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The Internet is not an excuse
As many are learning about tonight, a well-respected blogger, Kathy Sierra, has received numerous vile and life-threatening comments both on her own blog, as well as on other blogs. (Details at the link above). These comments and blogs even involve prominent, well-known bloggers. The horrendous and disturbing words and images that have been used against her are absolutely shocking.
I love the Internet. However, the Internet is NOT an excuse for vile or violent behavior. Anonymity gives no one the right to cross the lines of decency, nor does it give anyone the liberty of violence against others. Four days ago, I commented on one of my own posts, in which I said:
The blogosphere is still in its toddler stage, and the toddlers are still learning how to play well together. (And that refers to all of us, btw). The conversations we have online should be no less respectful than those we have face to face.
At the time, I was talking about bloggers simply sniping at one another, but it applies here as well. We absolutely cannot, and must not, tolerate these kinds of comments on our forums, sites, and blogs. As site owners, we must do everything we can to prevent this kind of thing from happening. I've added a chicklet to the very top of my blog, claiming SEO Scoop to be a Safe Zone. In honor of Kathy, I've created the chicklet using colors from her own blog. Feel free to save it and upload it to your own sites, if you wish. If you don't know how to do that, you can also hotlink it.
This paragraph is for Kathy, and for all the Kathys of the world who are victimized by violent criminals (and yes, the people who did this to Kathy ARE criminals). Kathy, I completely understand your fear. Twenty-eight years ago, I was a victim of a horrible, violent crime. Although it wasn't obvious to the rest of the world, I lived in fear 24/7. I developed insomnia that still grips me today. I spent years being bound with fear. Eventually, I took my life back when I signed up for some self-defense classes. Although I am still "cautious", the fear has been replaced with empowerment. You have every reason to be fearful, Kathy. But don't wait years to turn the fear into empowerment, like I did. After a bit of time, check with your local law enforcement agencies. The sheriff's department in my area holds free self-defense classes for women. Perhaps your's does too. If not, find out who does. Regardless of whether you decide to blog again or not, please don't live the rest of your life in fear.
For everyone out there who may be reading this, please, do your part to stem the violence that exists in our virtual world. Report posts to site admins. Ban users on your sites who post horrendous things. Report users to the authorities when threats are made. Make your site a Safe Zone, whether or not you use something like a chicklet to announce it. Our world is violent enough as it is. We don't need more.
Kathy, I am truly sorry this happened to you.
4 thoughts on “The Internet is not an excuse”
Right on, Donna. I think everyone who has influence over any website that can disseminate information has a moral responsibility to ensure that no malicious acts result. This is horrendous and I hope Kathy will pick up some power from all the thousands of people who care for her and what she does.
Sorry to hear about that woman’s experiences, as well as yours, DD.
I make it clear in my forum TOS that if you engage in behaviors we define as unwanted, all bets are off regarding your privacy. We’ll call the police (and have), publish your IP, and publish your name and address if we can track them down, if we feel your transgression was serious enough.
When there have been actual events like the woman who met another in a dog breeding forum, then visited her, killed her and removed her 8 month old fetus to keep as her own, it’s clear that these threats can’t just be ignored. I also think it’s incumbent on owners of social sites (MySpace, you listening?) to watch over their flock to take all reasonable efforts to red flag and act on those members who appear they may have the potential for causing harm to others.
Robert, I’ll be sure to add those same warnings to my forum. Hadn’t really thought of including all of that in the forum rules before. Thanks.
I must be missing something because I wasn’t able to figure out why it all started.
Regardless, it’s definitely something that should not be done.
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