So today a 19 year old kid goes and kills himself on a video website. In this thread someone complains that the kid's suicide will hurt their sales! According to the forum that this happened on any good publicity is good publicity. Ha.
OK. But here's how I look at it. Wasn't it MySpace (or Facebook?) who had a big controversy because some cops were lurking in the forums pretending to be 14 years old and some adults "hit on" them? So the site had to do all this revamping to protect the little kids.
In that case, if cops are pretending to be underage, is it not acceptable to pretend to be a predator? They are both pretending, acting a role in the dramatic mode.
And how can I know if this story about the 19 year old is true?
Anyway, the discussion is similar to the Lori Drew incident. A lot of users had encouraged this person to do the suicide and now a lot of other users want the police to come in and investigate those who did the encouraging and have them charged with some crime.
In both cases, it is the individual who is ultimately responsible for their actions.
I have opened a blog in support of Lori Drew who is the defendant in the so-called "cyberbullying" case.
The indictment alleges that Drew and her co-conspirators violated MySpace's terms of service, which require registrants to provide truthful registration information and refrain from soliciting personal information from anyone under 18 or using information obtained from MySpace services to harass or harm other people, among other terms.
If convicted on all four counts, Drew could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
I don't believe that anyone on the Internet should have the right to solicit personal information from me. I reserve my right to anonymity on the web. The privacy of Lori Drew was violated by MySpace. MySpace doesn't make law.
Dead teen's mom testifies in cyberbullying trial
This is a great testimony as to how screwed up the web "community" really is. Should any local court (and in relation to the worldwideweb, even the Supreme Court is local) make laws for this community? I say no. The reason the City of Pootown or the State of Massashitass is making these laws is because they are actual organized bodies. Where can we find that on the Internet?
This is why it is imperative to organize democratically on the web. If laws need to be made for this community, let this community make those laws.
This cyberbullying case is not a case of homicide. The trial is expected to center on the social networking site's terms of service. That's the button that you click when registering that says "I Agree"
What are the issues? What is an agreement? When people sign up for these services do they actually agree to anything? Or do they just click a button to get the account? Can there be an agreement without discussion first? If I am forced to accept the terms in order to get the service, can it be called an "agreement"?
Do the terms of service have the force of law? If I disobey the terms of service, have I broken the law? What law should govern the web? Who should have jurisdiction?
For me this touches the deeper roots of what is wrong with web "community". Where is the agreement between anyone? I don't see it. I see pre-fab agreements that come up when registering for a service but have never been approached by any other individual in the "community" to forge any real agreement. Or when they did, they refused to negotiate the agreement.
These ageements usually state all of the rights that the provider has and all of the rights that the user doesn't have. Do web services betray the public trust by imposing such agreements? I think all roads will lead us back to the issue of "private property".
It may make little difference who owns a service as private property when it comes to writing the rules. This whole system comes down to money and is therefore market driven. It's not about bringing people together. It's about making money.
What if we were to reinterpret the whole system? A platform like Google considers that it is giving me a free service by allowing me to register for a blog. But I feel that the bloggers are doing the service for Google. Blogging drives traffic to their site. So the users should have equal say in the discussion toward any terms of service. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing users.
If the web is market driven, then ultimately it is the providers that must answer to the users.
Obama's Cellphone Account Breached by Verizon Employees
Another major issue is privacy. In the case of the teen suicide, the service provider identified a user who chose to be anonymous. Do these companies have the right to violate the users privacy?
The suicide itself is irrelevant to the issues. I don't like the fact that the issues are being tied to such an emotionally charged circumstance. The implication is that one user's offline actions are the responsibility of another user's online behavior.
There seems to be gross misunderstanding about the way that people want to use the web. There is little that the law says about this but fortunately there is some historical precedence to rely upon in following these legal developments. It might be good to take a closer look at what the web is made of and how different people interpret it's possible uses.
I am going to be following the case of Lori Drew through the superior courts until the "law" is stamped out. So I'll be blogging along with others on the new Support Lori Drew blog. You are invited to stop by and drop off an opinion. Regular posters may be invited into an online civil liberties think tank that I plan on starting. You'll find plenty of links to other bloggers who have opinions about this case on the Support Lori Drew blog.