Death Threats And Scum Are Not New To Social Media

With recent death-threat attacks against high-profile bloggers (i.e., Kathy Sierra and Robert Scoble), there’s a been an expected surge in blog discussion — including naive surprise — about how such hatred could take place (see BlogPulse graph below). Let’s get one thing straight: These recent events are unfortunate, but scum have always existed everywhere, including the non-A-list blogosphere, the vast majority of the blogosphere without continuous public scrutiny. I’m at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, where this issue has come up numerous times not on the technical research agenda, but in side conversations. One researcher, from a top-three Internet portal, underscored how death threats and other unacceptable behaviors have gone on from the beginning in the trenches in online communities — yes, even back in the 1980s. Another researcher underscored how his text-mining algorithms had one unexpected consequence: the ability to discover looming attacks, physical or verbal, by individuals, and even gangs, on MySpace. There were other examples cited. The point is that online communities represent life, the full spectrum of good and bad — always have, always will.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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