Stowaway

on 27 November 2006 at about 8:16

Smartlynchmobs

This item was originally posted on CEMP's Interactive Media Portal on 27 November, 2006.

This news item knows where you live.

revengeInternet mobs that verge on revenge appear to be proliferating. Earlier in the year there was laptopguy who bought a duff laptop on ebay, and after the seller blew off his complaints, posted the seller’s details all over a blog, including the surreptitious photos taken of people’s legs that were left on the hard drive. Then there was the guy who took umbrage at the depiction of him at dontdatehimgirl.com.

This week, not only did some students post their mobile movies of their less-than-favourite tutor on YouTube, but a crowd of blog-readers are closing in on one Ian Goldman, who apparently (ahem… allegedly) ran over a cyclist’s bike in NYC and drove off. All it took was one plate number and a blog-post, and now he’s heading for some street-justice…

What’s the line between citizen-journalism and a lynchmob?

Speaking of which, I’m u-turning on my hitherto contempt for stringent copyright laws if it means being flooded with Cliff Richard recordings in 2008.

Constituo, ergo sum

[Original] Comments

Interesting comments, especially given our discussion on the forum. In the first two examples you provide i think the motivations for those who felt ‘hard done by’ to ‘get one over’ on the person(s) who caused distress, dishonest exchanging of monies, or some personal defamation of character – their motives for wanting some sort of justice (or revenge?) are understandable, and although not necessarily justifiable are definitiley allowed to occur through the nature of the web. In the first instance, from your summary it seems the man who sought revenge was conned. As a non-user of ebay i don;t know what protection is in place to help at times like that, but im aware there are peer generated reviews of sellers bahaviour, so i’d imagine there may be other measures too. Now if the conned man, bought something from a poorly rated seller, then one could argue he was partly to blame as he did poor reseach or took risks, alternatively if there was nothing to warn him of the imending con, then i can see how he might be rather annoyed, and by posting the details of the conman seller, well he is preventing others from falling victim to the same person too (unless he easily adopts another username/identity on ebay which id imagine would be quite easy!). As you havent given the details im not sure how many private details were provided or whether any laws were broken. As for the second one, i could imagine that sites like dontdatehim are no doubt filled greatly with comments from people who have been spurned or want to get revenge after discvering a love interest has gone sour or is not reciprocated in some way – it’s blatently open to be abused in such ways, and again as you didnt give the details i dont know if the man you mention was defending his name, or was in fact guilty and trying to cover it up.

Either way, its a sad state of affairs if people use ebay or other web sites without first devoting any time to how easy it might be to be conned, or suffer a negative experience, or get caught up in some mallicious senario as a result of getting involved in personal dicreditations (like on dontdatehim). Fialing to recognise the bias of comments made by the public is what leaves people exposed to an elemet of vulnerability. In the cases you provide there is a saying which goes “fool me wrong once, shame on you. Fool me wrong twice, shame on me.� If the ebay victim didnt learn where he went wrong, then he’s as risk of being conned time and time again. And if the woman who posted about the guy who then saught revenge, did it insincerely and does it again, and that guy also exposes her, then a time may come where her own credibility will be called into question. Some say it is karma, others may call it justice, although on the flip side of course, two wrongs don;t make a right so trying to rally hate as revenge for one wrong doing is neither really right or fair justice.

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