This isn’t exactly Pony-related, but I believe that it’s extremely important for those who believe that being online makes you above common sense and the law.
For those who don’t know, a young 15-year-old lady from Port Coquitlam, B.C. (down the road from where I live) took her own life less than two years ago as a result of cyberbullying. Her case made international headlines because of a video she posted shortly before hanging herself on October 10th, 2012. It showed the amount of torture she went through through the past several years. All because of a nude photo she took for someone she thought she could trust. The same someone who used that photo to blackmail her on Facebook, effectively destroying her social life online and in school.
Just recently, it was announced by Coquitlam RCMP that authorities in the Netherlands had arrested a 35-year-old Dutch/Turkish Citizen back in January on charged of indecent assault and child pornography. It is believed that he is responsible for blackmailing Amanda with the nude photo for over a year, and there may be more victims of his disturbing actions. It is not yet known if he acted alone or with others, or if a different individual or group used his system to do it.
This case hits so close to home both figuratively and literally, as I’ve received unwarranted bullying very recently, simply having the word “Brony” in my Steam tag. While I’ve shaken it off, others aren’t so fortunate in their cases. Bullying is a problem that cannot be left unchecked, as more and more teens—even an 11 year-old for Christ’s sake—are trying to or have taken their own lives for being who they are and suffering because of people who simply refuse to see that or take advantage of them. Cowardice at its worst.
Regardless of whether or not this man is convicted, this case makes a statement that everyone—and I mean EVERYONE—on the internet should remember:
YOU CAN’T HIDE BEHIND THAT SCREEN FOREVER.
If you use that screen name or anon ability to abuse and harm other people for your own “amusement,” it only shows how much of a monster you’re portraying yourself as. Every person you speak to online is a fellow human being. You’re expected to treat them as such. You may have the right to “free speech,” but even freedom comes with strings attached. And that includes making threats of murder, blackmail, humiliation, or any form of torture. In most countries, this can get you arrested and possibly extradited to face justice.
And don’t think you can keep the authorities off your back by going anon or fooling enforcement forensics with all those fancy re-routing software or whatever; they can and will find you eventually. As this recent arrest demonstrates, you can’t exactly hide from the long arm of the law. Or your close friends and family, for that matter.
You need to remember one rule of the internet that isn’t mentioned very often, but it very important: whatever you say on the internet STAYS on the internet. Whatever you say can and will be used against you, whether it’s looking for a job, making new friends, or even in a court of law. How do people expect to take you seriously if they find you causing pain to others? Most likely, they won’t. The internet is a place for people communicate and share their lives, not to make the suffer for what wonderful human beings they are and what they like to do.
If you believe in having fun with other people don’t you ever treat them like garbage. Try to treat them as if they were you own family. Poke fun at their flaws, but do it in a way where they don’t feel so bad for having them. Simply tell them how they can overcome them and make both your lives comfortable. Unless it’s something that’s against the law or causes actual harm to their peers, don’t ever tell them they should stop doing what they do.
And above all: Never, NEVER believe that you have better judgement of character than anyone else. Everyone has a right to their opinion, whether they disagree with something or not. They are not solitary fact. They are just your thoughts, and your thoughts only. Forcing them on people makes you look like an idiot. If you can’t say anything nice, you’re better off saying nothing at all.
I would like to play online or state my thoughts on something I believe in WITHOUT some self-centered coward thinking he can just shut me down by spewing trash all over my screen to try and break my spirit. Is that too much to ask, even for at least five minutes?
Tl;dr - If you think you’re safe from punishment being on the net, you’re wrong. By a long shot.