Internet Vigilantism

Back in 2009, there were 2 videos posted to YouTube of a fourteen year old and his friend who were torturing a cat. Thankfully to the internet users, the abuser, “Timmy” was caught and the cat was removed from his home. The question of the matter is- did the online users go too far? Or was their detective work effective?

According to the irishtimes, “Outraged Net users found a link to an account on another site with a Lawton, Oklahoma zip code. Guessing that his YouTube account, glennspam1, might be connected to his surname, the online vigilantes tracked down a Facebook account of the teenager. Photos on Facebook checked out with the blurred background in the video; a little more sleuthwork uncovered Kenny Glenn’s home address, parents’ workplaces, and the contact numbers for the local sheriff, Glenn’s school, and house.”

And just like that, internet vigilantism occurred on an anonymous website called 4chan. I believe it was 100% right for internet users to snoop through information to find the YouTube cat abuser. Abusing is against the law, and posting it online is just plain stupid. As per the irishtimes, the video was only meant to be sent out to the creator’s friends. If the internet did now allow this to go viral, the cops would not have gotten involved.

As far as 4chan, this anon site can be both have positive and negative effects. It can organize protests, brainstorm new ideas or even go so far to organize a lynchmob. This is where online vigilantism gets tricky. We want the cyber bullies to be punchished, BUT it should be done in a justifiable way. For example, 4chan posters were posting his home address, phone number, parents numbers and work offices which is totally unnecessary and dangerous to his friends and family.

I feel that the website should be used to find the criminals, but not share their families information because this is where people can conduct planned revenges on both the cat abuser and his innocent family / friends. An example of this I found from  an anonymous website states, “I have an observation to make: few have so far noticed that the way to PERMANENTLY punish him would be by punishing his daddy’s Oil company.” The detective work and information found should be given to the authorities who then should take matters into their own hands.

I feel that moving forward, the internet should just increase their control over content like this. With that being said, cruelty, bullying or even anonymous posts should be censored and or removed.


One thought on “Internet Vigilantism

  1. It seems that issues like animal cruelty and child abuse agreed to be abhorrent by the public and general online community. I feel like when these occurrences are exposed on social media, people online can be pretty unforgiving and quick to hold a type of “kangaroo court” on social media sites and forums that ultimately condemn the accused, followed by some sort of punishment for their wrongdoings. Traditional law enforcement and authorities very often fail at bringing some of these violators of our social codes of conduct and I think that online vigilantism fills that gap.


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