Reddit, Trolling, Doxxing, Free Speech & Anonymity: Whoo Boy, Is This Stuff Complicated

from the keeping-up dept

In case you haven't been following last week's big controversy on Reddit, there are a number of debates going on about a variety of topics, concerning free speech, trolling, anonymity and more. The very short version is as follows: there had been some (quite reasonable and understandable) concern about the subreddit /r/CreepShots in which people (almost all of whom are likely to be guys) were posting surreptitiously shot photos of others, usually women, usually focused on sexually objectifying the subjects of the shot. The subreddit was one of a number of similarly disturbing subreddits that focus on objectifying women -- often very young women. Reddit tends to take a mostly hands off approach to this kind of thing, letting the community do what the community does. In extreme cases where the terms of service have been violated (and laws have been broken) stuff gets shut down -- but for the most part, Reddit lets the community police itself. Some Redditors figured out that the best way to deal with information they don't like is with more information and they started exposing information about the moderators of CreepShots, sometimes naming them publicly (and getting a teacher fired for posting cameraphone shots of his students -- ick).

Jezebel published an article about outing CreepShots moderators, and from that came the news that Adrian Chen at Gawker was getting set to expose one of the more well known moderators/trolls on the site, ViolentAcrez. Before this even came out, some of the moderators on one of the most popular subreddit, /r/Politics announced that they were banning links to all Gawker sites "until action is taken to correct this serious lack of ethics and integrity." Chen went on to publish the story anyway -- a well-written, thoroughly detailed story about the guy, Michael Brutsch, who admits to enjoy being a "troll" in order to get a reaction out of people. Over the weekend, Brutsch was apparently fired from his job.

There has been a lot of talk about all of this -- and about the ethics of pretty much everyone involved. Someone named Navneet Alang directly challenged us, claiming that if Facebook had "censored" an article, we'd be "raging" about it -- but that since we're somehow aligned with Reddit, that's not the case.

The truth -- as always -- is a lot more complex. First of all, let me be clear on a few things: I think that /r/CreepShots and various other subreddits like that are very troubling and ethically dubious. I equally think that the decision to ban Gawker stories from certain subreddits was stupid and really counterproductive if the intent was to draw attention away from the article. That said, the goal may have been more to create chilling effects for other journalists. And, on that front, I'm with Adrian Chen. I think he did a fantastic piece of reporting (actual journalism, yay) and should not be punished for doing so. I tend to think it makes the mods who decided to do the ban look childish and, if not directly hypocritical, very much open to charges of hypocrisy.

That said, the situation is not so simple. This is not the same thing as Facebook banning links -- because that's a company's decision that impacts its users. Reddit, on the other hand, has always been driven by its users with the mods having significant power over each subreddit they control. If they want to make a decision like banning every Gawker site -- no matter how stupid and counterproductive such a decision might be -- they have the right to do so. In some ways, the "Facebook analogy" would be more proper if the person had said that any individual had the power to block links on their own wall. Which they do -- and which no one complains about.

The different subreddits are playgrounds controlled by those mods, not by "Reddit" itself. Sometimes amazing things come out of there, and sometimes absolute crap comes out of there. This is the nature of the internet, and shutting down something or silencing one's speech doesn't change any of that. It just reshuffles the deck.

I believe quite strongly in the importance of anonymity online -- but that's mainly to the extent that the government should not be able to force anonymous speech to be connected to the speaker, except in extreme circumstances. That, however, is entirely different than an enterprising reporter discovering the details that connect someone's account to their name. The accusations by various Reddit moderators that this is somehow an unfair "doxxing" seems like an extreme overreaction. Chen put together information and reported on it. That's journalism.

But, at the same time, I think it's unfair to blame Reddit itself or its management for the (admittedly dumb) decision to block links to Gawker. Reddit is very much about what it's community decides it wants to do, and with that comes some good and bad decisions. I can (and will) criticize what I think is a bad decision by the moderators who did this, but that doesn't mean a condemning of Reddit as a whole, any more than criticizing someone who blocks others from posting to his Facebook wall or Google Groups or personal blog, automatically implicates those platform providers.

Free speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of your speech. And, in the end result, this whole situation encapsulates the power of "more speech" being the best answer to "bad speech." A giant conversation has been started and (almost) none of it has involved getting the law involved to step in and decide who is bad and who is good. Instead, in occasionally messy ways, the community is working out its own norms, and that's fascinating to watch.


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    Ninja (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:21pm

    Instead, in occasionally messy ways, the community is working out its own norms, and that's fascinating to watch.

    This pretty much summarizes all. Hopefully law enforcement and legislators will understand this at some point and stop passing bad legislation to regulate things that will be automatically filtered by the Internet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:23pm

    One sub-reddit is causing trouble, you say?

    Time to wipe out Reddit. Maybe a single DMCA notice will do it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    The accusations by various Reddit moderators that this is somehow an unfair "doxxing" seems like an extreme overreaction.


    While, I agree that they are not doing the usual ordering pizzas, prank phone calls, posting Social Security numbers, etc on the moderators. Gathering the real identities through social engineering and hacking is still doxxing.

    Do I think what the reporter and Predditor are doing is wrong? Certainly not... Bringing a name and face to actions that are inappropriate, is probably the best medicine for these idiots.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      Bringing a name and face to actions that are inappropriate, is probably the best medicine for these idiots.


      What scares me about this sentiment is the question of what is "inappropriate". Appropriateness is often terribly subjective.

      I don't think it's an appropriate activity pretty much ever (if I stretch, I can think up exceptions, but they're sketchy). It's essentially the online equivalent of a lynch mob, and can easily become a real life lynch mob.

      When there is mob rule, there is no justice, period.

       

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        Jesse (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 7:28pm

        Re: Re:

        I hardly think this qualifies as mob rule. What's the alternative...nobody does anything about a creeper?

        The creeper holds the position that he didn't break the law. And so far the mob hasn't broken the law either. Just as you say that the online lynch mob can easily become a real life lynch mob, so too can the online pedophile.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          What's the alternative...nobody does anything about a creeper?


          Shunning is an effective alternative.

          The creeper holds the position that he didn't break the law.


          Exactly. If he didn't break the law, and you don't like his actions, then ignore him. If he did break the law, then notify the authorities.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Any anonymous system has flaws. The moderators of Reddit should be technical enough to know this, and took the chances of posting data that they would rather not lead back to themselves. When a political dissident does this, they know they may be charged with treason or worse. This is no more or less than just a simple reality of life.

            If they posted the data, they should be willing to accept the consequences of it as well.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, I think you got your wish about online lynch mob turning into a real life lynch mob.
        Anonymous #OpRIP

        Hopefully, the Canadian authorities will be able to put this guy away for safety, so that he can at least stand trial.

         

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    mudlock (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    Journalism is for the powerless

    The honorably goal of journalism is to protect the powerless; to, as they say, "speak truth to power".

    That's the big difference between, say, outing anonymous political dissidents living under an oppressive regime, and, for example, outing a teacher who takes sexually suggestive pictures of his students. The difference is who has the power.

     

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      Crazytrpr (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:55am

      Re: Journalism is for the powerless

      I agree.

      Problem with all tools is they have the same moral compass as the user. We may be headed for a new form of tyranny, one based on social media with power based on the popularity of the cause (goes viral, who organizes the message and how unpopular the target(s) is(are).

      Right now going after pedo's, trolls and other creeps are the low hanging fruit. They deserve much of the punishment they are going to recieve.

      Now what happens when you run out of pedo's, trolls and creeps (more likely they go darknet or mask themselves better)?

      What happens when these "tools" bleed into legitimate politics and business as a form of intimidation? Just like what happend when a journist outted the gun owners in his area and then had his and his colleagues information published (google the Journal News). Right now no-one involved in either outting has be blacklisted, boycotted, flashmobbed (flash riotted) or assualted as far as I know, I pray it stays that way. What happens when (not if) these tactics escalate?

      Questions to ask ourselves.

      Right now I self censor on politics and economics. I don't contribute to causes: no bumper stickers/signs, no money, no volunteering and certainly no petition signing (those databases get hacked). I have small children who would likely be targeted/suffer should I choose the "wrong side". Government tyanny is the least of my worries.

       

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    harknell (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Most important quote

    I think the statement "Free speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of your speech." is the most important part. Many people take Free Speech to mean that there should be no consequences when you say something--and we all know that's not true. If what you have to say is important, and you can stand behind it no matter what consequences occur, then that's the cost of your speech, and you are willing to pay it.

    Creeps who do stupid things need to realize that they will be paying a cost for their stupidity--and the community does a great job of making that happen--way better than a legal method.

     

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      Watchit (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:33pm

      Re: Most important quote

      I agree

       

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      Jesse (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 7:32pm

      On that note...

      "Michael Brutsch, who admits to enjoy being a "troll" in order to get a reaction out of people. Over the weekend, Brutsch was apparently fired from his job."

      It seems to me that Michael Brutsch should be very happy, considering the awesome reaction he got from his employer.

       

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      Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:42am

      Re: Most important quote

      I think the statement "Free speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of your speech." is the most important part. Many people take Free Speech to mean that there should be no consequences when you say something--and we all know that's not true.
      Therein lies the double-edged sword. I find it appalling and disturbing people call it "free speech" then turn and say "I'll punish you if you say something *I* don't like".

      If the issues in the Middle East concerning a movie isn't a wake-up call, it should be. Look how many people, the "society", are upset over someone's opinion.

      Yes, it's one of those situations which now puts the filmmakers under *death threats* because the "majority" feels the film is offensive.

      That's like me making the statement "God can suck my dick". You can bet the majority will bash their heads in a rush to attack me (physically and verbally) because their pathetic little minds felt insulted.

      That's *my* right to say what I want, hence free. Yeah, it's insensitive, but I can say to someone their dress is ugly and get the near same reaction.

      People have a fickle definition of "free speech": "It's fine, as long as it doesn't insult me."

      Having served in the US Navy, my position has always been "I may hate what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

      It's amazing how attitudes make a difference in this regard. I'm ignoring, of course, the fact free speech is really the restriction imposed on our government, but even then, we can clearly see them taking down websites because they're prodded by what *others* don't like seeing.

      It's disturbing when I see people say there will be consequences while claiming something is "free".

      But it's pointless to get upset. One day, these same people will say something and wonder why they're being punished because a *new* regime has determined "free speech" can be even further restricted, now that "subreddit"-like issues have been vanquished or filmmakers have been murdered.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    On Free Speach and Slavery

    One may view a trailer for Atlas Shrugged on You Tube at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W07bFa4TzM

    Of particular interest is John Gault's speach at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEDtQkeLFCE&feature=related

    For those of you who do not like An Ryan and for thoe who idealized her, she was as great a philosopher as Carl Marks was and just like Marks there is a lot to be desired.

    The important part is that both defined most adequately the issues in a very sick society while failing to develop a way to a better one. And, thanks to technology both were too backward looking.

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

      Re: On Free Speach and Slavery

      Who is Carl Marks? Karl Marx's lesser-known brother?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

      Re: On Free Speach and Slavery

      Jesus. If you're gonna troll Marx and Rand, then at least learn how to SPELL THEIR NAMES...

      It's "Ayn" Rand and Karl "Marx," butthead.

      And while I'm at it, how about linking to things they actually wrote instead of crap created to make money or serve an agenda?

      http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm

      http://books.go ogle.com/books?id=0gLzGn-LYAQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=atlas+shrugged&hl=en&ei=9sW4Tb 8vhODRAe357NwP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage& amp;q&f=false

       

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      tqk (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:14am

      Re: On Free Speach and Slavery

      One may view a trailer for Atlas Shrugged on You Tube ...

      Disclaimer: I've not seen either the movie or the trailer.

      However, I very much doubt that "Atlas" can be sufficiently distilled to fit into the Hollywood format without massive lossage.

      After decades of familiarity with her and her works, I think it best to think of her as primarily an artist. Her medium (for good or ill) was philosophy, ethics, and morality. On that level, I think she was pretty damned good. That also explains much of the inconsistencies in her life that many over the years have pointed to, often justifiably. She was an artist who believed she was a philosopher. I thought she carried that well.
      The important part is that both defined most adequately the issues in a very sick society while failing to develop a way to a better one.

      I disagree. Marx was a pie in the sky dreamer. How he could have come to believe people would eventually come around to his way of thinking, I can't imagine. His understanding of human nature was pathetically simplistic.

      As for Rand, what do you think Galt's Gulch was? It was the innocent producers standing up on their hind legs and refusing to be enslaved anymore. It was the ultimatum thrown in the face of their enslavers telling them that their intended target wasn't going to passively accept enslavement any more. When the enslavers wised up, they'd be back, but not before. The potential victims didn't need their victimizers. Instead, the victimizers very much needed the potential victims for their very survival.

      FWIW, I am on strike. There's very few employers out there these days that I'd be willing to work for, and present day governments and regimes make even that prospect look decidedly unattractive. I don't expect any of that to change soon, but such are the times we're in. Too bad, for everyone.

      My next employer? Ragnar Daneskjold's School of Confrontational Politics and Gunboat Diplomacy. :-)

      Have fun.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Yet another reason to keep your online life and your real life entirely separate.

     

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    MRK, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    The more interesting side effect of these events is subreddits waging open war on other subreddits.

    Reddit's communities are increasing growing intolerant of each other.

    You can probably sum the whole thing up as: "Anonymous speech I agree with is fine; but your anonymous speech is wrong and must be purged."

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      "You can probably sum the whole thing up as: "Anonymous speech I agree with is fine; but your anonymous speech is wrong and must be purged.""

      Clint Eastwood summed it up best when he said "Opinions are like arse holes, everyone's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks".

       

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    Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

    Techdirt, you've *almost* got this one right. You were so close, but alas, you've made one mistake.

    Outing people who have specifically chosen to be anonymous is ethically wrong. Posting Creepshots is also ethically wrong. While delivering one as a consequence of the other may fulfil some romantic notion of poetic or frontier justice, in civilised society, we don't live by frontier justice. In civilised society, we are supposed to believe that two wrongs don't make a right. Didn't your parents ever teach you this?

    If I witness some guy calling a woman a whore for no reason, I'd be pissed off at their perfectly legal action, but I would not (nor would I condone) calling that guy a n----r as some kind of revenge. Though he might deserve it; though he might have relinquished his expectation not to be called a racist name: I would still be wrong to call him that name.

    Yes, free speech laws do not guarantee no consequences -- that's why what Adrian Chen and Gawker did is legal, and free speech too, but that doesn't make it right to destroy anonymity in order to force those consequences.

    Let me be clear: I'm glad ViolentAcrez was stopped and I feel not one bit of sympathy over him losing his job. But cannot stand up and say that the way this was achieved, was 'ethical', anymore than I can stand up and say Creepshots are ethical.

    Both actions are legal. Both are free speech. Both are wrong.

    If you wish to cheer on the outing of this individual anyway, I can certainly see your point of view, but I will not join you for the same reason I would not join you in answering misogyny with racism, or 'fighting fire with fire' or any of that flawed moral reasoning that we normally have no trouble detecting when there isn't a moral panic going on. 8)

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

      "Outing people who have specifically chosen to be anonymous is ethically wrong."

      Why?

      Why is it that the *desire* to be an anonymous misogynistic asshole automatically means that anybody who tries to find out who you really are is "unethical"?

      Sorry, if you're a misogynistic asshole who delights in tormenting others, you deserve everything you when you get caught.

       

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        Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:33pm

        Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

        Outing people in order to punish them for their free speech is wrong -- this would be very easy to see if ViolentAcrez were a political dissenter. The fact that he is using his free speech to invade women's sense of privacy does mean that he kind of deserves it, but that still doesn't make it right. There are lots of people I know who deserve a punch in the face, but that doesn't make it 'right' to actually punch them in the face.

        What is it about this issue that makes it impossible for so many to see it clearly? If you want to cheer on the dude for punching out the asshole in a bar, because he deserved it for being such an asshole, then fine, but don't pretend it's therefore 'right' to punch people out in bars.

         

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          cosmicwonderful (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

          "Free speech" is traditionally used to mean freedom from government censorship, as in your ViolentAcrez-as-political dissenter hypothetical. The ability to express ideas without lawmaker approval has historically been far more important than being able to so without community approval.

          You're hinting at, but not expressly suggesting, an expanded definition of free speech: the right to express ideas and/or content anonymously, without any real-world consequences (even non-governmental consequences). I suspect the reason other commenters have failed to see this issue "clearly" (i.e., the way you do) is that you have implicitly taken this more extreme position without supporting its extremity. Why should anonymity in expression -- without consequence -- be a right?

           

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            Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

            No I don't believe in a right not to be doxxed. You are wrong about that. There is no right to freedom from consequences, but that doesn't make forcing consequences on legal activity ethical, particularly if you have to destroy anonymity to get there. I only support that when what is being punished is *illegal* activity that is being hidden from public view, and even then I would support the doxxing without calling it 'ethical' because I just don't think it is, regardless of the legalities of the situation.

             

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              cosmicwonderful (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              My understanding of your position is that you believe:
              * Doxxing is never ethical (it's unethical?), even when used by non-government entities to punish unethical (but legal) activity
              * Despite that, you would support doxxing to punish illegal activity that is being hidden from public view


              I don't really get saying that you would support doxxing in circumstances that you think it would be unethical, but let's set that aside for now. What I really want to know is: why do you think doxxing is always unethical?

              Is it about the act and intention of doxxing? How would you feel if ViolentAcrez's boss inadvertently learned his real identity (not through an intentional doxxing like Chen's) and fired him as a result? That would be an IRL-consequence without widely destroying VA's anonymity.

              Is it about all non-expressive "punishment" (i.e., non-governmental / community-based / IRL consequences) for anonymous online speech? What if all the other sub-reddit mods banded together to punish VA instead of defend him?

              Or what if VA applied for and got a job where he could exist entirely pseudonymously (as "ViolentAcrez"), but whomever hired him didn't connect his pseudonym to his reddit actions until later -- at which point he fired him (never knowing his IRL identity)? That would be real economic punishment for his speech without doxxing.

               

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                Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:19pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                Interesting questions. I'll take the first one first. My reasoning is very simple here. I would support doxxing in order to expose illegal activity because it's the only way to catch criminals. However, prefer that law enforcement do the 'doxxing'. I prefer to call the police and report the illegal activity and let them run an investigation, because that is the way the system is supposed to work in a civilised society. I am not supposed to take the law into my own hands.

                If the law is not doing what is supposed to (often because the legal system is itself corrupt) then I support doxxing by individuals in order to spark the legal system into doing what is right. This is the only way to correct the legal system. This doesn't mean that doxxing is 'ethical', anymore than a revolutionary war makes shooting people ethical. Sometimes unethical actions are just necessary.

                In the case of ViolentAcrez I don't think it was necessary because his actions are legal and protected speech. So I don't think the threshold is met there for me support something unethical. It just wasn't necessary.

                You can use those principles to figure out how I would react in your examples, but I'll save you the trouble: ViolentAcrez's boss has no right to out and fire him for anonymously exercising his free speech. Some state laws might say otherwise: I disagree with those laws. Once he *has* been outed however, his boss might be right to fire him because now his actions are public and reflect negatively on the company. Not too sure about that one. HOwever I simply don't care about ViolentAcrez keeping his job, so I'm not losing any sleep over it.

                Any nongovernmental 'punishment' that involves exercise of free speech I am totally okay with, short of doxxing him in order to impose personal real-life punishment. That is still free speech: I am just not personally OK with it.

                As for your final scenario, that sounds like it would probably be in the clear but again, I haven't given a lot of thought to whether ViolentAcrez should keep his job. To me which consequences he gets is not the important issue so much as how they are delivered, because: the ends do not justify the means. Another one of those little cliches like 'two wrongs don't make a right' that so many seem to have forgotten about.

                 

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                  Ninja (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:58am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                  late contribution:

                  I partially agree with you. But you see, while the creepshots could be legal and free speech you said yourself they were wrong. And damaging in my opinion. How could it be fixed considering he was the mod, employee and wouldn't fix by himself?

                  Doxxing might not have been right but how else? Maybe keep it from the public and expose to Reddit staff only?

                   

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                    Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:47am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                    Not everything I think is wrong has to be fixed. Just because if I were a Reddit moderator, those pictures would never have been posted, doesn't mean that I should dox somebody to stop them from being posted. Again look at it from the point of view of a fundamentalist opposing gay rights. That person thinks homosexuality is unethical. Should they go around doxxing all the homosexuals? Or would that be even more wrong?

                     

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                    DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                    ViolentAcrez was actually added as a mod to creepshots because the existing mods couldn't handle the amount of traffic. creepshots was in no way VA's sub, he was added as a mod mere days before it was shut down. And ironically, his purpose was to remove the stuff that was beyond the gray area.

                    And it could have been fixed the same way /r/jailbait was fixed. Shut down the sub, problem solved, no one gets doxxed.

                     

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                      tqk (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:16pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                      And it could have been fixed the same way /r/jailbait was fixed. Shut down the sub, problem solved, no one gets doxxed.

                      TIL Reddit is 4chan's little brother/sister. I've looked reddit over before but never saw anything there to keep me there. I knew about the specialist subreddits, but never went there (much, I think).

                      Now, I think VA is a casualty of war. He was doing the best he could do including fitting in and helping reddit work, in places that other reddit mods wanted nothing to do with.

                      This is new for me. The net didn't used to be like this. I can agree reddit serves a purpose which would be missed if it didn't exist. Better all those fourteen year old pervs are doing this puerile crap sitting behind a computer instead of out on the street where it might hurt someone.

                      I think Reddit deserves the lion's share of blame here, not VA, but I don't think Reddit deserves a lot of blame for it either. This is how the world is today. Time marches on.

                      Just wait until the politicians hear about this. It'll be a political Earthquake.

                       

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              If you reserve the right to anonymity than the inverse must be true and you must reserve the right to discovery. Neither are guaranteed and both are subject to the wills of individuals. There is no moral high-ground here.

              Hide and seek - it is very much a game and if you're to enjoy playing it I would posit that recognition of the two parts coexisting is mandatory for participation.

               

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                Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:49am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                Like so many others, you are conflating 'rights' and 'guarantees' with morality, which is neither a right nor is guaranteed. It is impossible to understand my position unless you distinguish those two things.

                 

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            DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

            Why should anonymity in expression -- without consequence -- be a right?

            I don't think it's so much "anonymity without consequence is a right". I think it's more along the lines of "it's unethical to dox an anonymous speaker against that speaker's wishes in the absence of illegal activity".

            The reason Laroquod uses the word "clearly" is because he sees the slippery slope that this is on. Let's avoid the whole political dissident angle and go for something in between.

            Let's have an anonymous speaker, call her Alice. Alice is an atheist. Alice makes postings to atheist forums under a pseudonym and she uses derogatory language to refer to Christians.

            Further, a hardcore Christian - say, Bob (not to be confused with bob) - sees this forum and is angered by the things Alice has written. So Bob decides to dox Alice.

            Bob discovers that Alice's boss is a hardcore Christian so Bob sends him some copies of the forum posts with evidence that the speech belonged to Alice. Alice works in a state with at-will employment laws, so her boss sacks her because he only wants good Christian employees.

            Bob feels vindicated. After all, Alice was a disgusting heathen who will burn in hell for eternity.

            Was it right, moral, or ethical for Bob to dox Alice in this case?

             

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              Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              Precisely DCX2, thank you. People who base their ethics on their moral outrage, do not have any principles left to stand upon when others' moral outrage is directed at them? When the Christians come for the atheists, you aren't going to be able to consistently argue that there shouldn't be any doxxing going on, if you argued that doxxing was ethical here.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 12:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              Revealing the truth should never be considered wrong.

               

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                Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:53am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                Some hackers breaks into eBay's database and reveals everybody's credit card numbers. They are all true numbers, therefore it is right?

                Your bank manager just decides to post your banking information on his Facebook. It's the truth, so in your view, he's in the clear?

                Or let's say I'm your boyfriend and we record ourselves having sex. We break up -- I post the video online. What's wrong with that, then, in your view, since we did actually have sex and therefore all I have done is reveal the truth?

                There is no way your principle can work in the real world.

                Everybody should take a breath, and apply whatever principle they are espousing to the *whole world* and then see how they like the 'consequences'.

                 

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 1:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              ""it's unethical to dox an anonymous speaker against that speaker's wishes in the absence of illegal activity".""

              How are you defining illegal activity? Are you judging, or are you going to wait for the person to get due process, convicted, appeals, etc?

              The internet is quick to judgement, and almost impossible to undo when wrong.

               

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              Crazytrpr (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              This is exactly the slippery moral slope I terrified of far more than some distant faceless tyrranical governement. Even if Alice's boss wanted to keep her, he, his other employess their families maybe facing boycotts & assaults if he does keep Alice.

              There are a lot of nutters out there not just the religious right wing variety either willing to escalate at the slightest provocation.

               

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            ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

            "Free speech" is traditionally used to mean freedom from government censorship

            By pedants. Everyone else understands that repressing speech is censorship no matter who is the repressor.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              That's not true at all. "Free Speech" as a concept is inherent to the government and law. That's like saying a company not allowing protesters to demonstrate in the lobby of their corporate offices is the same thing as the government denying the right to freedom of assembly.

               

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                Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                What if there were only one Corporation in the whole world? Would it be okay with you if they censored everything? What about only two Corporations? There are plenty of marketplaces where there are essentially only two major players. If censorship is fine when a Corporation does, that's the same as saying that it's a bullshit rule. Government is prohibited from doing, but if enough Corporations do it, the end result is functionally the same, and we need to be cognizant of that.

                 

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        Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:34pm

        Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

        If someone wants to be a misogynistic asshole, that is their right. Free speech is there precisely to protect controversial or offensive speech. If it weren't, we wouldn't need it.

        Honestly, I don't give a crap if they are anonymous or not because I don't give a crap about who they are. They are beneath me and not worth worrying about.

         

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        MRK, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

        Says the person who posted anonymously.

        What if every single Anonymous Coward who posted pro-MPAA stuff here got their personal contact info posted?

        I'm sure the guy would get spammed with hatemail, hang-up phone calls, and worse.

         

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        DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

        Why is it that the *desire* to be an anonymous misogynistic asshole automatically means that anybody who tries to find out who you really are is "unethical"?

        Finding out who you really are? Not unethical in and of itself.

        Plastering your name all over the Internet when you specifically go out of your way to avoid said name being plastered all over the Internet? That's unethical.

        Face it, CreepShots in and of itself was not illegal, specific exceptions notwithstanding. I recall many discussions on TechDirt about photographs being taken of people/places/things in public being 100% legal. Perverts will find all kinds of innocuous things to be of a sexual nature.

        Don't get me wrong, CreepShots is not a good thing. Consent is sortof really fucking important when it comes to sex stuff. But the answer isn't to ruin one of the moderators' lives, the answer is to find a way to shut down CreepShots (see /r/jailbait saga)

        Ultimately, you're saying that because you don't like this guy, it's okay to dox him and ruin his life despite his having done nothing illegal. Have you considered that perhaps more harm has been done to him than he has ever done to anyone? Did he ever cost anyone their job? Was anyone ever assaulted because of him?

        Let us hope that you never make enemies who feel that what you do is unethical enough to deserve your being doxed.

         

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        akp (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

        Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

        To take your argument to its logical conclusion, nearly all crime is committed by people "choosing to be anonymous." That doesn't mean you get away with murder just because you don't want anyone knowing you did it.

         

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          Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

          Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

          Crime is by definition illegal. What ViolentAcrez did is not. I support doxxing to bring illegal activity into public view. (I still do not call it 'ethical' and I still wouldn't do it myself.) I do not support doxxing in order to punish legal exercise of free speech.

           

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      Millennium (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

      Frontier justice should indeed be left to the frontier, but in this particular sense the Internet is a frontier. It cannot be policed in any practical way by the centralized authorities that are typically responsible for this sort of thing in the real world, and so the frontier model is appropriate.

      This is a case of someone who has abused his anonymity to harm people without facing the consequences. The appropriate punishment is for the anonymity he has shown he cannot be trusted with to be taken away from him -in a word, to be doxxed- and to face the consequences he had hoped to avoid: the things that happen in the real world to people who do what he did. There is nothing philosophically, morally, or ethically incorrect about this.

       

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        Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

        It may be 'appropriate' but that doesn't make it morally correct. Let me ask you this. Why is it so important for you to give this retributive action the imprimature of 'ethics'? Not everything that gets done in the world has to be defined as 'ethical'. Sometimes it is better to let even well-deserved retributive actions be defined and seen as nevertheless 'unethical', so that the next generation's moral reasoning will not be clouded and the line of what is 'ethical' will not be continuously repainted until frontier justice is the norm.

        Maybe the people who punish people like ViolentAcrez, need to accept the label 'grey moral warrior' and live with it, so that important principles like free speech and anonymity don't get eroded and obscured in the minds of the next generation, who, after all, we will all have to rely upon to protect these values.

        Why does everybody has to twist reality in order to make themselves all morally *comfortable* all the time?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

          Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

          Can't truly make it a moral issue, either, since one's morals are specific to them. I find nothing about disclosing a trouble-make immoral. If all they are doing is being there to derail discussion and cause havoc, then finding out who they are is a great first step to shutting them down.

           

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            Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 4:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

            So we have already expanded from 'objectifiers' to 'trouble-makers' and anyone who 'derails discussion' and 'causes havoc'. Those people should all be doxxed?? Thanks for demonstrating the danger of this sort of thinking so concisely.

             

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          Millennium (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 7:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

          I'm not the one giving the just outing of this the imprimatur of "ethics". I merely said there was nothing ethically wrong with it, in contrast to your assertion that it is ethically wrong to force him to face the consequences of his acts.

          This is not a free speech issue. The actions of creepshots amounted to invasion of privacy at the absolute least, and arguments could be made for charges as serious as harassment and stalking. Free speech should be absolute, but doesn't mean it should shield someone from the consequences of other crimes they commit by doing so.

          Will this person's life be ruined? Not by a long shot, though he will probably be inconvenienced for a time. The thing about doxxing is that the consequences one faces are determined entirely by the actions that doxxing ties to them. No one cares when a garden-variety troll gets doxxed, and even the more spectacular examples get written off quickly: it takes something truly egregious, as this case is, for there to be any truly major or lasting effects. The harm to his life is entirely self-inflicted: he could not deserve it more.

           

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            Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

            So you think that there is nothing ethically wrong with it, but nothing ethically right with it either? That's a weird category that I don't really think exists. There is no shrug, either you think it's ethical or it's not, in my book. I don't get this in-between thing. It's kind of like 'a little bit pregnant'.

            As for it amounting to an invasion of privacy, I have heard this before and the answer to that is obvious. If someone has does something illegal, call the cops. No one is arguing here that free speech should protect illegal activity like stalking.

            And much as you might wish the most egregious consequences on this troll, what all of the proponents of this seem to steadfastly refuse to answer and consider is that this same thinking could be used by literally any freak with a grudge to justify any consequences on anyone for speech, and claim that the harm is entirely self-inflicted. After all, if he hadn't done anything wrong, by mocking Muhammed, or by saying there is no God, then he would have nothing to worry about. So, he gets what's coming to him. Why is that logic unethical, and yours ethical? Simply because your targets are eviller than their targets?

             

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              Millennium (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

              To say that something can only be ethically wrong or ethically right is a rather black-and-white way to see things. A spectrum can't exist without endpoints to define it, but is there truly nothing in the middle?

              Also, you are in fact saying that free speech (vis-a-vis anonymity) should in fact be allowed to protect illegal activity. If people cannot be tied back to their harmful actions, that is de facto protection.

               

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                Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:53am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                No I am not saying that. I have said many times on this page that I support the police doxxing people to pursue illegal activity, and if the police don't do their jobs and the illegal activity continues, then I would support somebody doxxing a criminal in order to get the police involved. But that should not be the first resort and nor would I call it 'ethical' in any case. Sometimes an unethical thing needs to be done particularly when the system fails to do what it is supposed to do. But if the activity is legal and protected speech, then there is no such exigency. In that case I would not support the doxxing, and do not.

                 

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                  DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                  You clearly said "If someone has does something illegal, call the cops" and yet his reply is "you are in fact saying that free speech (vis-a-vis anonymity) should in fact be allowed to protect illegal activity".

                  *insert picture of Fry*

                  Not sure if trolling, or just illiterate.

                   

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                    Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:55pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

                    Not to mention the fact that Millenium entirely ignored my inconvenient question. Have you noticed this? Almost every single defender of this doxxing, when asked directly -- why doesn't your logic apply equally to a religious fundamentalist punishing a heretic? -- just disappears, stops posting, ignores the question, pretends it doesn't exist.

                    It's a massive, collective case of 'let's all steadfastly look-the-other-way on the ethics in order to punish the social freak'. These people *know* in their hearts that they are doing something wrong. They just want it to be done, so they don't care to confront the issue of ethics.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:41pm

                      I'm sure doxxing heretics happens a lot. Just look to the news about Malala from Pakistan and the global support for her cause. I guess you don't remember Pussy Riot being arrested either? The difference is you will get empathy from people when you are punished for voicing concerns that are not taking creepshots or basically just being an idiot for self gratification and kudos.

                       

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                        Laroquod (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 3:53am

                        Re:

                        Well nobody is really arguing that ViolentAcrez deserves empathy -- I certainly have no empathy for him, and especially not for Reddit. I simply don't let my sense of empathy dictate my principles for me -- if I did, then they wouldn't be principles at all, would they? They'd just be a great big mushy pile of hypocritical empathy.

                         

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      tqk (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:53am

      Re: Moral reasoning can be a tricky thing

      ... or 'fighting fire with fire' or any of that flawed moral reasoning that we normally have no trouble detecting ...

      I'll raise you, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." The Internet is the ultimate glass house and creeps like that deserve all the moral opprobrium we can throw at them.

      He wanted to get a rise out of people with his appalling behaviour? He got one. He should be satisfied. Nobody ever agreed that he'd like what he was asking for.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

    Gawker sites make money from making controversy and then getting hits. They need to be banned from everywhere so their trolling stops when they stop getting free hits from nerds raging.

     

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    TheLoot (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Gawker...

    ...is a cesspool of self-righteous crusaders. Ruining people's lives for what amounts to harmless actions is fucked up. Anyone who agrees with this is a fucking psychopath.

     

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

      Re: Gawker...

      Gawker's Adrian Chen and the moderators of Reddit have both behaved equally poorly in this affair. I don't agree with either of their actions. The way it has worked out is OK though because hopefully, the 'frontier justice' will be enough people will not be pushing for more laws to curtail our free speech rights even more. That may still happen though -- this is not over. That's on reason why I refuse to jump on the cheering 'lynch mob' bandwagon. I don't like where it's headed.

       

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        Gisele (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:35pm

        Re: Re: Gawker...

        Frontier justice means only the worst offenders will be unmasked, not people who post to tech forums or express unpopular political opinions. If formal justice is the only means of controlling miscreants then we will need laws that apply to everyone.

        It's up to all you serious techie folks to decide. Frontier justice, or formal justice? If tech people are against controlling their own, I will vote in favor of laws to do it.

         

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          Laroquod (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 3:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Gawker...

          They are not 'my own'. This Reddit troll has no greater connection to me than he does to you.

          'Frontier justice' does not mean only the worst offenders will be unmasked. It means everybody will be unmasked, because no matter who you are there is somebody who thinks what you're doing is immoral.

          If you want to vote for more laws, go ahead. That is the way the system works.

           

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          Crazytrpr (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Gawker...

          Unpopular opinions will also get unmasked.

          Politics is a lot like religion. A Political position is a gut level reaction justfied by "logic". It becomes part of person's core being. Telling them that political policy or platform is wrong/evil; you are calling them wrong/evil. Want to see it in action start a discussion on: Taxes, guns, abortion, privacy, property rights etc...

          We are headed toward a mob tyranny. I used to say social media was like a small town with two billion people. It may be more like a JR Highschool/Middle School with 2 billion screaming hormonal tweens, except these are adults with adult resources and capacity for trouble..

           

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

    The only thing going on here is free speech and voluntary association.

    Creepy guy posting offensive pictures: Free speech.
    People denouncing those pictures: Free speech.
    Reporter outing the creepy guy: Free speech.
    Denouncing the reporter: Free speech.
    Deciding to remove links to the reporter: Voluntary association.
    Denouncing the decision to remove the links: Free speech.
    Deciding to fire the guy for being creepy: Voluntary association.
    Denouncing the company for firing the guy: Free speech.

    On and on it goes, and that's okay. This is how it's supposed to work. No violence, no government involvement. Just people talking and choosing who they want to associate with depending on their own personal values.

     

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:58pm

      Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

      Agreed. Except that there is a difference between what is moral and what is legal. I refuse to define my morality by what is legal. Therefore, even though the things you listed are free speech, and all legal, and no laws should be passed to prevent any of them, nevertheless, some of them are wronger than others because morality and the law are two separate things.

       

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        Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

        Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

        I define immorality as violence or threats of violence against people or their property, so from my perspective, the actions of everyone involved are both legal and not immoral. YMMV, of course. :)

         

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          Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

          So you can lie all you want in order to get what you want, and that's moral? You can out gays & lesbians, and tattle on people's personal sexual affairs to the news media? Well, I guess that explains the whole political process...

           

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            Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

            I think it's possible to believe something is a bad idea or to refuse to associate with people who do certain things, without thinking those things are immoral.

            For example, I think all drugs should be legal, and I don't believe it's "immoral" to use drugs, but that doesn't mean I want to try any myself, or hang around with meth-heads all day.

            Just because I find something offensive (wasabi-flavored ice cream, I'm looking at you) does not mean I also find it immoral. And yes, I'm aware that I'm definitely in the minority here. I'm okay with that.

             

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              Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

              Interesting distinction you make. I had actually never thought of slicing it that way. But tell me: do you think doxxing people is ever "a bad idea" or "offensive"? And if you do ever think that, what makes it a bad idea and why doesn't that apply in this case?

               

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                Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 6:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

                For me, I guess your question boils down to: "Would you ever stop being friends with a person or stop doing business with a company that exposed the real identity of an anonymous writer?"

                Sure, I can think of a few examples that might make me say "C'ya!" Exposing the identity of an anonymous poster of anti-government material, for example.

                Still not immoral, though.

                 

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                  Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 6:17pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

                  Sounds to me like you're talking about someone like Adrian Lamo, in which case, yeah we'll just have to disagree, because I'm sorry but that dude is a rat-bastard.

                   

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              brooke, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 9:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

              Wasabi-flavored ice cream?

              Clearly immoral.

               

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      DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:19pm

      Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

      Have you considered that even if it's okay to dox anonymous speakers that you don't like, you effectively set up a form of prior restraint? We can haggle over whether the chilling effect is a positive or negative, but I think it's pretty clear that in a world where doxxing someone is considered ethical that a lot of speech will be suppressed by people who would have otherwise made that expression in the absence of the fear of being doxxed.

       

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        Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

        Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

        We censor ourselves all the time so that we don't offend people in our lives. Just because you might think your boss is a dumbass doesn't mean you march into his office and call him out, for example.

        That's not "prior restraint" or somesuch; it's simply the knowledge that people will judge you by how you act, and there's nothing wrong with that.

         

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          DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 6:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

          I don't think we "censor" ourselves. We compartmentalize our lives so that our various expressions reach a limited audience. For instance, we generally don't talk about our sex lives with our parents. This isn't to say that we never talk about our sex lives to anyone, it's just that we create an artificial barrier to limit the free flow of information.

          When you say it's okay to dox someone, what you're saying is that it's okay for someone to tell your parents what your sex life is like, should that someone happen to find out through legal means, or that you're an atheist, or that you're gay, etc. Free speech and all that, right?

          The reason this is prior restraint is that in a society where doxxing is considered an acceptable form of punishment for violating someone else's morals/ethics, you will have people who will no longer express themselves even in the compartmentalized manner.

          You're right, you don't march into the boss' office and call him out for being a dumbass. But if you ranted on reddit about what a dumbass your boss is, and someone doxxed you for it to get you fired, is that okay? Now imagine our society praises people for being doxxed in a manner like this and you can see why most people would no longer feel safe to express themselves.

           

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            Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 10:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

            "Free speech and all that, right?"

            Right.

            "But if you ranted on reddit about what a dumbass your boss is, and someone doxxed you for it to get you fired, is that okay?"

            Define "okay". It's not wrong or immoral, if that's what you mean. I might not like it, but that's not the same thing as it being wrong.

            The argument that we can't allow free speech ("doxxing") because it might impair free speech is a non-starter of an argument, unless you also believe in "banging for virginity" and "going to war to keep the peace".

             

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              DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

              Watch the strawman...I never said we can't allow it, as if some sort of legislation is required. I said that we as a society should frown upon doxxing people for anonymous speech that we happen to find offensive (e.g. stop giving gawker page views). To do otherwise is to encourage people to dox for whatever petty reason they might have, and I don't like the idea of living in a world where doxxing is encouraged.

              And there is no "might" about it. A lot of redditors are especially interested in how reddit handles this, because they are absolutely terrified of being doxxed. Doxxing is already having a chilling effect on the community. In a world where doxxing is an acceptable form of extralegal punishment, all forms of controversial anonymous speech will be suppressed.

              And, in my opinion, getting people fired for reasons unrelated to performance of their job duties is pretty immoral. I have heard that ViolentAcrez wife has a disability (unverified), so now that he lost his job, there goes their health insurance. Sounds to me like you don't see anything wrong with the idea that a man lost his job and health insurance for reasons unrelated to job performance or illegal activity.

               

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                Dreampod, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

                If causing someone to get fired from their job also loses them their health benefits, we shouldn't hold them responsible for their actions because it might cause additional harm? Isn't the fact that they lose their health insurance indicative of a profound failure of the US health care management rather than a reason he should avoid consequences from his actions?

                 

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                  DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 1:58pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

                  While I will agree that predicating health insurance on employment leads to massive amounts of misery through situations, like this, you're not representing my complete argument. Health insurance is just a small piece of it.

                  Causing someone to get fired from their job, for reasons that do not involve illegal activity or poor job performance, is immoral. That's what happened here - Adrian Chen does not like someone, but he can't turn the guy into the cops because the guy has done nothing illegal, so instead he digs up some nasty dirt and gets the guy fired from his job. That represents an attack on an innocent person's welfare (innocent, in this context, means "not convicted of violating any laws, civil or criminal").

                  How will he pay the rent? How will he pay the electric bill or the gas bill? How will he buy food? His ability to live is now in jeopardy, all without a shred of due process.

                  Not once did I say "don't hold him responsible". Attacking his online persona is fair game. Doxxing him so that he loses his job despite engaging in zero illegal activity? In my opinion, that crossed the line, and if I were ViolentAcrez I would be looking to sue Adrian Chen and Gawker for tortious interference.

                   

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                    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

                    That's what happened here - Adrian Chen does not like someone, but he can't turn the guy into the cops because the guy has done nothing illegal, so instead he digs up some nasty dirt and gets the guy fired from his job. That represents an attack on an innocent person's welfare (innocent, in this context, means "not convicted of violating any laws, civil or criminal").

                    Given this I hope you are supporting candidates that protect workers' rights and don't allow them to be fired at the employer's discretion. Have you seen the articles about employers who are telling their workers that if they support Obama they may lose their jobs?

                     

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I Dont See Anything Wrong Here

            This is where labor laws should come into play. I don't know about the specifics of VA's firing, but if it was unjust he should sue his company for wrongful termination. He'll probably still have to find another job, but at least he'll be guaranteed health benefits during the process. I think this is basically state laws that decide most of the specifics, but it's definitely an avenue for him to pursue.

            My point is that anonymity is more of a perceived benefit from technology, but as technology progresses it's becoming more of a thinner line. As speaker recognition becomes more refined, any online forum will be basically loose anonymity due to the technology itself.

             

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

    But Mike sez: "I think it's unfair to blame Reddit itself or its management". -- Baloney, just Mike again excusing a corporation from responsibility. But they knew and directly facilitated a guy who was always over the edge, not just a matter of bad taste. Anything for page views and more money.

    There's a simple rule: if your mother and grandmother wouldn't approve of HOW you state your opinions, then don't do it. That's the leverage I used last year to (briefly: he relapsed in my absence) suppress Mike's use of vulgarisms.

    My solution as ever, is indirect but would be effective, and that's tax the hell out of NON-productive activities; in this instance, web forums. There's a huge difference in many ways between people who make products and those who get an income from various grifting that in no way builds society or its values, only skims from the rest. -- And it's not difficult to classify who does which. Mike here is a grifter who re-writes and (somehow) provides a forum for various nattering that produces nothing, so tax the hell out of him. (I'd still like to know how he affords lobbying trips to DC too.) Free speech isn't suppressed when less of it and therefore more valued.

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      "There's a simple rule: if your mother and grandmother wouldn't approve of HOW you state your opinions, then don't do it."

      That's bollocks. People have a right to air their opinions however they want regardless of who approves. If you don't like it, ignore them. That is your right.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      ...wow.

      If you were any more of a hypocrite, you'd be in the dictionary unde rthe definition. You call Mike out for "excusing a corporation from responsibility", yet you also call him out for the same when he criticises a corporation.

      Moreover, webforums have a productive use, psychologically speaking - they prevent activity fatigue (continuously doing a task without surcease is exponentuially less productive over time. That's why people have breaks.) So to call webofrums non-productive is a weak argument at best and throwing the baby out of the bathwater at worst.

       

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      DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:12pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      OOTB wants to tax web forums, eh?

      There are web forums that offer tech support. For instance, the makers of an anti-malware program called ComboFix run a forum where they offer assistance to people whose computers have been infected. Would you tax them?

      http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/

      What about the Steam forums, where people often go for advice on how to get a game to run on their system? I frequently go on the Steam forums to see what kinda patches are required in order to have older games run on Windows 7 (for instance, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines requires a patch in order to run on systems with too much RAM)

      http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2025035

      I'm also a member of a forum of game modders. We use a mod called Sourcemod that allows us to write plugins for pretty much any game based on the Source engine.

      https://forums.alliedmods.net/forumdisplay.php?f=123

      So, do you want to tax ALL web forums? Or just the ones that don't meet your definition of "productive"? Are you prepared to give the government the power to determine which of your hobbies are "productive" and therefore can be discussed in forums without extra taxes?

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      That's the leverage I used last year to (briefly: he relapsed in my absence) suppress Mike's use of vulgarisms.


      Do you really think that Mike (or anyone) gives a shit about what YOU think is vulgar?

      That's fucking hilarious.

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      My solution as ever, is indirect but would be effective, and that's tax the hell out of NON-productive activities...


      In my opinion, pretty much all of your comments are non-productive OOTB.

      You better start writing those checks to good ole' Uncle Sam soon.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:19pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      If you're so against non-productive activities, ootb, then what the hell are you doing here?

      And to think, you were doing SO WELL during your absence...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 4:26pm

      Re: Reddit is a snake-pit, knowlingly let "Violentacrez" go for years.

      My grandmother is a racist. Not the sort of sterling set of morality I choose to follow. I also don't agree with my mother. So, you know, don't be a twat about it. (I've got no problem with fuckin' vulgarisms. Colorful speech isn't necessarily incorrect speech just as long as it isn't being directed at the opposing side of a debate.)

       

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    art guerrilla (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:46pm

    NOT gonna be PC...

    1. i *used* to be a 'feminist', but after the new wave of ultra-orthodox feministes who pilloried EVERYTHING that was even slightly non-worshipful of all things feminazi, i could care less about the butthurt feelings of the shrill shrikes...

    here is the thing: in THEIR 'sexual empowerment', they will 'objectify' (WTF does that even *REALLY* mean in this context?) men ALL DAY LONG AND TWICE ON SUNDAYs, and *that's* a 'good' thing...

    now, IF 'objectification' is an unmitigated 'wrong' (and not only do i not think it is, i think it is INEVITABLE), isn't it equally wrong for fem'tards to engage in that as well ? ? ?
    are they EQUALLY unforgiving in shouting down their sisters who objectify men ? ? ? (OR, even objectify other wymnz ?)
    No, they are not, they are hypocrites; they do NOT want to be 'equal', they want to have 'superior' rights...

    i will interject this right here:
    in this world, you have a right to NOT be assaulted, you do NOT have the right to NOT be insulted...

    2. as i recall the picture the fired teacher took, there was nothing inherently 'sexual' or creepy about THE PICTURE, it was like any of a thousand random, casual pictures they would have in their yearbook; BUT, it was the context of a person in authority sharing it as *some* sort of turn on/whatever, that made it creepy...

    3. lastly, i am *not* down with the outing of the moderator at the creepy pictures blog, here is why:
    how about we have someone do an 'investigation' that turns up YOU are subscribed to (fill in the blank with what ANYONE ELSE thinks is perverted/'bad') newsgroup, and YOUR boss/spouse/parents, etc are informed of this -presumably disgusting- fact/truth, and YOU are fired/divorced/beat up/whatever...
    i mean, *that's* still okay, right ? ? ?

    watch that slippery slope, the first step is a doozy...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

      Re: NOT gonna be PC...

      I agree with everything you have said here, and thank you for having the courage to say it.

       

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 1:56pm

      Re: NOT gonna be PC...

      Could not have said it better myself. Have an insightful vote.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        Judging by the poor grammar and capitalization I believe you most likely could have said it better, however, his points were good.

         

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      mudlock (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:41pm

      Re: NOT gonna be PC...

      Oh good lord, someone's gone and put on their "poor put-upon target of misandry" sympathy-hat, and worse, the Techdirt community has labeled it insightful. Until now, I had thought better of it.

       

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      TroutFishingUSA, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:46pm

      Re: NOT gonna be PC...

      i *used* to be a 'feminist', but after the new wave of ultra-orthodox feministes who pilloried EVERYTHING that was even slightly non-worshipful of all things feminazi, i could care less about the butthurt feelings of the shrill shrikes...


      Wow... wow. At least we see your true colors here. "Feminazi?" So you get your talking points from Rush Limbaugh? Classy, man, classy.

      And it's "couldn't care less." We wouldn't want anyone to think you love those "shrikes" (really progressive dialogue there).

      here is the thing: in THEIR 'sexual empowerment', they will 'objectify' (WTF does that even *REALLY* mean in this context?) men ALL DAY LONG AND TWICE ON SUNDAYs, and *that's* a 'good' thing...


      Oh, so what you're saying is that you don't actually know any feminists. Because objectification, of either sex or middlesex, is frowned upon.

      Objectify, in this context, means to value somebody purely as a physical object for your pleasure; to ignore that there's a human consciousness on the receiving end of your thoughts, words, and actions.

      Have you ever been objectified? Have you ever been nothing more than "a hole in the mattress" to someone? Have you had groups of teenage boys grope you as you walk down Broadway in Times fucking Square? Have you stood frightened and alone on a moving subway while a man disrobed and proceeded to pleasure himself in front of you? I suspect that you have not, and I implore you to shut your fucking mouth and beg the mod to delete this little spiel that will follow your non-anonymous ass for the rest of your life.

      now, IF 'objectification' is an unmitigated 'wrong' (and not only do i not think it is, i think it is INEVITABLE), isn't it equally wrong for fem'tards to engage in that as well ? ? ?


      "Fem'tards?" Really?

      You think it's inevitable that men will objectify women, and vice versa? I see now why you're not a feminist; you're a caveman/woman operating with a lizard brain. I would say you're a "reptard" but I've met some really forward-thinking lizards in my day, and some beyond-smart 'retards,' so I'd hate to insult them.

      But to answer your question: feminists look down on any kind of objectification. The basic tenet is that all people are approached as people, not as objects or along predefined gender roles.

      i will interject this right here:
      in this world, you have a right to NOT be assaulted, you do NOT have the right to NOT be insulted...


      Huh? You have neither of those rights "in this world." Laws are regionally based, and in some places insulting the wrong person most definitely is a crime. And if you pose a threat to others, you most definitely do not have a right to not be assaulted.

      how about we have someone do an 'investigation' that turns up YOU are subscribed to (fill in the blank with what ANYONE ELSE thinks is perverted/'bad') newsgroup, and YOUR boss/spouse/parents, etc are informed of this -presumably disgusting- fact/truth, and YOU are fired/divorced/beat up/whatever...
      i mean, *that's* still okay, right ? ? ?

      watch that slippery slope, the first step is a doozy...


      What are you on about? This is PRECISELY how things work right now, regardless of the law. What can you do to stop people from judging you for the activities you participate in?

      Here's the real lesson: anonymity on the internet is a fantasy. There's nothing wrong with wanting to remain superficially anonymous (I'm doing it right now); but believing that said anonymity is a veil under which you can exercise your primal desires without anyone ever finding out? ... well, if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

       

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        art guerrilla (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 4:36pm

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        1. i have a real email address that is pretty much all over the place: art guerrilla at windstream dot net
        you want to have a private set-to, we can do that (you will not)...
        otherwise, you are making an unnecessary scene in front of the kampers, with your -to mix metaphors- knee-jerk jumping to conclusions, and presumptuous ascribing of positions and values to me that i don't hold...

        2. i *purposefully* use a feminist dog-whistle term (oops, i did it again...) like 'feminazi' for a number of reasons... first, it outs the feminazis; (i know, crazy, isn't it ?)
        secondly, i could not be more anti-rush limpballs than anyone (*except* for that confounded principle of true free speech! damn, trapped by my principles again!), but even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while...
        *snicker*

        3. and, yes, professor dickless, i know what 'objectification' 'means'; but my point was, it has become so misused and overused as a concept, that it is all but meaningless... when porn/looking/talking/propositioning become akin to rape, there is no more discussion possible...

        4. oh, thanks for the grammar-nazi shit, too... i -in fact- *could* care less, but i simply won't bother with the effort... *snarkasm*

        5. the rest of your emotional screed (tl;dr) is probably only proof of my views, thanks for that...

        (succinct bullet points, next time, D+.)

        oh, sweet geebus, i made the mistake of reading some of your irrational jabberings; you may be able to read words, but apparently the meanings, context, and subtext of them all strung together elude you...

        art guerrilla
        aka ann archy
        eof

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 4:42pm

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        I've known many, MANY feminists in my life, and both you and art guerilla are correct. Just because you haven't seen it does not mean it does not exist. Your little explosion does a lot to prove the point, though. There are feminists, and then there are feminazis. Congratulations on never having had the displeasure of running into the latter. They give the former a very terrible name.

         

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          Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

          Bingo, anonymous person! And I don't want to 'derail the discussion' or anything, since according to one of our friends upthread, that's an offence punishable by DOXXING (lol), but I bet Mr. Julian Assange can't say he hasn't run into one or two of the "latter". 87

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 7:07pm

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        /r/circlejerk is that way ------------->>

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:06pm

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        FYI: I do consider myself an advocate for women's rights, and I speak out against male domination whenever I get the chance (fwiw I am male)

        I ALSO speak out against feminazism, as it is extremely counter productive to the overall goal of equality. That does not make me a misogynist.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:32pm

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        "Oh, so what you're saying is that you don't actually know any feminists. Because objectification, of either sex or middlesex, is frowned upon."

        No true scotsman, eh?

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:02am

        Re: Re: NOT gonna be PC...

        FYI: I do consider myself an advocate for women's rights, and I speak out against male domination whenever I get the chance (fwiw I am male)

        I ALSO speak out against feminazism, as it is extremely counter productive to the overall goal of equality. That does not make me a misogynist.

         

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      Ninja (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:29am

      Re: NOT gonna be PC...

      I'm not sure, it's more complex than that. The guy was an employee of the company which services he used. Could it be said that he abused his position?

      You made very real and valid points have my insightful vote. However, while I despise the moral police, I do think there's an issue here. But I also agree that it could be solved in other ways.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    An aside on free speech, this right does not guarantee that you can say what you like in a any forum, the rules of the forum should be obeyed, and moderators are entitled to take down or block speech that is outside their rules. However you can say what you like in a forum that you own.
    While anonymity should be a righjt, their is also the risk that the real person may be outed, and therefor to use anonymity take care not to reveal who you are. Being offensive will increase the risk of being outed, as more people have a reason to out the offensive person.
    It would be unethical to out an anonymous person where they are trying to work against an oppressive regime, as this could well cost them their life. An offensive moderator of a forim, even if they split their moderation and offensive names or tags is a different matter, especially as being offensive does not aid any discussion.

     

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      The problem with your last paragraph is, who defines what is an 'oppressive regime'? Is America an oppressive regime? I think a lot of people think America is not an oppressive regime and will see somebody criticising it as 'an offensive moderator', and then your ethics will be turned on its head.

      That is why I prefer to say that it simply isn't ethical to dox people, full stop. Sometimes, however, it is deserved. Sometimes, when the person being doxxed is part of an oppressive regime and they are being doxxed in order to expose their illegal activity, I'll even approve (see: Aaron Barr). But I will never call it 'ethical'.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 3:33pm

        Re: Re:

        I mentioned the opressive regime as a danger of outing. I respect anonymous speech in any reasoned argument, however it it is only being used to cover rudeness then it may be reasonable to out the person to try to restore reasonable discussion.

         

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    BentFranklin (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    It all depends on how the doxxers got their information. If they found it through Google, EXIF information, and other publicly available information, then I have no problem with it, because the people outed put that information on the web. If they got it by being Reddit mods, then I believe it was wrong, by Reddit community standards, and they should be expelled by Reddit. If they got it through illegal access to ISP/police/DHS security databases, then they should be charged with crimes.

     

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      TheLoot (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

      Re:

      If their real information was never voluntarily connected to their pseudonymous information, it is a direct violation of their right to and expectation of privacy.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    While doing a bit of modding at Reddit, I don't agree with all the stuff that goes on. Nor do I tend to go to the places I don't agree with in this case.

    What's carefully danced around, saying without just coming out and saying it, is that a lot of the particular subreddits that ViolentAcrez produced were underage girls. That's not a place I want to be.

    ViolentAcrez was allowed to stay around for a few reasons. He was well connected with the admin of Reddit and assisted in the fine line that separates art from what can only be considered sexual molestation or exploitation. He himself often made reddits or posts to antagonize and troll because the communities upvotes determines who stays on the front page. By the trolling he tried to prove himself a more interesting character than the majority of users. It resulted in him getting a special icon award for his participation. That participation is messy and borders what the law could look into with valid reasons.

    Personally, I have no use for this type of character. Most times I'm normally willing to allow for differences of opinion as that's educational. Trolls, like the one that seems to inhabit the underside of Techdirt, I have little patience for.

     

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    Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 2:54pm

    i can understand Chen's decision, but i can't forgive it. being a mod on the shady side of the internet involves mostly eating a mountain of dicks, from a mountain of assholes.

    It's always open season, at the best of time, it's a lot like being a trustee in a prison full of autistic semisociopaths.

    the redditor was a hardcore troll for a long time, he had to know that if you piss off enough people, one of them's going to find you and shut you up. that's just the way life goes.

    But there's no greater offense than using someones information to reach out and wreck their real life, because you can't outargue them on the web.

    I doubt many will agree with me, it's just.... principle.

     

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    DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

    For those of you who think that Adrian Chen did nothing wrong - do you think it's okay to out a gay or lesbian individual who is in the closet? If you do not think it is okay, how is that any different from doxxing someone?

     

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:54pm

      Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

      I predict no one will have a good answer for this.

       

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      TheLoot (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:59pm

      Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

      Yep, let's start outing everyone and see how long people think it's right.

       

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      Millennium (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 7:23pm

      Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

      If you do not think it's OK to kidnap someone and lock them in the basement, how is that any different from putting someone in prison?

      If you do not think it's OK to force someone to give you large sums of money, how is that any different from imposing a fine?

      If you do not think it's OK to force someone to do unpaid labor, how is that any different from a community service requirement?

      All of these are tools used by societies to punish those who would do harm to others; in so doing, they enforce social order. This form of doxxing is no different. To compare it to outing a closeted person is a gross false equivalency.

       

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        DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:00pm

        Re: Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

        The difference is that in literally all of your examples, society has passed laws that make the things you did illegal, and the law is being used as a mechanism to punish them.

        The law is putting you in prison. The law is imposing a fine. The law is imposing community service. If YOU tried to do any of those things as an "investigative journalist", YOU would end up in jail, fined, or doing community service.

        Do you have any evidence that ViolentAcrez committed any crimes? Is there any law that prescribes doxxing as the appropriate punishment for the crimes he has committed? Has he even seen a judge before this doxxing punishment was handed down?

        What if society wanted to enforce social order by outing gays, because they think all gay people are pedophiles like that Jerry Sandusky guy? What if being gay was actually illegal in your jurisdiction?

        There is absolutely nothing false about my equivalency. ViolentAcrez did not want the general public to know something about him that was legal but publicly humiliating. Adrian Chen told them anyway. Being gay is not illegal, and neither is moderating a shady subreddit.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 10:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

          Just to add to this, do u recall think a multi million dollar corporation would let child porn sit on their servers for months/yeas?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 10:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

            (Sorry posting on kindle fire and its a piece of crap).

            Just to add to this, do you really think a multi million dollar corporation would let child porn sit on their servers for months/years?

            He didn't even create creepshots sub, was asked to mod it later on.

            The guy may be a perv, he certainly sounds like he can be a real asshole, but he wasn't doing anything illegal and was burned at the stake in a modern day internet witch hunt.

            He isn't someone I would want to associate with, I can certainly understand why his boss fired him, but I don't agree with doxxing him just because a group of people didn't like him.

            Those without sin may throw the first stone and all...

             

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        DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

        Wow, I can't believe a bunch of people modded parent insightful. WTF? I must have pissed off some people who couldn't reconcile the cognitive dissonance generated by comparing outing to doxxing.

        NEWS FLASH. If you have not violated any laws, putting you in prison is still not OK.

        So to all those people who modded parent insightful...what laws did ViolentAcrez break? What judge sentenced him to doxxing?

         

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        Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:03pm

        Re: Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

        If you only believe in a principle in some cases, or when it suits you, or you only believe in it when it punishes people you don't like, then that is the same thing as having no principles.

         

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      G Thompson (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:49pm

      Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

      Adrian Chen might of done nothing Journalistically (is that a word?) wrong, but if he has written the article for the full intention of outing this moderator to cause them grief etc, no matter how small the intent (and based on prior statements it looks very likely that he has) , and it seems the guy has now been fired due to this outing, then Adrian could be treading on very thin legal areas in regards to interference torts (and maybe criminal areas too).

      If I was the moderator who just got sacked I would very much be talking to a good civil attorney about now and Andrew should be also talking to counsel. The sacking is going to be a problem.

       

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      Dreampod, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

      There are long standing debates within the gay and lesbian communities regarding this. The general opinion that has coalesced is that it is unethical to out somebody who isn't actively doing harm to the community. That means outing gay people that advocate against homosexuality (Republicans, anti-gay Pastors, 'ex-gay' 'therapists', etc) is fair game.

       

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        Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:07pm

        Re: Re: Comparison to outting gays and lesbians

        I find that stance just as hypocritical as what it seeks to punish, because a gay person advocating against homosexuality is fully and fairly exercising their free speech. Basically, gay people don't like gay hypocrites, and thus choose to exclude them from the ethical rule that they otherwise benefit from. While I can understand their point of view, I have to entirely disagree that it is OK to carve out an exception to your ethics just for the people who particularly piss you off.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:53pm

    "The truth -- as always -- is a lot more complex. First of all, let me be clear on a few things: I think that /r/CreepShots and various other subreddits like that are very troubling and ethically dubious."

    Mike, according to you, when it comes to the law, morals and ethics don't enter into it. It's legal or it's not. Right and wrong are only legal creations, not reality.

    If they can do it, then it is okay. Technology permits it, so it must be, right?

    Why suddenly a moral objection?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 6:41pm

      Re:

      What are you talking about?

      The only one who reads into things with that sort of reckless black-and-white view is average_joe. If it's against the law it must be wrong, so he says.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually, it's a commentary on all of the posts made here on Techdirt that says that piracy shouldn't be judged on moral grounds.

        The point is why should Mike decide that THIS is something to judge on moral grounds, but not piracy? Is it a question of "for the kids" or something low end like that?

        The only people I know who can pick and choose the time they have moral and the times they don't generally are criminals. They don't think their crime is bad, but they object greatly to the crimes of others.

         

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      Togashi (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:39am

      Re:

      Obviously Mike was laying clear his own views, otherwise the usual gang would have blasted him for not explicitly stating that he disapproves of such things. After all, to them not saying what he said would be the equivalent of expressing his support of such things.

      Mike is free to include a sentence on his own personal morals, but he did not center his entire discussion on that. He similarly feels that centering the discussion about copyright on morals is counterproductive, as he has stated clearly plenty of times.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 6:38pm

    Nobody else posted it, so here's some IRC chat logs featuring Reddit admins and mods discussing the issue.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

    When people complain that there isn't enough privacy protection on the Internet, the common retort is that one should assume everything you post on the Internet is public and you should act accordingly. So thinking you won't be outed if you post nasty stuff is a bit naive, isn't it?

    And what about hackers who take it upon themselves to post stuff that others don't want posted? Are they good guys or bad guys?

    I'm curious how consistent people are about the morality of outing.

     

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      DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:50pm

      Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

      I think it partially depends on how much effort was spent "comparmentalizing" the private information.

      For instance, if you post a naked picture of yourself and you can see your face, I don't think you have that much room to complain if you get doxxed.

      But if you always cropped your shots to remove your face, and someone doxxed you anyway, I think complaints would be justified.

      It's kinda like how when you put WEP on your router, it should be considered privacy. Really, WEP is not private at all, it's pathetically easy to break in a handful of minutes without even any clients connected to the access point. But WEP shows the intention to have privacy, just like the act of cropping your face from a naked picture you post on the Internet.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:07pm

        Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

        But if you always cropped your shots to remove your face, and someone doxxed you anyway, I think complaints would be justified.

        Okay, then people should be up in arms whenever anyone's private life gets exposed, and you know that isn't the case. Where's the outrage when a celebrity's sex tape gets released? More than likely it will go viral.

        I think people come to the defense of their friends who get outed, but don't really care (and in fact enjoy it) when others get outed.

         

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          DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

          I won't disagree that there's a certain amount of schadenfreude involved in whether people will feel outraged at someone's outing/doxxing. That's why I tried to pick two examples like being gay or atheist.

          It's easy for a reasonable person to be glad some troll got doxxed, and their joy in such a fact stops the brain train before it processes too deeply. It's much harder to be glad that someone who was gay or atheist got outed to their community, at least for Gen X'ers and beyond who are actually likely to have gay or atheist friends.

          And for the record, I think celebrity sex tapes are lame unless said tapes were released with permission of all parties appearing in the tape. In cases like Hulk Hogan, I think the person who released the tape should face legal consequences.

           

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:43pm

      Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

      If you look at all of the qualifications I have made, it is consistent. I don't agree with a lot of hacker outing either. Only when it serves to expose actual illegal activity, and even then, I wouldn't call it 'moral'. Just necessary.

      And yeah, people warn you to assume everything you post is public and not to assume you can stay anonymous. People also warn you about tigers. Does that make it right when a tiger eats you?

      A lot of people are making arguments in this thread without considering what kind of a society they are proposing. A society in which nobody says anything controversial because they might be doxed and nobody will say there's anything wrong with that, that's not a society I want to live in.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 10:12pm

        Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

        You might be consistent, but I'm skeptical that others are.

        Like I said, collectively people seem to be against outing their friends (or people they perceive as similar to themselves) but fine with outing with people they don't like or can't relate to.

        I'm wary of all data gathering companies do, so privacy issues are a concern to me. But when companies (or those who work for them) make money selling data, they seem become a whole lot less concerned about invasions of privacy. I've gotten the, "Well, then don't get on the Internet if you don't want people to collect data on you" argument a lot.

        The Reddit incident kind of reminds me of high school. Let's say there is an obnoxious student anonymously harassing people. Some students decide to catch him in the act. I think they are perfectly justified in finding a way to expose him. Or let's say it's a church group and one member is leaving vile notes around the church anonymously. I think the members have every right to spy on him to catch him.

        Or think of it as a game. One person trolls anonymously. Another person tries to unmask him. Seems like the act of trolling virtually invites some scrutiny.

        In this case the journalist didn't say, "I'll expose him so he'll lose his job." The losing of the job just happened because the guy's identity was unmasked and presumably the employer found him to be distasteful or a liability. If you think employers shouldn't be able to fire people for such reasons, then you'll probably support some of the more liberal political causes. If you feel an employer should be able to fire whomever he wants for whatever reason, then you'll probably support some of the more conservative or libertarian causes.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 11:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

          Why The Internet Cool Kids Think Gawker Outing Reddit's Violentacrez Is The 'Best Story About The Web' This Year - Forbes: "Over the years, hundreds of people have identified their trolls, either through Internet detective work or by taking their anonymous harasser to court and getting tech companies to reveal the customer behind the IP addresses and account information disclosed to them. What Chen’s piece (and a recent widely-shared one from Leo Traynor) do illustrate is that it’s perhaps getting easier to identify trolls without legal intervention."

           

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          Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

          I think you hit the nail on the head when you called doxxing a 'game'. People are thinking about it as a cat-and-mouse game, and that is a very dangerous mindset, because it is actually not a game, and there can be very serious consequences. It just so happens that in this particular case, nobody cares about the consequences. But in the future, when it becomes painfully clear that there is plenty of doxxing activity possible on certain types of victims that is far, far worse than anything ViolentAcrez ever did, then people are going to wake up and realise that they never should have supported doxxing people as 'ethical'. I just find it sad that it is going to take a serious incident of some innocent gay person or religious dissident getting doxxed, and then perpetrators pointing to Adrian Chen, before the community wakes up to this.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

            I lean more toward privacy than making everything public, so fundamentally I agree with you.

            However, as I said, when I bring up invasive practices by companies who make their money by selling consumer data, I often get the "then don't use the Internet" response.

            Here are two recent examples of how invasiveness is built into commercial use of the Internet.

            D'OH! Even Microsoft's Own Lobbyists Oppose Microsoft's 'Do Not Track' Plan - Business Insider: "Microsoft intends to launch IE10 in a default anti-tracking position, leaving consumers to allow tracking — via cookies — if they so choose. Advertisers oppose the plan because they need tracking cookies to target their ads properly; they also point out that much of the entire web economy is cookie-based, and thus Microsoft's plan potentially wipes out any revenues web publishers might gain from IE users. Up to 43% of users surf the web with Internet Explorer."

            Hacking The Future: Anonymity Matters | Techdirt: I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down... I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.

            "In July 2011, Randi Zuckerberg, then marketing director of Facebook, uttered the words above during a panel discussion hosted by Marie Claire magazine. She couldn't have anticipated the firestorm those few words would generate among those already uncomfortable with the direction the Web had taken in the preceding year.

            "Two years prior, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, gave the downright schoolmarmish advice, 'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.' Schmidt, who once led an antitrust crusade against Microsoft, has claimed that Google will avoid Microsoft's missteps because the search giant faces compelling incentives to please a customer base that will seek services elsewhere the moment Google does anything shady. But what if Google's been tracking your search results for your entire life? Google, just one of dozens of companies that mines user data, knows your favorite foods, your sexual proclivities, and your medical history, to say nothing of the personal information they host in the form of e-mails and other documents. Would it be as simple as just walking away?"

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

              You know what is funny. Sites that let (and even encourage) anonymous trolls often do so in order to drive traffic to the site (trolls can stir things up and get lots of page views for a site). And then these sites allow advertisers to track all the visitors to the site. So trolls are the bait that allows companies to track visitors.

               

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              Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

              I think you will be hard-pressed to find anyone here (or anywhere on the internet outside of Facebook or Google+) who will agree with Randi Zuckerberg on that one! I remember her making that statement and she was roundly ridiculed for it everywhere I frequent, online.

              And I agree with you on the Microsoft thing too. I am not one of these jerks who says to anyone who has their privacy violated online, 'Well, you shouldn't have put your stuff there so that makes you stupid and you deserve it.' You know why I don't say that? Because it's not true, and even if it were true, don't stupid people also have rights? I do not make statements to the effect that there are no rights for stupid people. So that handily takes care of that argument.

              There are a lot of knee-jerk arguments that are made on the internet that are so tranparently silly or evil that they are barely even worth countering. This whole 'don't care about the gullible and the naive' meme is one of them.

               

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          DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

          I think there's a fundamental difference between one person uncovering a troll, and that person plastering the troll's Personal Information (PI) all over the Internet. Someone who confronts their troll solo doesn't jeopardize the troll's livelihood. Someone who plasters the troll's PI all over the Internet is trying to get mob justice and I'm appalled that so many people are okay with this type of vigilantism.

          And for the record, there seems to be some evidence that Adrian Chen wanted to get ViolentAcrez sacked; during the telephone interview before the article went live, he told Chen that posting his PI would probably affect his employment negatively, yet Chen did it anyway.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: But what about the "don't put it on the Internet" philosophy?

            It will be interesting to see if people rally around the next exposed person if the exposed person is someone they don't like. I'll be watching to see how much consistency there is on the issue.

            We'll see far how privacy protection extends and whether the tech community as a whole will throw its full support to it. Not just against government. But also against any company/group that tries to know more about people than the people have actively given permission for. Let's have user agreements that clearly explain what info is being gathered and how to stop it.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:04pm

              Since when does technology have any moral obligation? Deep Packet Inspection, Big Data, Biometrics, these are just tools. It's like saying radio is the cause of piracy. Technology will expand to what it's capacity allows it to. New ways of discovery are only a thought behind, and people will continue to create new thoughts both in favor of privacy and against it. EULAs will have no effect on the expansion of technology. Privacy is an endless cat and mouse game, as new technology removes privacy, new technology will obfuscate the users identity.

               

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:19pm

    I just want to point out that the whole 'child porn' on reddit propaganda spread by Something Awful isn't true. Even at the hight of traffic on Jailbait, the images posted were legal and not child porn. And its a sad fact that ViolentAcres was one of the best mods on the site, responsible for keeping real CP and malware links out of reddit. He may have been creepy in his spare time, but he was very professional when working for the site. As a mod on one a few subreddits I received great help from him many times. Ironically with people like VA now gone, and Something Awful's SRS thread even more active, all it has done is flood the FBI with bogus email for non-illegal material.

     

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      DCX2, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:55pm

      Re:

      There is a certain sad irony to the fact that a man who removes actual illegal material got doxxed with the justification that he peddles in said illegal material.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

        Re: Re:

        I'll give an example from personal life. I've got got hoodie with "ちかんに注意" (Beware of Perverts) on it, but I'm probably one of the first people to raise hands on a crowded train. It's not the display, but the personal actions that display disrespect. If he decides to do the actions and post them to Reddit, than he should expect the consequences. If you bullshit about cosplay with sailor uniforms being a fetish, well that's free speech.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 8:35pm

    First they came for /r/jailbait,
    and I did not speak out because I am not a pedo

    Then they came for /r/creepshots,
    and I did not speak out because I am not a creeper

    Then they came for gawker,
    and I did not speak out speak out because I am not a douchebag

    When they came for the techdirts,
    there was no one left to speak out for us

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:02am

    First they came for /r/jailbait,
    and I did not speak out because I am not a pedo

    Then they came for /r/creepshots,
    and I did not speak out because I am not a creeper

    Then they came for gawker,
    and I did not speak out speak out because I am not a douchebag

    When they came for the techdirts,
    there was no one left to speak out for us

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Ethical or not

    Ethical or not. There's no higher authority. It might not be ethical to you but you don't get to decide what's ethical for anybody else. When you say it's unethical don't forget it's subjective. Basically you have a personal rule that deems outing as bad. I may have a personal rule that says outing douchebag ok, outing dissident not ok. Who gets to decide whether my rules (ethics) are better/higher than yours? That's right. No one. Claiming is ethical/unethical is just a form of argument from authority - a useless logical fallacy, that is.

     

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:01am

      Re: Ethical or not

      Well I am arguing for my ethics, obviously. I think the principles I use are pretty universal, but just because there is no universal ethics, doesn't mean we cannot or should not discuss what is right or wrong. That is just a recipe for living in a moral vacuum.

      In other words, you are essentially correct but I have yet to see anyone make a case for why some other system of ethics leads to better outcomes for society (particularly people who are closeted for *good reasons*) than my own system of treating doxxing as always unethical, but sometimes in the case of outing illegal activity, necessary.

       

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Trolling is a public activity

    I think one thing people are leaving out in terms of right and wrong is the negative connotations of trolling. Trolling, by definition, has been deemed a nuisance by those on the Internet. They are not artists making a protest, but people who are being disruptive for disruption's sake. So I don't think they are perceived as deserving the same protection as someone trying to overthrow a repressive government.

    Now, some would likely argue that anyone posting on the Internet has the right to have all personal information hidden if they choose (and the privacy movement is certainly fighting data-collecting companies to guarantee that), but if we believe all posts on the Internet are equally valuable, why do we even have a term for trolling? Someone has made a value judgment about the desirability or not about the content being posted.

    Also, what about phone pranks back in the day? Was that considered free speech, implying you weren't allowed to track down who was harassing you? And another question: Where is the line between stalking/harassment and free speech?

     

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      DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:57pm

      Re: Trolling is a public activity

      It's about proportion. Yes, trolls are bad. We want to get rid of them.

      But we don't want trolls to lose their job. At least I don't. That seems to be a disproportionate response.

      Further, the idea that someone could dox me for saying something mildly controversial bothers me a *great* deal - far more than trolling has ever bothered me. Someone trolls me, I get upset, and tomorrow I forget about it. Someone doxxes me, and I lose my job, and I will not be forgetting about it tomorrow.

      If we as a society decide that the extralegal punishment of being doxxed for doing nothing illegal is okay, then I for sure am going to stop saying anything that's even borderline controversial. I'll be more PC than a politician. This is like prior restraint, and it will result in less lively discussions because potentially controversial points of view will not be presented.

      Now, you may say "just watch what you say and you won't be in trouble". What if I'm an atheist in Small Town America, and someone doxxes me and I am ostracized by my community? It's easy to say "don't say anything bad", but it's much harder to agree on what defines "bad".

       

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        DCX2, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re: Trolling is a public activity

        I was thinking, "just watch what you say and you won't be in trouble" sounds a lot like "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide".

         

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:19pm

        Re: Re: Trolling is a public activity

        What if I'm an atheist in Small Town America, and someone doxxes me and I am ostracized by my community? It's easy to say "don't say anything bad", but it's much harder to agree on what defines "bad".

        You've hit upon the issue and the Internet continues to be an experimentation around the concept of community. It depends on which community sets the standards for itself and how those standards are enforced. Often communities can be insular enough that everyone knows the rules of behavior within that group, everyone follows them, and those who don't get shunned or kicked out.

        But sometimes communities leak into each other. So you may have one community that believes everyone can say whatever they want without consequence and you have another community that overlaps the first one and has members who are offended by some of the freewheeling communities. Unless you have closed communities where every member understands the rules and outsiders are kept out, you are going to have at least a few battles over which standards are going to take precedence.

        After looking at the mess that is national politics and looking out how relatively cohesive life here in Boulder is, I have come to appreciate the value of small communities where people can come together on a lot of issues and when there is conflict, people can come together face to face to work that out.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    Aside from redditors, when can we get someone on the case for uncovering the mystery of @DadBoner.

     

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    Trumpster (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    How do you really feel Mike?

    Wow Mike, do you think it was really necessary to say repeatedly that you thought it was a poor choice to block the gawker links? You must have said it over half a dozen times, we get it, you didn't like it.

     

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    Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 8:08pm

    free speech, privacy and law

    Free speech is *only* legally protected from government censorship. Individuals and corporations are legally allowed to censor speech in their own premises, forums, workplaces, homes, or anywhere else.

    But what constitutes Free Speech?

    The Crime

    The written description of what was posted online:
    "...surreptitiously shot photos of others, usually women, usually focused on sexually objectifying the subjects of the shot."

    Photographing private individuals without their consent?
    Then publishing the illicit photos on the internet?
    I'm sorry, how is this free speech?
    If you climb a tree and photograph your neighbor through their window, is that free speech too?

    The article goes on to explain that the photographs were "often very young women."
    How young?
    The comments here mention the existence of a Reddit forum called /r/jailbait ?

    And then there is the teacher posting photographs of students. When an authority figure abuses the power over other people, it is an unconscionable breach of trust, possibly liable for criminal charges, certainly and most deservedly, to job loss. This is not free speech.

    the criminals

    There have been emphatic arguments here about how important it is to protect the privacy of people who take such surrepetious photographs, and moderators who were aware of such content being published on the Internet without the subjects' knowledge or permission.

    You are concerned about the protection of the perpetrator's anonymity.

    Yet precious little thought has been given to the people whose anonymity has been stripped away through the publication of illicit photographs. What about the victim's anonymity?

    The contention has been made that publishing such photographs is "free speech." Poppycock.

    Photographs

    Professional photographers only publish photographs of subjects when they have signed release forms, because otherwise they can be held legally liable. Even models that have been paid to pose must sign releases; if they don't, the photographs are published at the photographer's peril.

    Because their image is part of the individual's private domain.

    Privacy

    Although public figures may be "fair game" because they have put themselves in the public eye, private individuals are accorded legal protection of personal privacy.

    The face, the likeness, the identifiability of individuals is protected. Any such invasion of the personal privacy of an individual must trump any arguments of free speech.

    You can think what you want. You can say what you want. You can troll the live ling day. But taking surreptitious photographs of people and publishing them without express permission is a no-no.

    If you post a photo of my daughter without her permission, or mine if she is a minor, you'll find yourself in a world of trouble. Because you will have invaded my daughter's privacy. You made this decision, you took these actions, and the logical consequence is that you answer for it.

    There *should* be laws to address this creepy crap on Reddit, But maybe there aren't. Or even if there are, the forces of law enforcement may not have a clue how to tackle a Reddit. Or maybe they *nudge*nudge*wink*wink simply not do a damn thing about it.

    If the law does not answer, the best thing to achieve social justice is to shine a light on injustice. If the law can't or won't deal with something this reprehensible, doxxing seems to be a perfectly acceptable, moral and ethical recourse.

    And as the article suggests, this was a case of media reporting, not "doxxing."

    logical consequences

    Personal privacy is a natural right. We all need personal privacy. Our own space.

    The creep perpetrators invaded that space. They chose to commit bad acts.

    People who are photographed secretly, and then had the photographs published, have chosen nothing.

    The acts of the perpetrators have victimized them. Whether or not the law has defined this specific behaviour as assault, that is exactly what it is: an invasion of a human being's personal space, and an assault on privacy.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 8:36pm

      Re: free speech, privacy and law

      Thank you.

       

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 3:33am

      Re: free speech, privacy and law

      In response I will repeat the comment I already made on your blog...

      “If the law does not answer homosexuality, the best way to achieve social justice is to shine a light on it. If the law can’t or won’t deal with something as reprehensible as sodomy, doxxing seems to be a perfectly acceptable, moral and ethical recourse.” Therefore Christians should out gays? Why is your philosophy inapplicable to Christians who are morally outraged about homosexuality?

      If you think that being outraged at someone’s behaviour is sufficient to make doxxing ‘ethical’ then doesn’t that make outing gay and lesbians ‘ethical’? (Nobody ever has a good answer for this.) You are not the only one in the world with a sense of outrage.

      If something illegal was done, then the criminal should be prosecuted. However, it is my understanding (and I could be wrong since I didn’t look at the pictures) that the reason Reddit’s subforums were ‘legal’ is that the pictures had all identifying info (i.e. faces) removed. It is legal to take public photography, as long as people aren’t clearly identifiable — because then you would have to deal with model rights. No identifiable photos = no model rights. To take this right of public photography away would be to destroy the art of photography in public, really. You can’t take a crowd shot of a city street and then get permission from thousands of people. That is why this rule developed you don’t need permission unless their faces are identifiable.

      I am not defending Reddit’s actions however; I am merely explaining why they qualify as free speech (and it is Reddit’s free speech to publish these pics that is at issue here not just ViolentAcrez). If I were a Reddit moderator, those pictures would never have been posted. But I am not a Reddit moderator and Reddit has freedom of speech so if they wish to publish it and it is legal, then of course, yes, it qualifies as freedom of speech. How could it not? Any speech that is legal is by definition also free. There is no difference between ‘legal speech’ and ‘free speech’ — they are the same exact thing.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

        If you think that being outraged at someone’s behaviour is sufficient to make doxxing ‘ethical’ then doesn’t that make outing gay and lesbians ‘ethical’? (Nobody ever has a good answer for this.) You are not the only one in the world with a sense of outrage.

        Here's how I would characterize the difference between what you are saying and what Laurel is saying. It's the degree to which you drag other people into it. What gays do at home, in their relationships, or even at a gay club presumably doesn't involve non-gays. (However, if a non-out gay person makes a pass at a homophobic person, chances are the non-out gay might get outed for doing so.)

        Laurel is saying that photos were being used without permission to demean people. Hence the outrage.

        There's a website posting photos of people shopping at Walmart. I haven't been to it, but I am aware of it. If the moderator of that site wants to be anonymous but if enough people are offended that someone goes to the trouble to find out and publicize the moderator, I would be okay with that. No laws broken, but if you are posting photos of people to laugh at them, I don't see any compelling reason to protect your identity. No laws broken by letting the world know who you are.

        If, however, as a society we start enforcing very strict privacy laws, starting with what corporations do or don't do with data collection, I am interested. Until that time, I am going to assume privacy is in the eye of the beholder and people are going to invade it or not depending on what they choose to do and think they can get away with.

         

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          Laroquod (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 8:49am

          Re: Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

          Your argument amounts to saying Christian outrage is unjustified whereas feminist outrage is justified. I suspect Christians would disagree with you on that. I also suspect that Christians would say that homosexual lifestyle affects society. I completely disagree with Christians on that, but that is what some of them say, isn't it?

          The rest of what you said is very true and I agree. I only make the distinction that even though it may be *deserved* and I might not lose any sleep over it, that does not therefore make it *ethical*. And the reason this distinction is so important to me is that I do not want society to devolve to the point where anybody who is outraged by something thinks they are totally in the clear to dox the person responsible, and they will be in the moral clear. They will not be in the moral clear, because I will be there, and others like me, saying, 'Hey buddy, maybe the dude deserved it, but that was still a shitty thing to do.'

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 9:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

            Your argument amounts to saying Christian outrage is unjustified whereas feminist outrage is justified.

            Where did you get that? I was using gays as an example because you have been doing so. If something is done in private and it is outed, that is invasion of privacy. If something is done in public (as posting photos of girls has been), then exposing the identity of the matter is a different degree.

            Let's drop the gay analogy because it doesn't work here. Moderators on websites do have a less degree of privacy in that capacity than private citizens in private behavior.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 9:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

              Typo. I meant to say, "If something is done in public (as posting photos of girls has been), then exposing the identity of the moderator is a different degree."

               

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        Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 8:52am

        Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

        [And so here is the response from my blog]

        The creative use of quotation marks fails to make the analogy. There is a difference between identifying someone with different beliefs and identifying a perpetrator. Behaviour that assaults another human being's privacy is not merely behaviour, it is assault.

        You seem to have a predisposition to rely on the law as the way to get it right, yet last I heard, there were innumerable laws against homosexuality, as well as legal ways to protect attacks on homosexuality on the law books around the world. "The Law" has been the instrument of suppressing homosexuality much more often than it has been its saviour.

        Governments like ours are scrambling to make laws that will make incursion into Canadian privacy the rule. Although you may wish online anonymity was protected anywhere, it is not. Even if protection of anonymity was in fact covered by law, as in most things, comission of a crime would allow law enforcement the ability to breach that anonymity via search warrants. Assault is always wrong, although the law does not always reflect this. Law allowed people to assault their spouse, or their children until recently. Law used to allow students to be assaulted by their teachers, slaves to be assaulted by their "masters" or employers to assault their employees, but although these assaults were allowed legally, they were not right.

        I did not look at the photographs either, but you are assuming the photographs were taken in public. Yet we know from the article that photographs taken in a classroom were included. This is not a public place. There are many places that we see as "public places" that in fact are not. Places like theatres, and malls, or concert halls. But even in these private-public places, private individuals are still afforded an expectation of privacy unless we waive it. Concert tickets routinely include fine print which states that the patron waives this right as part of the cost of admission to the venue.

        Private individuals have the right not to be photographed and such photographs published without their consent. Although I haven't seen these images either, it's a pretty good bet that none of them feature a cast of thousands. What is identifiable? Maybe you can't identify someone by their body parts, but there is every possibility they can. Amanda Todd certainly identified her own breasts when her assailant posted the photograph of her breasts on Facebook.

        Your argument is willing to sacrifice the privacy of victims to protect the privacy of perpetrators. That is not socially responsible, nor can it ever create social justice.

        You say you aren't "defending Reddit’s actions" but "explaining why they qualify as free speech" — but the problem is that under law, they don't qualify as free speech. Reddit is not "public" and so has no legal obligation to protect free speech under law. If the government stepped in to censor, *then* it would become a free speech issue.

        Even if what was done on Reddit could be legally considered protected free speech, the fact that it is assault would supercede any free speech protection in the name of the public good. Free speech is not what you think it is, it is what the law says it is. That's how law works.

         

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      Laroquod (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 3:36am

      Re: free speech, privacy and law

      P.S. Whatever answer you have to the free speech crowd, you don't need to explain it to me, or to Reddit, or even to the people commenting here. You need to explain it to 'RemusShepherd' the outed gay commenter at the bottom of this (muddled, churlish) Gawker article...

      http://gawker.com/5952563/why-the-violentacrez-story-isnt-about-free-speech?post=53612 794

       

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        Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 9:20am

        Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

        Characterizing an opinion you disagree with as "churlish" doesn't refute the argument. You can argue against it until you are blue in the face, but what you believe the law is/should be does not make it so.

        Because the "Remus Shepherd" comment is anonymous, it could have been made by anyone for any reason, so there is no way to assess the validity of the assertions made. On the face of it, there is a dischordancy about the comment as it eEquate outing a victim with outing a perpetrator. It is odd in that it seems to argue to sacrifice the privacy of victims to protect the privacy of perpetrators, which in fact enables victimization to continue in the secrecy.

        Whether this comment is real or a fabrication to illustrate a point, an anonymous story of unproven veracity does not outweigh the verified evidence of 15 year old Amanda Todd, whose victimization included this very type of assault, and which ultimately led to her suicide.

         

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    Bob Jonkman (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    Bad Actors

    It seems that just about everyone involved in this is a bad actor:

    * Those who posted the images of beaten women, teens, and other people who were expecting privacy
    * Reddit, for allowing it
    * Violentacrez, for encouraging and participating
    * Adrian Chen, for infringing on Violentacrez's expectation of privacy
    * Subredditors, for censoring posts about Gawker
    * Violentacrez's employer, for firing him without cause

    Of course, everything seems to be legal. But it all offends my sense of morality.

    It's been pointed out that morality is subjective.

    YMMV. Your Morality May Vary.

     

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