Anonymity Online – How much longer will it last?

As of recent times we have seen a significant rise in Online Defamation from people we now refer to as ‘online trolls’. The rise in Online Defamation has been facilitated by Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. These networking sites require no ID authentication, have no written content filters and are often used in nefarious ways to damage the reputation of others. Without the need to validate ones identity when posting on social media, how are we to see through this masquerade to identify the culprit behind these offensive posts?

 

Charlotte Dawson has been the target of one of the most offensive occurrences of social media abuse to date. Recently, a Twitter user urged Charlotte to “please go hang yourself” and “If I was your fiancé, I’d hang myself too”. Other Twitter posts include “Go kill yourself you f*cking whore” and “On behalf of the world would you please go and hang yourself.” Charlotte replied with “Hope this ends the mystery…” and “You win” before attempting to commit suicide. Charlotte Dawson is okay, but there are many unknown stories of people being harmed by online trolls.

 

Thankfully, representatives of the ITU (Internet Telecommunications Union) from 193 countries are attending Dubai to discuss the future of how we use the internet. One of the major topics up for discussion is how our governments manage internet usage, as it is becoming one of the fastest growing forms of communication and information sharing. While the United Arab Emirates may have gone too far in making it a criminal offense to speak badly of the UAE leaders, it certainly is a step in the right direction of managing internet usage.

 

Unfortunately in Australia there are still many more obstacles to overcome before we are free of online defamation, slander and libel. The ITU representatives from the United States will, without a doubt, move to block any motion to implement laws that prevent unrestrained freedom of speech. An ill-fated situation, however we can only hope for a united front on internet related crimes.

 

For more information of the ITU meeting: http://www.project-syndicate.org/blog/online-freedom-of-speech–still-safe–but-for-how-much-longer

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