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Crap Girl

So you think linking to Lehtovaara is a mob in action?

No. This is a mob in action. (Read the comments as well.)

It began in a subway train with a girl whose dog made a mess on the train floor. When nearby elders told her to clean up the mess, she basically told them to fuck off. A nearby enraged netizen then took pictures of her and posted it, without any masking, on a popular website which started a nationwide witchhunt.

Within hours, she was labeled gae-ttong-nyue (dog-shit-girl) and her pictures and parodies were everywhere. Within days, her identity and her past were revealed. Request for information about her parents and relatives started popping up and people started to recognize her by the dog and the bag she was carrying as well as her watch, clearly visible in the original picture. All mentions of privacy invasion were shouted down with accusations of being related to the girl. The common excuse for their behavior was that the girl doesn't deserve privacy.

Scary shit. It's a different thing to attack a public establishment (who did a really stupid thing), which is supposed to be able to handle public critique, than it is to attack a single person that happens to have a bad day (and bad manners). She'll be scarred for life.

And the law does not help here - once the story is out, what can you do? Sue the people who posted the story? Well, assuming that you can figure out who they were, that might get you some money (or not - I mean, if the report is factually accurate, it's not even technically slander, though it might be constituted as an invasion of privacy), but you will still be laughed at years from now. The average person is unlikely to do anything so drastically good that it would offset the googlebalance to his favour, but a company can gain enough good reviews to offset even a nasty googlebombing. So she will be known as "dog shit girl" for the rest of his life.

Think about it: maybe the next time you do something very stupid, and there happens to be a budding net journalist wannabe around with a cell phone camera, you might become the Most Hated Person in the entire country within a week. People will stop you on the street and tell you how stupid you are, send you hate mail, and deface your house. Herkko has received some pretty abusive comments on his blog (and other fora) already how he is such a snotty asscracker who should stay in his home and that the bad treatment at the restaurant was their fault! He is getting the spillovers of hate that come from this internet phenomenon - I'm sure the original posters of the girl's image have received plenty of shit over doing it (deservedly so).

The internet is uncontrollable. This is something that many activists say when they talk about the freedom of speech to old media companies, but they don't really get it. It will eventually hit them back in the face.

From Don's comments: "Thanks to technology, we are able to build a better society in which citizens are the police, prosecutors, and judges."

(Via Boing Boing.)

Oh yeah, I did actually think whether I should post about this and add to the mass hysteria or not, but I figured that this is certainly relevant news due to the Lehtovaara case currently in orbit around the Finnish blogosphere. I think it is important to understand events like these, and be aware that in the near future such things might well be more common - also in Finland. And perhaps it will make someone think about his responsibility as a publisher.




Comments

The comments on Park's blog make me fondly remember all the good sides of our established media system. "Because she did it in public, I'll publish it" is a pretty horrible ethical guideline for would-be journalists.

--Hakkis, 30-Jun-2005


I actually think the comments in there were almost as scary as the story itself. It seems almost every day I learn a new lesson about how cruel and thoughtless people are. Scary shit.

--Outi, 30-Jun-2005


Well what can (and should) be done about this behavior? There's not much one can do. You should have the right to take a picture and post it, along with comments, on your own blog. If others catch wind of it and post it on their blogs, they should have every right to do that.

If you want to post stupid shit on your blog to try and instigate a mob, beware of the consequences. I'd like to see someone take an embarassing picture of me and post it on their blog. They'll soon see me paying them a visit...

--Phil, 01-Jul-2005


...and then you would not only be publically ridiculed, but also jailed for assault? Or perhaps you were going to demand that they allow you to serve them a cup of tea?

I think your strategy would probably end up with you being even more rooted in the headlines, and people would go "aww, what a dick - can't even take a bit of humour". And you would lose whatever public compassion you had before this.

You are talking about punishment with your last sentence. Punishment is given for things done *wrong*. However, in the first paragraph you say that people have a *right* to do this. Therefore, the only conclusion I can draw is that you are saying that "it's all right to do whatever you want with everyone else, but not with me."

And that way of thinking doesn't in general go down too well on people, I'm afraid...

--JanneJalkanen, 01-Jul-2005


Just to be exact: Finnish Criminal Law, 24th section, 8ยง says quite explicitly that you are not allowed to publish shit about other people, no matter if it is true or false. Maximum penalty is two years imprisonment.

However, if the matter is relevant to a person's status, then it's okay. E.g. it's okay to say in public that my blog writings suck ass, but it would not be okay to talk about the personal stuff that I don't publish.

Just in case any of my readers didn't know this...

--JanneJalkanen, 01-Jul-2005


"but also jailed for assault?"

Who said anything about assault?

"aww, what a dick - can't even take a bit of humour"

First you're talking about public mob action, and how a woman can't leave her house without the fear of being attacked....then you call it "a bit of humor" ??

"it's all right to do whatever you want with everyone else, but not with me."

Not at all. You have every right to call me an asshole, and I have every right to get pissed off.

"And that way of thinking doesn't in general go down too well on people, I'm afraid..."

Probably not. But if I was in some situation where I feared a "mob mentality" like you described, what am I supposed to do? You know the police will do nothing. "Mr. Officer, some guy took a picture of me and posted it on his blog, go stop him!!" ...they'll laugh at you. So it situations like that, you might have to take care of things yourself.

The whole point is to PREVENT situations like these. When people sheepishly hide themselves behind their keyboards, people tend to write things they normally wouldn't say to someone's face. If there's a chance that the person you victimized on your blog might come knock at your door...maybe you'll be polite and not write those things? (and no, I'm not talking about assault)

--Phil, 02-Jul-2005


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This particular version of "Main_blogentry_300605_1" was published on 30-Jun-2005 15:44:34 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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