Fighting Back on the Mean Streets of the Internet and (someday) Second Life

‘t Filmhuis (adult)

The backdrop for today’s musings is the ‘t Filmhuis set↑, built on LEA18↑ by Rachelle Raviprakash↑ for machinimatographer Marx Catteneo↑.

The internet makes it easy to feel empowered by a sense of anonymity. After all, if you can broadcast your thoughts (as hateful and/or defamatory and/or malicious as they might be) under the personna of OMGYouDon’tKnowWhoIaminRealLife, then becoming the strutting cock-of-the-walk is tempting to some. The damage they can inflict is not, however, virtual.

‘t Filmhuis (adult)

I’ve watched as friends were targetted both inworld and on forums, blogs, various social media outlets. It’s hurtful and infuriating. It is also almost impossible to stop or to punish those who consider the rest of the population in the metaverse as “fair game”.

You could, if you have the resources, go after them through the legal system in Real Life. Of course, first you have to find them. If you can get their IP address, then you have to deal with the possibility that they’re using an internet cafe – or share their computer with others. You might have to navigate another country’s court system to help track down the pimply-faced rat bastard cowards and serve them with legal papers. Or at least you did up until this week.

‘t Filmhuis (adult)

If you’re at all familiar with the NHL then you’ve heard of Brian Burke↑. He’s not only been the General Manager of a variety of professional hockey teams, he’s also a Harvard trained lawyer with a big ego and a very deep bank account. A while back a number of anonymous online predators decided to spread the rumour that he’d had an affair with a sportscaster and fathered her baby. It wasn’t true, but even respected journalists bought into it.

Most people in the public limelight try and ignore this type of bullshit – Brian Burke decided to fight back.  A number of the message boards refused to give up the real life identities of those posting the comments about him. So, he took a different approach. He did so in a manner which could eventually have wide-ranging implications for anybody on the receiving end of troll behaviour – and for the trolls themselves.

‘t Filmhuis (adult)

Burke got the go-ahead↑ this week to serve legal notice to the individuals he’s named through the same message boards and the same online identities they used to spread their defamatory statements. Facebook and Twitter have both been used before to serve legal notice – this is the first time that the approach has been approved for small sites and different formats (and when the individual could only be identified as Slobberface↑).

The practicalities involved in enforcing default judgments, or even tracking down the miscreants, are still enormously complex. This might simply be a symbolic step towards arming innocent pedestrians on the pixel mean streets. I like it though – it gives me hope. The idea that, at some point, a victim of slander/libel/persecution inworld could use the same tools as their tormentor to seek redress put a smile on my face. :)

‘t Filmhuis (adult)
Leave a comment


  1. This is good. Still it gave me far greater pleasure to discover the identity of one miscreant through his own brash stupidity, on LinkedIn.

  2. Honour, let’s face it: what enables the trolls to do what they do is their audience. Yes, those people who not only befriend the trolls, not only cheer them on their campaigns against whomever they decide to pick on, but also egg them on. Oh, and it’s finally time for various expo’s and events to adopt one more criterion for choosing whether they’ll allow some exhibitor in: if that exhibitor is a troll or a member of a troll gang, they should be denied.

  3. I know that the Internet has a lot of mean streets, but I prefer to stay off them. Life is more peaceful and less stressful that way.

    • Oh me too – but sometimes, when you least expect it, an asshole could decide to target you anyway.

      • True. And you’ll also see assholes like that decide to dedicate their entire internet existence to fighting you. Well, I guess that could be a sort of recognition: for an grade-A asshole to going to such great lengths to fight you, you must be doing something right.

  4. there is a solution, and it would help in many areas and bring the web closer to RL – no anonymity at all. every time you log on you can only log on as yourself. why do we need anonymity?

    • Well I’m of a generation that considers privacy important :) It’s just important not to be allowed to use anonymity as a tool for inflicting pain and damage. Achieving both is something I’d like us to achieve.


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