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Teen Suicide Tormentor Outed By Anonymous 550

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-if-you're-wrong dept.
MightyMartian writes "From the CBC: 'The tragic story of B.C. teen suicide victim Amanda Todd has taken another bizarre twist as the internet hacking and activist group Anonymous has named a man the group says was the girl's primary tormentor. Todd, 15, of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, died last Wednesday, a month after posting a haunting video on YouTube that cited the sexualized attack that set her down a path of anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol abuse.' This raises a whole nest of issues surrounding the presumption of innocence and vigilantism. Should the police and the courts be given the appropriate amount of time to determine if there is sufficient evidence, or if a crime has in fact been committed, or is Anonymous right in short-circuiting what might in fact be a lengthy process with no guarantee that anyone will face charges?"
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Teen Suicide Tormentor Outed By Anonymous

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:03PM (#41674739)

    If you're going to try to punish someone for a crime (and make no mistake, naming the man is meant to be a punishment), you'd better make damn sure you get the right person.

    For all the problems of the legal system, it is decent at that -- far from perfect, but probably better than some random anonymice.

    • by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:12PM (#41675583)

      What Anonymous did is no different than -- and just as wrong as -- police parading accused (often not even arraigned) criminals on "perp walks" for the television cameras, and splashing the names and faces of accused rapists across TV, print and radio.

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        "Perp walks" are a classic example of why absolute freedom of speech is a bad idea, despite the howls of outrage this will provoke amongst the libertarians, right wing extremists and absolutists around here.

        You try saying "sticks and stones" to someone who's been paraded in public as a rapist or paedophile, then released without charges.
    • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@NOSPAM.earthlink.net> on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @10:43PM (#41677475)

      Given that this is being done by Anonymous, I think it's fairly clear that they don't trust the government. Asking people who don't trust the government to depend on it to provide justice is, well, a bit unreasonable.

      This doesn't mean I think they were right to do what they did. I'm not well enough informed to have an opinion. I *suspect* that they rushed to judgement, without sufficient evidence. OTOH, I've seen little that persuades me that the government is even interested in justice, though they *do* generally prefer that you follow their rules. (Unless it's to their advantage to have something to hang over your head.)

      • by elucido (870205)

        Given that this is being done by Anonymous, I think it's fairly clear that they don't trust the government. Asking people who don't trust the government to depend on it to provide justice is, well, a bit unreasonable.

        This doesn't mean I think they were right to do what they did. I'm not well enough informed to have an opinion. I *suspect* that they rushed to judgement, without sufficient evidence. OTOH, I've seen little that persuades me that the government is even interested in justice, though they *do* generally prefer that you follow their rules. (Unless it's to their advantage to have something to hang over your head.)

        Then they should give people in the private sector and outside the government a way to verify the quality of information, the facts, to rate the source, etc. When you make a purchase on ebay or amazon you see ratings. Reputation even exists on Slashdot but it doesn't exist within Anonymous.

        The only way to make it exist is through digital signatures. Even then we still need professions analyzing the information and doing forensics and we don't know the qualifications of the people in Anonymous.

        • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:26AM (#41678973) Journal

          You do understand that the whole concept of anonymity is to have no identity? Anonymous isn't a group of individuals because you can't be certain who is or isn't a member because they are all anonymous. The moment they get an individual identity, they are no longer anonymous.

          Last weekend, a video was posted threathening dutch ISP and the dutch content mafia with a cyber attack by Anonymous, it turned out to be a kid who had no relation with them but there was no way to know this because you can't call up anon and ask them if anon, no the other anon, not that anon, you know the anon who knowns anon is really an anon. Well you could but the poor sap you end up calling randomly probably will hang up on you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MacGyver2210 (1053110)

      You'd also better make sure you're trying to punish them for a real crime, and the right crime. What this guy did was sleazy, and to an extent illegal, but it was not rape, it was not murder, it was not assisted suicide, it was just plain pedo-bear skeezyness.

      Try the dude for possession of child pornography, try the dude for coercing a minor, do what you have to do. Do NOT try to make this a whole schpiel about "Oh no, cyber bullies!" or try to charge this guy for her death in any way. Even if he is entirel

      • Perhaps my feeling of revulsion is best summarized by Adam Smith:
                  We blush for the impudence and rudeness of another, though he himself appears to have no sense of the impropriety of his own behaviour; because we cannot help feeling with what confusion we ourselves should be covered, had we behaved in so absurd a manner.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nitio (825314)

        Try the dude for possession of child pornography, try the dude for coercing a minor, do what you have to do. Do NOT try to make this a whole schpiel about "Oh no, cyber bullies!" or try to charge this guy for her death in any way. Even if he is entirely responsible for the picture and its distribution, he did not kill this girl, she chose to take the easy way out and just say "I give up". That's not his fault. Showing her tatas online was nobody's choice but her own, and she certainly wasn't 'forced' to d

      • Unfortunately it looks like she couldn't live with the results of her bad decision. I feel zero sympathy for this girl.

        For someone who was tricked into exposing herself when she was 12??!?!

        What a sad, sad person you are.

  • Hope he's the right guy. If not, even if he is a piece of shit otherwise (and all signs point to "Yes!"), he's about to have to endure a shit storm of epic proportion fall upon him. And that would not be fair...

    If he is the right guy...I will enjoy watching him self-destruct.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:06PM (#41674775)

    Anonymous could have blood on their hands if the outrage becomes a lynch mob. I have no sympathy for the man, but the internet is a kangaroo court.

  • by rritterson (588983) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:07PM (#41674793)

    If Anonymous has material evidence that points to the guilt of a particular individual, they should turn that evidence over to the responsible law enforcement agency, not go public and taint both the investigation and public opinion. The detectives may have had the opportunity to seize evidence before the person knew he was under suspicion, or set up a sting operation. They'd also have the chance to clear the individual if he's innocent without the mess of threats of violence I presume this guy is now going to get.

    Presuming this person is eventually charged and tried, Anonymous releasing this information can complicate the job of the prosecutor, having the opposite effect intended.

    On the other hand, if this person is innocent, Anonymous just released a shitstorm on this poor guy that's going to be nearly impossible to get rid of until the police charge someone else.

    I don't see any situations where Anonymous' action result in a more positive outcome than would have come about through other choices.

    • by gnoshi (314933)

      If Anonymous has material evidence that points to the guilt of a particular individual, they should turn that evidence over to the responsible law enforcement agency, not go public and taint both the investigation and public opinion. The detectives may have had the opportunity to seize evidence before the person knew he was under suspicion, or set up a sting operation.

      I absolutely agree with this, particularly since I don't imagine the 'evidence' gathered by Anonymous would be admissible in court. If this is the case, then police would need to be able to gather their own evidence in order to prosecute.
      In addition, if the actions of Anonymous make it possible for the man to claim he is unable to receive a fair trial due to jury prejudice (if indeed he is charged) then they will have just ruined an opportunity to see if the legal system can deal with cases like this approp

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:24PM (#41675035) Homepage

      I don't see any situations where Anonymous' action result in a more positive outcome than would have come about through other choices.

      The folks who identify themselves as Anonymous don't care. If they cut off income for thousands of merchants just to send a message to MasterCard, they call it a victory.

      The actions of Anonymous aren't based in righteous concern for society. Rather, they're displays of overwhelming power trumping society's established systems, with a thin veneer of altruism to stave off any guilt.

      Anonymous members aren't educated in ethics. They don't have any consequences for destroying someone's life. Anonymous enjoys the power of crowdsourced intelligence and abilities, without the responsibility that comes from actually caring for everyone fairly. An appropriate analogy is a newly-empowered dictator. He enjoys the support of the people because he's popular, and now he can kill anyone he wants for the good of the country.

      • Anonymous members aren't educated in ethics.

        I agree with your sentiment, but this here ^ - yeah, bank CEOs and politicians ARE educated in ethics, kind of a requirement for all of the education that they need. Has that made their respective industries more ethical, do you think?

      • by Spaseboy (185521) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:47PM (#41675287)

        From Wikipedia:
        "The French Revolution (French: Révolution française; 1789–1799), was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France that had a major impact on France and throughout the rest of Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years. French society underwent an epic transformation, as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from radical left-wing political groups, masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside. Old ideas about tradition and hierarchy – of monarchy, aristocracy, and religious authority – were abruptly overthrown by new Enlightenment principles of equality, citizenship and inalienable rights."

        Now, do you think that the upheaval of the aristocracy was sugar cookies and lemonade for the economy of France? What about all the merchants employed by the Aristocracy? How evil of those revolutionaries to do such a thing to the Aristocracy because it affected merchants!

        • Now, do you think that the upheaval of the aristocracy was sugar cookies and lemonade for the economy of France? What about all the merchants employed by the Aristocracy? How evil of those revolutionaries to do such a thing to the Aristocracy because it affected merchants!

          And yet you leave out the mass killings that presaged the democides of the 20th century that came from these proto-leftists. Can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, amiright? (And ironically, the man who coined that phrase was

      • by Kaenneth (82978)

        A better comparison for Anonymous is a large Corporation.

        Large group of individuals acting for common interests with a lack of personal accountability and moral restraint.

    • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:00PM (#41675445) Homepage Journal

      If Anonymous has material evidence that points to the guilt of a particular individual, they should turn that evidence over to the responsible law enforcement agency

      Problem there is that evidence was (considering the source) almost certainly obtained through illegal action. (hacking) This cause three immediate problems. 1. most legal systems spoil evidence that has been obtained through illegal actions, 2. it may make assembling an unspoiled jury (that has not been exposed to the tainted evidence) difficult, and 3. it may make the same evidence, obtained through legal means, more difficult or impossible to bring to court.

      The laws concerning spoilage of evidence are made to protect the innocent, but are most frequently called upon to protect the guilty. That's the unfortunate part of it. To protect the 1% of the innocent, the 99% of the guilty must go free. Love it or hate it? You'll probably hate it, until you're the 1%.

  • Yes and no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:08PM (#41674795)

    Should the police and the courts be given the appropriate amount of time to determine if there is sufficient evidence, or if a crime has in fact been committed

    In theory yes, but the problem with bullying is that the legal system doesn't protect it sufficiently .. there is this double standard. The exact same behaviors that would be considered criminal just a few years later is dismissed as 'normal' (and you're told to 'ignore it') at school level. This is primarily when vigilantism becomes attractive - when the formal justice system fails to protect victims.

    What should happen is that more forms of bullying should be criminalized, and the penalties should be harsher - e.g. physical assault should be treated more often as an adult crime and teens should be tried as adults for committing physical assault. And as with committing crime as an adult, there should be harsher consequences that follow you through life. Currently when leaving school, there are no negative consequences for bullies at all - not even a modicum of shame in the workplace (this is why I support more 'name and shame' efforts for even past bullies).

    Unfortunately, much like battered wife syndrome, without formal recourse, desperate victims are sometimes forced and driven to either tragically commit suicide, or occasionally, take out their own tormentors in the worst cases (e.g. some school shootings). At least in the latter, if there is a silver lining, it's that there is some manner of repercussion for the perpetrators - that is what is sorely needed.

    • Re:Yes and no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spaseboy (185521) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:52PM (#41675343)

      And all adulteresses should be forced to wear a scarlet "A"!

      Children are not fully-formed adults, we can't treat them as such. They do not have full control over their lives as adults do. If you believe that children should be treated as adults than whatever age you believe that begins they should be allowed to drink, smoke, gamble and vote.

      You can't have it both ways.

      • Re:Yes and no (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:15PM (#41675621)

        Hint: The reason children bully isn't because they simply don't and 'can't' understand they're doing something wrong. We also already expect children to understand it's wrong to murder, rape, stab, steal and more. It's hardly a stretch to say, OK, physically punching someone is wrong. We also teach them that various wrong things are wrong, whereas bullying we do not - we simply shrug and say 'kids will be kids' - you seem to honestly bizarrely and absurdly think that the only available options are 'scarlet As', and doing absolutely nothing like we do now. (If I were to venture a guess, I'd guess you bullied someone at school ... in which case of course you'd feel that way.) I won't even being to address the idiocy of your 'scarlet A' comment .. don't waste our time with straw men, thanks.

    • by Chirs (87576) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:24PM (#41675735)

      My 2yo and 3yo sons regularly bite/scratch/beat on each other. In adults this would be assault and battery (possibly even aggravated assault). Are you proposing that they should go to jail?

  • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:08PM (#41674803)

    Is this serious? Is someone on /. really wondering if it is better to let the police and the judiciary sytem decide if someone committed a crime and who it was, or just let anonymous (!) people do justice on their own?

    Are people really nostalgic of the good old days of lynching etc.?

  • Revenge? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dimeglio (456244) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:08PM (#41674809)

    What Anonymous is doing is called revenge. Revenge is not justice.

    • Re:Revenge? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:14PM (#41674909)

      It's more of a tragedy, that despite this great connected world, the girl was not able to find help, or help was not able to find her, before things went that far.

      Revenge won't help her now.

      • by Xest (935314)

        I think that's what struck me most about this story, that the poor girl found no one to talk to who would listen. It's scary to think how many other kids might be in that situation. It's scary because I suspect all it would take is for her to find even one person like possibly even you or I who she could talk to.

        "Revenge won't help her now."

        This is true, but to be fair, it may help others. If even one other jackass doing this sort of bullying is given pause for thought and made to think twice and lay off so

  • A parallel story, not related to the case in question, but another instance of somebody being outed for their (in)actions:
    http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web [gawker.com]

    The person in that story might be a bit more on the verge of the defensible than those who would directly target a specific person - minor or otherwise - such as the one covered here.

    • Another related story about people being exposed appeared on Slashdot [slashdot.org] a few days ago. Fortunately that one had a happy ending (no pun intended): the names were published [dailymail.co.uk]. The First Amendment survives another brush with the false dignity of the powerful.

  • Even if this is the right guy and the accuser was of sound mind, I'd prefer the law would handle this rather than Anonymous. Vigilante justice is fun and all, but how far from throwing acid on people or stonings is this?
  • by Hentes (2461350)

    And should we trust Anonymous on this one? What if they are just covering for one of their own?

  • ... everyone has one, and Anonymous is no exception. Absent a gag order, due process has historically done little to thwart the expression of opinions or free speech, regardless of basis in fact/truth (or lack thereof). AFAIC, provided that they don't pose an obstruction of justice or investigation, Anonymous can discuss whoever they want whenever they want regarding public concerns - that alone does not make them vigilantes. Vigilantes are the ones who haphazardly take action. Speech is not action... hence
  • Due Process (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The primary issue with due process is that it is set up in order to preserve the life of an innocent person, at the cost of letting 9 guilty people go free. When you find yourself at the end of a legal cannon, you will be very happy for every line written that the system must jump through in order to prosecute you, legally.

    Unfortunately, the worst of us know how to use this system to benefit themselves, and so as the web is drawn tighter, they simply make themselves more slippery until eventually the spide

  • by xeno (2667) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:14PM (#41674905)

    I caught a few of the threads where the apparent perp was outed, and I was very encouraged at the volume of comments that basically said 'that's enough data, now let's turn it over to the authorities.' Crowdsourcing of evidence-gathering is terribly powerful, and it's nice to see that even in a large pool of people (in a vigilante mood) the majority still have a sense that there's a line between prosecutor and jury. Sure, there are issues with naming potentially innocent people, but when the crowd refrains from attack and turns to a judicial system, it's the best we can do.

  • by thomasdz (178114) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:15PM (#41674917)

    The anonymous dox might have the WRONG address

    http://www.cknw.com/news/vancouver/story.aspx?ID=1791555 [cknw.com]

    there's the danger

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:23PM (#41675017) Homepage

    They simply provided information.

    "Anonymous right in short-circuiting what might in fact be a lengthy process with no guarantee that anyone will face charges?"

    You would only be right to even ask that question if they set out to punished this person, they have simply acted as a journalist type group and released information about the case.

  • by AlienSexist (686923) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:24PM (#41675037)
    So if Anonymous makes a mistake and outs the wrong person and that person becomes harassed by the public backlash to the point of committing suicide... Will Anonymous out their outer?
    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:04PM (#41675501) Homepage

      This "Anonymous" is 4Chan and the crowd. They helped to participate in Todd's suffering. Next, they had a new target and went on to make him suffer. A new jackass pops up to participate in the event by placing a dead-girl picture next to a picture of Todd and he made himself yet another target.

      Anonymous is not a bunch of do-gooders. They simply select "worthy targets" and try to make their lives hell. It's never about justice. But what's a worthy target? Anyone they feel is stupid. Todd was stupid for appearing nude on the internet and more stupid for getting angry about it and not learning about the Streissand effect. It goes on and on like that. And this target #2? He's just another of those 4Chanimals. They will turn on each other because they are not really a group or a collective. They don't travel in packs... they just go to the same web site(s) and screw around with each other for fun. And a few of them don't have a reasonable notion of what "too much" or "too far" is.

      Of course, people will misunderstand the nature of these Anonymous people and somehow think they are of like mind and in some way organized. That's just not the case.

      • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @08:50PM (#41676513)

        Todd was stupid for appearing nude on the internet and more stupid for getting angry about it and not learning about the Streissand effect.

        No, she wasn't stupid. She was a child. There's a term for acting stupidly due to youth. Innocence.

        • by rohan972 (880586) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @03:35AM (#41678811)
          I think you have misinterpreted what was said.

          But what's a worthy target? Anyone they feel is stupid. Todd was stupid for appearing nude on the internet and more stupid for getting angry about it and not learning about the Streissand effect. It goes on and on like that.

          It seems to me that the sentence you quoted is paraphrasing the attitude of the anonymous attackers, not the posters own opinion.

  • by idealego (32141) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:26PM (#41675071)

    According to the following website, the suspected person appeared in court yesterday:
    http://www.dailydot.com/news/amanda-todd-kody-maxson/ [dailydot.com]

  • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @05:07AM (#41679143)
    This is not new [wikipedia.org]. The first incident like this (that I know of) was in South Korea in 2005 [famouspictures.org]. It (and similar events) culminated in a law [wikipedia.org] essentially stripping out anonymity online. It hasn't worked that well as most anonymous forums have simply moved overseas.

    This is one of the truly new problems created by the Internet, and I look forward to watching how society struggles with coming up with a solution for it. The "lynch mob" analogy doesn't really work since members of mob aren't truly anonymous (though the KKK tried to achieve that), and the potential geographic separation between tormentor and victim is literally worldwide. So while there have been similar problems in the past, none are quite like this one.
  • Let me be blunt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aepervius (535155) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @05:08AM (#41679147)
    I have karma to burn.

    If the muslim may not need to feel attacked with all the anti muslim propaganda and advertising, and they should bravely ignore all insult, THEN that teen dying is her own damn fault and the troll asshole which pushed her to do it left alone.

    You can't have it any other way, or you have to admit the muslim have a point.

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