Monday, April 16, 2007

Are we giving "cyber-bullies" free reign?

I have shared with many of you in person my interested in breaking open the dialog between the web public and the local media. This blog began that way and in only one week I was forced to filter the remarks made. They were not particularly terrible, still, it became clear the blog needed to be moderated to stay on point.
The blogosphere is the new frontier allowing anyone with the desire to become a news seeker and/or maker. But in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times which a family member sent to me, it is clear "cyber-bullies" as The Times call them could have had a negative effect on the blogosphere.
The target was Kathy Sierra a software expert who cancelled her keynote speech at a technology conference in San Diego afraid to leave her home in Boulder, Colorado. If you are interested in reading the details click here http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-internet31mar31,1,5007247.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
This article makes me ask you the question, do you think the personal attacks made on some of the blogs in central Louisiana warrant the branding of "cyber-bullies" and what can we do to stop them?
As always I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

4 comments:

dlc said...

seems to me that they should be called what they are. Cowards. Lively debate is one thing, personal insults, a totally different animal. With that being said, yes, i do still think "we saw that " is a quack and an anti-catholic and anti semite. most of the ones that hide behind the anonymity of thier blog posts would not have the intestinal fortitude to say those things to someone in person.

Pawpaw said...

The World Wide Web gives a mask of anonymity to most people who post comments in blogs. While it is technically feasible to track a blog comment, the programs needed and the expertise available are beyond the common user. With being anonymous comes the feeling that you can attack someone without any restraint.

It's called trolling, and most bloggers dismiss it as a juvenile rant. Many of us don't treat it as a viable threat, unless there are other reasons to do so. The best way to deal with cyber-bullies is to expose them to the light. Like roaches, they tend to scurry away when spotlighted.

Anonymous said...

Blogs can also give balance to "real-life" bullies. They can give a voice to those who are to afraid to tell the truth, or give an opinion in person, but who have input and an opinion.

Greg Aymond said...

Anonymous Blog posts are commonly used to defame and spread political falsities. It is too easy to hide behind anonynimity and feel safe from accountability for what one posts on a blog. Clearly, a cvil suit for defamation is one of the best tools to enforce decency upon those that lack it.
In my practice, I have had several people contact me that were victims of anonymous defamation on a blog. The first thing I tell them is that there is immunity, under federal law, for a blog owner for posts on his blog made by others. However, federal law does allow the exposure of the identity of a poster via a valid state court subpoena for that information. What that means, in Louisiana, is that a lawsuit must forst be filed, against an anonymous defendant, and then discovery been sent to Google, for example, to obtain the ISP address of the anon poster. Google may not maintain those addresses no longer than one year, which is also the time allowed to bring a defamation lawsuit in this state. Once the ISP is obtained from Google, Bellsouth for example, the actual identity of the defendant can, perhaps, be established. As you can see, such can be a somewhat costly endeavor. Several local lawyers have met and discussed these issues, as well as with an LSU law professor. As blogs are a relatively new technology, legal procedure have not yet caught up with it.
Recognizing that blog have a great potential for misuse, several national suggestions for a code of blog ethics have been suggested. Basically, these have been modified from codes for journalists. See: http://rconversation.blogs.com/COBE-Blog%20Ethics.pdf and http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php. Such codes, however, are voluntary. Unfortunately, laws come into being because some people lack the ability or desire to enforce morality or ethics upon themselves and society must step in.