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Online Vigilantes, Or "Crowdsourced Justice" 339

destinyland writes "The Chinese credit the 'human flesh search engine' for successfully locating 'the kitten killer of Hangzhou' from clues in her online video. But in February, the same force identified a teenage cat-abuser in Oklahoma — within 24 hours of his video's appearance on YouTube. 'Netizens are the new Jack Bauer,' argues one science writer, and with three billion potential detectives, 'attempts to hide will only add thrill to the chase.' But China's vigilantes ultimately turned their attention to China's Internet Propaganda Office, bypassing censorship of a director's personal information using social networks, including Twitter. The author suggests there's a new principle emerging in the online world: 'The Internet does not forget, does not forgive and cannot be stopped. Ever.'"
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Online Vigilantes, Or "Crowdsourced Justice"

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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:17PM (#28281903) Homepage

    This is less about the vigilantism of the Crowd, and more about the utter stupidity of [some] criminal/deviants.

    Stupid criminals shoot video of their crimes. Incredibly fucking stupid criminals put the video on youtube.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why can't it be both? The criminals are indeed stupid for shooting a video of their crime, and even more stupid for posting it on the internet for the world to see. But does their stupidity mean that the faceless masses on the internet can harass them until they lose their jobs or scrawl death threats on their doors? Those stories are nothing more than a return to anarchy and lawlessness dressed up as something noble by the article. The only story with redeeming qualities is when they found the name of an o
      • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:13PM (#28282741) Homepage Journal

        Those stories are nothing more than a return to anarchy and lawlessness dressed up as something noble by the article.

        Vigilantism is the backlash against lawlessness; in this case the lack of a justice system capable of convicting and punishing sadistic animal abusers has been corrected by a band of on-line judge/jury/executioners. To say that it's the height of civility is a stretch, but 'lawless' it certainly is not either.

        • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:58PM (#28283315)
          Tell that to the black and Jewish victims of lynching in the south. Yes, in many cases vigilantism can be a form of law enforcement. The problem though is that when a group of citizens answers to no one the potential for abuse and stepping beyond law enforcement is definitely there. And while many of those lynched had committed capital offenses, most hadn't.

          Yes, in the two cases cited it seems to have worked out in the interest of justice, but they could just as easily have found somebody that wasn't guilty.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

            Tell that to the black and Jewish victims of lynching in the south. Yes, in many cases vigilantism can be a form of law enforcement. The problem though is that when a group of citizens answers to no one the potential for abuse and stepping beyond law enforcement is definitely there.

            You set up a beautiful straw man argument and knocked it down...
            But harrassment and social ostracism are in no way equivalent to a lynching.
            Not even death threats and bricks through the window rise to that level.
            You have a point in there, but your hyperbole saps it of any meaning.

            Yes, in the two cases cited it seems to have worked out in the interest of justice, but they could just as easily have found somebody that wasn't guilty.

            So give us an equal number of counter examples. It can't be that hard.
            Or even better, find some non-anecdotal statistics that supports your otherwise overhyped assertion.

            I've only heard of a handful of cases where crowd-sourced jus

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The government isn't going to waste time and money going after these people and thus far it sure seems like these are some fuckers who really deserve whatever the government can do to them. People who participate in hunting these people are just filling a void.
        It sounds like nothing illegal was done by those participating in the hunt, at least nothing obvious. It's not like they are hunting the person down in order to physically assault them, they just all want to express their opinion at the same time to t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DJRumpy ( 1345787 )
        I disagree. This is no different than laws designed to deter individuals from performing unacceptable acts. Peer pressure can be a socially acceptable conditioning tool. The end result is the same. If these online vigilantes help capture said criminals then it harms no one. If the go beyond that and in turn break the laws, then they should be dealt with accordingly. That doesn't mean that all vigilante acts are inherently wrong.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

      by panthroman ( 1415081 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#28282235) Homepage

      The internet-justice connection is also about making information easily accessible to the public. And sometimes the public know what the police don't.

      Ted Kaczynsky was identified by his brother somewhat due to his reversed (though also correct) use of the phrase 'you can't eat your cake and have it too.' [] I imagine many aspects of a crime could be identified through that kind of esoteric data, if only the right people saw it.

  • urm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:17PM (#28281909) Homepage Journal

    'human flesh search engine'

    RedTube? []

  • The Author (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Niris ( 1443675 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:18PM (#28281923)
    "The author suggests there's a new principle emerging in the online world: 'The Internet does not forget, does not forgive and cannot be stopped. Ever.'""

    So the author came up with that? Seriously? Pretty sure that's been a main line (well, at least a version of it) for the groups for a long while.
  • it is not a good thing,
    • by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:29PM (#28282089)
      I also have a very bad feeling about this. If it is ok for kitten killers then it will be ok for whatever topic X society doesn't like as long as there is enough of society to make an impact in their personal lives.
      • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:38PM (#28282215)

        I'd rather not live in a society in which 51% can arbitrarily sentence the other 49% to death.

        • by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:51PM (#28282405)
          The examples in the article didn't even need that much. It could have been as few as a few hundred who tracked these people down and the results were the targets losing their reputations, jobs, etc. It is a scary scary thought indeed. Every reasonable human should always keep in their mind that if they wish to be treated above average as a majority, they must accept being treated equally below average when they are the minority. If you wouldn't want to lose the amount of life/liberty/pursuit of happiness you want to push on someone else, then you shouldn't try.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            This is just an extension of Internet flaming into RL. People who feel passionately about something, and think they have a decent chance of remaining anonymous, have a strong incentive to screw up someone's life.
            Consider a few months back when someone posted the RL address of a spam king and people promptly flooded his house with tons of mail-order catalogs and magazines. (But most slashdotters seemed to approve of that...)

            Justice involves a non-biased judge and written laws. Mobs aren't about justice, e

        • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:29PM (#28282951)

          I'd rather not live in a society that thinks impaling a kitten through the eye socket with high heels until the kitten dies is considered a good thing. Fortunately, I don't and neither do most people.

          • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @03:00PM (#28283373)

            And our goals are not mutually exclusive. It's possible to recognize that killing kittens is wrong, but that that widespread vigilantism greater wrong.

          • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @03:04PM (#28283443) Homepage

            Neither do I. That's why I carefully studied all of the evidence available and have identified "the humeister" as the culprit. No, don't ask to see the evidence I used, it's all secret. But you can trust me, as I am held to the highest standards of professional conduct required for "some anonymous person on the Internet". Look, I have a video camera so you know I'm telling the truth. Be sure to round up all of your friends and storm "the humeister"s home tonight at sunset. Remember to bring plenty of torches and pitchforks.

            Would you really rather live in a world where everybody listens to people like me?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Requiem18th ( 742389 )


              All this crap about phear the mob rule! Tiranity of the majority etc is just rhetoric elitist bullshit!

              You think vigilantes are dangerous because they respond to no one? Bullshit, Vigilantes answer to society, and in the case of very large mobs like the internet, the mob *is* society. What makes you think the police is better? Because they answer to no one?

              How do you call a government that doesn't listen to the "mob"? A dictatorship.

              Besides the "mob" has become much more sophisticated than before,

        • Deep down I've always had a sneaking suspicion that has always been the real goal of political parties.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Locke2005 ( 849178 )
          As long as I'm always in the 51%, I don't see the problem.
      • I don't like it either. Now that they're going after the Chinese internet censor, they're likely to be completely unstoppable after that. Who will be next then? Internet censors in Australia? The history revisionists in Japan? Fox News? It's a slippery slope I tell you. They're going after the easy targets first, and then they're slowly ramping their way up to include everyone. It will be complete anarchy.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Same problem with any Vigilante justice.
        Except Batman.

        Considering how biased large groups of people can be and the fact that their belif becomes so entrenched into who they are and with no checks in place, innocent people will get killed.
        You see then in Homeopathy, Anti-Vaccines, Acupuncture and a mess of other belief systems.

      • It would be easy enough to for the real kitten killer to point the finger at someone else to divert attention. Mob justice is injustice.
        • Maybe, if the sick fuck wasn't so stupid as to RECORD it and put it on fucking YOUTUBE.

          Sick and Stupid. Calls for darwination.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Omestes ( 471991 )

          By forcing an innocent person to kill a kitten?

          Seriously, these morons RECORDED themselves killing kittens. Its not like there is a big mystery over who actually did it.

          I have no problem with this, no one got hurt, and making someone lose their job for doing something disgusting is perfectly fine with me. Its not like they were lynched or anything serious.

          Okay, you go to a fast food restaurant, and you see an employee wander out back and beat up a bum. Would it be wrong for me to go talk to his manager a

    • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:43PM (#28282291)

      The author of the article doesn't get it

      Fortunately, human flesh search engines don't end the lives of their victims, like the witch-hunts or lynching of the past.

      No, they just make it impossible to ever live a normal life ever again. They ruin your career and alienate your friends and family. They force you to live through humiliation and shaming every day, often for weeks or months at a time.

      All based on a single, often easily fabricated, piece of evidence. That isn't justice, it's just a mob being a mob and harrassing other people for the fun of it.

      • by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:27PM (#28282905)
        You obviously haven't been to law school, through a corrections course, or seen what happens to people who have ever been convicted of a crime. There's a reason we have higher recidivism rates than nearly any other country on earth. We destroy the lives of our convicts, often off of shreds of evidence that are flamboyantly paraded by charismatic lawyers while denying evidence that could change the verdict because of legal technicalities. Good luck getting a job if you've been convicted.

        These groups only really pursue people who do one of two things - 1) try to make information that is free unfree (the antithesis of the internet), and 2) do things so abhorrant that they rouse the majority to action against them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sckeener ( 137243 )
          mod parent up.

          Sex offenders have it too rough in my opinion. Take this article about a bridge in FL. All the sex offenders live there because of all the various zoning restrictions forced them to live there. The article even discusses one woman about to move under the bridge:

          and before anyway says we should just kill sex offenders or mutilate their body parts, remember two things

          1) there are plenty of innocent people convicted of

      • Easily fabricated? Surely you jest. They recognized backgrounds and shoe styles, then traced it to online accounts to find the kitten killer woman. How in the hell is that in any way "easily fabricated"? The Internet justice movement may be a bunch of vigilantes, but it's very fucking well-informed vigilantes. If something doesn't smell right, someone will say so and there will be a huge discussion of it. I'm much less afraid of Internet vigilantes fabricating shit than I am of my government fabricating evidence of, say, WMDs.
    • Grace Wang (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xplenumx ( 703804 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:12PM (#28282721)
      it is not a good thing.

      I'm sure Grace Wang [] would agree with you.

      In brief, Grace Wang [] was an international student at Duke and dared to try an initiate a discussion between the pro-Tibet and pro-Chinese sides of a protest. After being attacked on forums such as "Online Vigilantes" decided to bring these attacks to the real world by posting her personal information (her student visa application) and providing maps to her parents' house (which was defaced, causing her parents to go into hiding).

      Defending kittens are one thing, but as with "think of the children", it rarely stops there.

      • Wow, I had not previously heard about this. I really don't know what to do about the digital mob, except keep warning people that it is not a good thing.
      • it is not a good thing.

        I'm sure Grace Wang [] would agree with you.

        Thank you for posting this. This is a perfect example of how Chinese groupthink works.

        I don't have a link, but I remember reading an article where an angry ex-wife put some false allegations about her ex-husband online (this was also in China) and the guy ended up being constantly harassed until the government stepped in and protected him and put the ex-wife in jail for lying. I've heard of similar stories happening with "online justice" in South Korea where people just believe whatever horrible thing someone says online about another person.

        What really bothers me about China is that many young people there seem to have this patriotic fervor that's based in nothing more than believing what the government tells them. I would be shocked if someone asked Chinese students why they are so angry about Taiwanese independence or Tibetan independence (or even autonomy) and that had anything to say beyond "They are now and always have been part of China". I've been to Taiwan and except for a few crazy pro-independence nut jobs, most people there just want to be left alone by China and nothing more than that. They don't wish any ill on China, they just want to be left alone. It seems to me that the Chinese government actually likes to encourage this irrational "Everything we say and do is right" attitude. It makes the population easier to control when they are incapable of independent thought.

        Finally I read the original article and I found some aspects troubling. First of all, some people figured out where the kitten killing in China occurred by recognizing things in the video. No problem them. But then it says that someone recognized the shoes the girl wore and knew they were ordered online. OK, maybe these shoes are only available online and someone knew that. Fine. But then it says that they figured out who ordered them and went after her. Hmm... serious lack of privacy here. So it's not the government asking the business to see who did this but just an angry mob and the company apparently gave them the info. What? Was there only one woman who ordered the shoes? So how on earth from this paltry information did they figure out who did it? I don't know. It sounds kind of fishy to me but if true, I guess it says a lot about China that all you have to do is get an angry mob and businesses will give out all your personal info to them.

  • Ooops. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:20PM (#28281955) Journal

    See, this is why you can't trust free speech and open information. One minute it's saving kittens, and then next minute it's BITING YOU IN THE ASS! I can has truth plz? kthnxbye!

    Always nice to see the Chinese circumventing the Great Firewall. There is no way you'll get good information if all you get is government information.

    • Your first paragraph makes no sense whatsoever.

      This has nothing whatsoever to do with bypassing the gfw, it's entirely domestic. Chinese people actually consider it patriotic to track down miscreants this way. The phenomenon is known as the 'human flesh search engine' and they are scarily good at posting a person's full info. Then, the serious creeps start working on you - calling your boss, your mother, the principal of your old high school. Of course, charlatans can be exposed this way, too. One essa

  • Cats (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:20PM (#28281961) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the internet can catch this guy []. I hope so, and am glad he doesn't live here.

  • by pha7boy ( 1242512 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:21PM (#28281965)
    "The Internet does not forget, does not forgive and cannot be stopped. Ever." that's why I'm adding the internet to my Fav5.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:21PM (#28281981)

    The crowd makes a mistake and some random dude gets beaten down for something his lookalike neighbour did.
    Do a search for: vilgilante mistake

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 )
      • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:33PM (#28283013) Homepage Journal

        Right, rules of evidence, jury trials, right to appeal, right to have legal representation, none of these make any difference.

        The question isn't "which system never screws up". There's no such system. The question is which system screws up the least. I think that a system that relies on some random idiot saying, "Hey, that must be the guy!" isn't even close to the top of that list.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

          It's not even which system screws up the least - it's which system has built in procedures for error correction (which mostly) work, and built in procedures for appeals (which mostly work). The system that relies on some random idiot saying, "Hey, that must be the guy!" lacks both of these key features.

          Nobody with any sense won't admit our current justice problems, but you'd have to be seriously biased or ignorant to fail the realize the vast difference between the two systems or to ask questions l

      • by Rary ( 566291 )

        So what's the difference between the crowd making a mistale and the police making a mistake?

        The police and the rest of the criminal justice system are bound by rules designed to at least attempt to "get it right". The crowd is not. The crowd will make more serious mistakes more frequently than the criminal justice system.

        • The crowd will make more serious mistakes more frequently than the criminal justice system.

          And sometimes it isn't necessarily by mistake. How many times have people been targeted for mob action, not because of wrongdoing, but because of opportunity:

          • Tom owes me money, and doesn't look to be paying me soon.
          • Dick's son banged my daughter, then went and married that trollope down the hall.
          • Harry knows I've been siphoning cash from the coffee fund.

          Of course, whoever starts this won't say the actual reason. They can just say, "Hey, look, there's [fill-in-the-blank]! Get him!"

      • by Ironica ( 124657 )

        So what's the difference between the crowd making a mistale and the police making a mistake?

        Right of appeal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xelios ( 822510 )
      While I'm not too thrilled about people taking the law into their own hands, lets try to keep some perspective. How many innocent people have been jailed or executed by our 'proper' systems of justice? More than a few, I'll bet. Judges and juries are prone to making mistakes just like the rest of us. Most of these internet vigilante cases so far have ended in personal information being made public, threats against the suspects and evidence being sent to local authorities who take it from there (unless the p
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      Actually, the victim here wasn't all that random. He was an Indian immigrant. Funny how racial minorities tend to be victims of "mistaken identity" more than the rest of us. Which leads us to a completely different reason [] to despise vigilante "justice".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by parlancex ( 1322105 )
      Vigilante justice is wrong and it isn't hard to prove that, but the instances cited in TFA aren't really about vigilante justice as the summary would suggest. The crowd didn't find these people and punish them, it just found them. They will be subject to the same due process as anybody else accused of a crime (though I can't speak for in China). The trend worth discussing here is more akin to internet detective-work, not internet justice, and I think we can agree that internet detective-work has a stronger
    • That's one specific problem, but the GLOBAL problem with vigilante justice is it has no defined endpoint.

      If the vigilante response exceeds what is considered "fair", and it usually does, the instinctive reaction by the accused is to retaliate. It's not a criminal mind type thing, it's human nature. If I call you names and you punch me in the balls, I will knock you with a baseball bat, and you will shoot me in the ass, and I will burn down your house with your family trapped inside, etc etc etc... the rag

  • Except online vigilantes go after the softest of soft targets.

    And why cats? Sounds like the Chinese version of btards.

  • by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:30PM (#28282107) Homepage Journal

    I offer this:

    Look at history, and political science and take a hard look at why republics functioned beter then pure democracy. The Internet runs the same risk.

    Take heed and good luck, crowd sourcing has a hidden downside people are forgetting.

  • Which is worse, the internet developing an emergent technology based sentience (e.g. skynet) or the internet developing an emergent crowed based sentience like in these examples?

    Personally I'm not sure which would scare me more.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#28282241)

    More like the new mob. It's fine if you fit in, if you agree with whatever "the internet" agrees on. It's utter hell if you don't.

    "The internet" is not much better than the average religious nutjobs picketing abortion clinics. They just picket different targets. Sure, today it's kitten killers and the Co$. But how long 'til the next groupthink target is a group you belong to? Will it take a lot to jump from hunting down criminals to hunting down people that dare to be different, that refuse to fit in, that did nothing really wrong but made someone feel "uneasy" thinking of what he does?

    And I'm not even talking about sexual fetishes that make me (and probably a few other people) cringe.

    It's a small step from vigilantism to harassment. From fighting a crime that the justice system ignores to beating people you just don't simply like.

    • by mrex ( 25183 )

      "Internet vigilantes", the kinds who do care about issues like cults and animal abuse, seem little more than pawns for the sociopathic trolls who enjoy nothing more than exerting power over their peers, particularly in ways that elevate their in-group status and justify their innate desire to inflict suffering on those peers.

      "Cult like mentality" is an apt description.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:41PM (#28282249)

    Many people will SAY anything. I've seen people on /. advocate the murder of people who hold views of copyright different from their own. Extreme positions get amplified on the internet because extreme people can easily interact with other like-minded extreme people. That's all fine and dandy, so long as it's just idiots saying stupid stuff. Freedom of speech, whatever.

    The problem for me is that there is a very small minority of people who can be triggered to act by the incitement of others. These people will reach out and HURT people with little or no factual support. Unless stopped, people like this exert an evil influence all out of proportion to their otherwise insignificant place in society. Nazis did that kind of stuff in the 1930s and it really chilled the behavior of other law-abiding Germans. A real turd-Kultur was created there. That kind of history ought best not be repeated.

    If people alter their behavior because they are afraid of being tormented by Internet-spawned wrongful "meat world" attacks, then they are not free. Balancing protection from such acts with the right to freely interact on the internet is a serious legal and moral challenge.

    • ...advocate the murder of people who hold views of copyright different from their own

      Hmmm... do you have a link? I've seen all sorts of violence advocated on /. against scumbag organizations trying to destroy people's lives using illegal and unethical tactics in the name of copyright enforcement, but never for just a different view.

      Spammers on the other hand must die horribly.

  • ...welcome our new YouTube watching overlords!
  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:54PM (#28282463)

    Sounds like he just watched The Terminator...

    'The Internet does not forget, does not forgive and cannot be stopped. Ever.'

    From the movie..

    That Terminator is out there.
    It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with.
    It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear
    and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

  • by bzzfzz ( 1542813 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:06PM (#28282625)
    The outcome ultimately is justice through online voting and consensus systems, like the moderation system here, or the various systems of community sanctions over at Wikipedia. The problem is not that these systems are unfair, since they are arguably no worse than traditional legal systems (whose track record is far from perfect). The problem is that they are open to manipulation by people who have the willingness and the knowhow to game the system.
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      So... someday you could be judged by an internet mob from halfway around the world, who have not bothered to even look at the evidence (or RTFA, as we'd say here).

      At that point, justice will truly become like politics.

  • by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:11PM (#28282701) Homepage []

    Anonymous hates people, but loves cats (as evidenced by Caturday and the entire "lolcats" phenomena). Their most recent target is the evil Cheyenne Cherry, who put a kitten in an oven and roasted it alive. Anonymous went through a lot of effort to get as much info as possible, but jumped the gun at first. The NY Daily News reported a 75-yo retiree with a similar name had her phone number posted, and the result? "They're all saying, 'You'll burn in hell,' 'Who the hell do you think you are?'" Bernadette Cherry, 72, said of the 75 calls from cat lovers."

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:12PM (#28282719) Homepage

    My fucking god! Every time I turn around, there comes to my attention yet another sick thing I couldn't possibly have imagined on my own. "Kitten Killing Videos"?? Holy crap!! And no, nobody needs to list "things sicker than kitten killing videos" and definitely do not post links. To this day, I have not watched two girls and a cup. It was the Daniel Pearlman video that convinced me that if I am warned that I shouldn't see a video, I should probably heed the warning. It cured my "morbid sense of curiosity" forever. (Movie violence be damned, but for all my "kill the spammers" rants, I doubt I could actually stomach actually being the executioner... handing down the sentence is one thing, but actually killing another person? Probably more than I can handle.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:13PM (#28282729)

    Someone clever could turn this into a Two Minute Hate, craft videos of crimes not really committed, wars not really fought, and enemies who don't exist. Congratulations, you can now harness the raw power of a hateful, vindictive crowd.

    "The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroyâ" everything. "

  • No surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:13PM (#28282737)

    Wasn't this predicted years ago by Bruce Sterling in Makeki Neko []? Use of the 'net to commit "death by a thousand paper cuts", or harassment by many, many small acts, each of which individually wouldn't be considered unlawful, but in aggregate become overwhelming? I'm not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, but it almost certainly is going to happen.

    • or harassment by many, many small acts, each of which individually wouldn't be considered unlawful, but in aggregate become overwhelming?

      And also become illegal. At least where I live, law recognizes that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.

      A common mistake made by people in cases of copyright and harassment.

      (Standard IANAL disclaimer)

  • 'The Internet does not forget, does not forgive and cannot be stopped. Ever.'

    I call BS. The Internet is a gaping global case of Attention Deficit Disorder. Show it a cute LOLCAT image, or a video of someone getting hit in the balls, and totally forgets about flavor-of-the-month investigation project.


    Richard Kimble: I DIDN'T KILL MY WIFE!! I DON'T CARE!.....Ooo look guys, new cam-whore! lulz, she's ugly.

  • Nonsense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darthwader ( 130012 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @03:12PM (#28283543) Homepage

    The "cannot be stopped" part of the summary is complete nonsense. All you need to do to stop the internet is show it something shiny. Public opinion and passion is notoriously fickle.

    If there are a thousand crimes committed, the police will make a real effort to investigate all of them, allocating their resources reasonably according to the severity of the crime and the likelyhood of a successful investigation. They will work on an investigation for days, weeks, months or years as required.

    The internet "angry mob", on the other hand, will only investigate the single most exciting, dramatic, attention-getting crime. They will devote 100% of their effort to finding a scapegoat for that crime, until they get bored or something more exciting comes along.

    A smart police force can and will use the power of the masses (think "Amber alert"), but it is still in control of the investigation.

  • ...they would do the same to their government, and make it pay, instead of only complaining in blogs. ^^

    I guess it must be the imagination that many millions of people could not fight some thousands of people, because they would be protected by an army of those very same millions of people. ;)

  • No, I will not finish that meme.

    "The Internet does not forget, does not forgive and cannot be stopped. Ever."

    And it's incredibly stupid and totally uninformed, just like every other lynch mob since long before the kristallnacht and the witch-hunt.

    What could possibly go wrong...?

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.