I'd like to download an app that tells me when the next movie at the local cinema is showing, but in exchange, I'd have to give them my location and phone conversation logs.

Probably within 5 years, all this info will become increasingly public, and it's already way too fricking easy to stalk people. I mean, these days, I've been able to find very personal info about people who are interviewing on the radio or random 'anonymous' chatters on IRC, just with a quick 10 min search. Even if it's not posted by the person directly, it's through their family members or things like voting/tax databases online. I've pinned down the house numbers and family members of people in CN just by knowing their first name, minor job details, city, and/or mutual friends/interests.

Not so much a matter of don't give people information to abuse, but adopting to the fact that information to abuse will be freely available.

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I see a big difference between Facebook and CN. Here people rarely deal with their real lives and (generally speaking) most people keep criticisms "in character" and game related.

Facebook, on the other hand, is real life based. Setting up a fake Facebook account is WAY over the line and I'd guess there are real damages involved in terms of the woman's reputation. It's not uncommon for people to use Facebook to gather information about others for various reasons. If nothing else, it probably took a significant amount of time for her to at least inform people that it isn't her.

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I see a big difference between Facebook and CN. Here people rarely deal with their real lives and (generally speaking) most people keep criticisms "in character" and game related.

I was just referring to legal action over slander from internet sources. I understand the two episodes are widely different. Just thought it was interesting to get everyone's ideas on where trolling becomes excessively malicious. :)

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I've seen such trolling ruin lives of a few people I know. It's really sad.

Being offended by something is a choice. You might not like what some one says, especially if it is slanderous, but it's ultimately up to you if it causes emotional pain.

Mahatma Gandhi: They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.

When it's obviously used for bullying, it's just abusing rights.

What is the deciding factor between bullying or not? I am bombarded at all times by intrusive, insulting, messages from advertisers on every medium and every billboard outside trying to manipulate my opinions and influence my buying habits. Is that bullying?

This doesn't apply in this day and age. Heck, Google alone stalks the hell out of your very private personal information and their privacy policy is basically "if you don't like it, don't use it".I remember 15 years back as a kid, when we were told to never use personal details in emails ever for safety reasons. These days, you'd be severely crippling your career and social options if you were to keep personal details out of email. Gmail itself reads a lot of company emails. I'd like to download an app that tells me when the next movie at the local cinema is showing, but in exchange, I'd have to give them my location and phone conversation logs.Probably within 5 years, all this info will become increasingly public, and it's already way too fricking easy to stalk people. I mean, these days, I've been able to find very personal info about people who are interviewing on the radio or random 'anonymous' chatters on IRC, just with a quick 10 min search. Even if it's not posted by the person directly, it's through their family members or things like voting/tax databases online. I've pinned down the house numbers and family members of people in CN just by knowing their first name, minor job details, city, and/or mutual friends/interests.Not so much a matter of don't give people information to abuse, but adopting to the fact that information to abuse will be freely available.

Nothing on the internet has ever been private nor will it ever be. Almost every bit of data transferred is intercepted by ECHELON and through the various sigint organs as provided by the UKUSA Agreement.

That said, the internet is not a right. Like the automobile, it is a very useful tool, and being able to operate one or the other gives a great advantage in working and organizing life. But it is not a right. Don't want the consequences of posting your face or contact details? Don't use it.

You may not know this but back in the day, and in some places even now, if you want to conduct certain commercial or licensing activities, you had to take a page out in the local paper to print your intention and reveal your name and address.

If people want to use these tools, they should be grown up enough to handle the flak that comes with it. I cannot think of a single thing that other people could try to do, short of credit card fraud, that couldn't be easily rectified by an explanation.

But here's my main point, and I'm not saying that what those little !@#$% did was cool or OK, it was obviously childish and aimed at hurting the lady. But my point is this. If people can't toughen up in regards to this "internet bullying" and other horse!@#$, they will start yammering about making laws to "protect" themselves from these... words. And when that happens, it affects everybody. Already many organizations are trying to, are implementing, or already have implemented anti-anonymous platforms.

Is that what you want? Because that is the obvious end result behind this sort of "outrage" perpetuated the media systems. The wild west of the internet is under pressure to be ever tamed, commercialized, and regulated.

I, personally, prefer my internet anonymous. Sure it comes with some baggage like having to deal with other anonymous trolls, but I can handle that in return for partial privacy.

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You can ignore bullying all you want. But other people won't, especially with slander. That's my point. The more you 'toughen up' and ignore it, the more damage it causes.

I've seen people who were ostracized IRL just because someone accused of being child molesters. There's absolutely no chance for such people to get a job working with children if they pop up on even a prank 'sex offender registration' app. If you have a reputation as a rapist, and a dozen trolls who would attest to it, you're going to have a hard time trying to get engaged to someone or trying to get a job when the first google search for your name turns up a blog criticizing your sexual preferences.

Things like the Biodad controversy crosses the line when it starts becoming real. Trolling and teasing is within someone's rights, but when people actually start believing the accusations put forward - especially with character-based accusations like being bad parents - it starts to have very real results. They lose credibility, people won't trust them, it strains relationships with family and friends.

Words can have a very real physical effect.

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I don't have much to add to this discussion, I just wanted to tell Omni he's brought up a very good question. This is among the better blog questions I've seen here. Credit where due, Omni.

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In the end, free speech is free speech. Not, free speech as long as i approve. You cant just decide to take away someones freedom of speech because you dont like what they are saying. Thats not how it works. They are free to say what they want whether you like it or not and you just have to deal with it. (Notice i didnt address whether i felt what they did was right or wrong. Because it doesnt matter)

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This could very much be equated to hitting someone. Morally, you are free to do a lot so long as is does not hurt someone. So my right to throw a punch ends when it connects with your nose. People do need to toughen up but at the same time, others need to grow the $%&@ up.

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It's defamation of character. Simple stuff, free speech doesnt give you the right to say whatever you want. Like it or not, there are limitations on it and rightfully so.

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