I am picking up on the theme from a day or two ago. My attention was piqued by an article from Canada about a restaurant owner who decided to do some online revenge against a critic of her restaurant. (She was found guilty of criminal libel.)
You know, most people, myself included, carry around the notion that the internet and social media in general is new. But it’s been clear, it should be clear that some of the content and some of the ways that the internet gets used is very old. Particularly, when that handful of people decide that that the internet is going to be used as a tool to do bad things.
In some countries, the law is really on top of the changes that the internet brought to tort and criminal law. But others lag behind. And I’ve pointed out that, in Japan, the law has lagged behind when it comes to foreigners in Japan—who appear to get a “free space” of sorts—where the average Japanese who did the same thing would have hell come down on him or her. (“Oh, yes, we love our adopted country, but, you see, we have this little quirk . . .”)
One category of internet menacing, if a book were ever to be written about it, might go under the title, “Somebody Said!” Now, how old is this in humanity? Two thousand years old? Ten thousand years old? It probably began the day there were more than two Cro-Magnon tribes, so that one of the three could be the effective shadows, or that the one could point at the other as the source.
It probably was looked at as cowardly behavior back then. Nothing has changed.
It has its variants: “somebody said anonymously that some other source said that, etc.” The difference between now and the steppes of Africa is that there is internet technology to carry the behavior all out.
I remember reading how, in the early days of America’s occupation in Afghanistan, the one tribe would go after their enemy tribe by ascribing terrorist associations that their rival. Sure enough, our guys would be calling in the air strike, and moments later, the one tribe has used us as a tool against their rival. (What a way to “nation build” and make friends?) Ten years later, of course, the tables have been turned with the “green-on-blue” murders. The Afghan elements who don’t want us there send imbed assassins in the Afghan military to present a fusillade of firepower to our guys during a Powerpoint meeting.
In the lighting speed environment, you may think there are lightning-fast solutions. No. All you can do is tick-and-file. Inevitably, more comes out and the aggressor is made more clear.
If someone makes up a bad website or a bad post, there is not much you can do in the short term, but tick-and-file. All the battery of instant solutions, (example, Tweeting, “the authorities are on it!”), may give you that short, sugar high. But the perp realizes that, no, the authorities are not on it. I suppose that, in Japan, the fact that you can bring harder evidence to the local police box, might improve the score. But then again, no. It becomes like the high school’s assistant principal office, which nowadays I read serves as a mediation chamber for social media disputes.
Absent these lighting-fast remedies, the only trusted solution you have to age-old cowardly tactics is time. Inevitably, the perp screws up. The connections that weren’t so clear, become so. The one in the shadows doesn’t realize it’s his own shadow that the light behind his back is casting.