Racism and internet vigilantism

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So, saw this site today:

http://hellothereracists.tumblr.com/

It has screenshots of all the horribly racist things people posted on Twitter and Facebook in the wake of Obama's re-election, and then whoever is running the site gathered up enough publicly-available information on each person to list where they went to high school, what college they're at, where they work, and so forth. While I rather like the idea of people making idiotic racist comments getting their comeuppance and all, this is really kind of disturbing. I mean, it goes back to the idea that you should be very, very careful what you say on the internet, but this sort of thing, while legal, makes me really queasy.

Thoughts?

Publicizing personal details of people without their permission is not cool in any context.

Hypatian wrote:

Publicizing personal details of people without their permission is not cool in any context.

The thing is, the concept of "permission" is a little dicey here. My guess is these people probably don't have their Facebook privacy settings set properly, and all that info is just broadcast to the world.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

Thoughts?

Sounds like assholes vs. assholes to me.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Publicizing personal details of people without their permission is not cool in any context.

The thing is, the concept of "permission" is a little dicey here. My guess is these people probably don't have their Facebook privacy settings set properly, and all that info is just broadcast to the world.

Bingo. If I leave my address, birthday and social security number posted on a noticeboard in a public library, how annoyed am I allowed to be when someone posts said information on a noticeboard in a different public library?

Yeah, it's complicated. It's not even like Gawker's outing of that reddit troll, this is people putting racist sh*t up in the most public place possible. And yet, I don't feel totally okay with it.

Prederick wrote:

Yeah, it's complicated. It's not even like Gawker's outing of that reddit troll, this is people putting racist sh*t up in the most public place possible. And yet, I don't feel totally okay with it.

I feel the same as you. Schadenfreude and guilt, all in one tasty little sandwich.

This is one of the things that makes me yet again be terrified of being a parent of soon-to-be teenagers; once it's out there, it's out there forever and anybody can just grab it. I need to bookmark stuff like this to give my kids doom-and-gloom warning about internet so-called "privacy".

Jonman wrote:

Bingo. If I leave my address, birthday and social security number posted on a noticeboard in a public library, how annoyed am I allowed to be when someone posts said information on a noticeboard in a different public library?

For starters, not everyone knows what personal information about them is posted online. There's nothing stopping someone else who knows you in real life from posting things about you that you'd rather not be public. Not to mention things like Facebook botching up privacy permissions and making things public that were supposed to be private. Or someone posting some personal information when they are young and stupid and not realizing that even though they pulled it, it's still available in a cache somewhere.

Secondly, I think there's a difference between posting your own info and someone else posting it with a pretty implicit threat. "Here's an offensive thing someone said, and here's their home address and phone number" is pretty skeezy even if the address and phone number are freely available.

People deserve to be called out on racism, but that doesn't make harassing them at home okay.

You know what...I'm okay with this. If they spew their hate in a public forum, they shouldn't be surprised when someone kicks their teeth in...at least metaphorically. As long as all the information was public info (which it appears to be due to the inconsistency)...I'm fine with them being called out as the racist POS that they are. If they didn't realize it was public then this should educate them a bit.

Nevin73 wrote:

Yes, but they are not posting the address and phone, just general location.

Oh, I was under the impression that they had done that in some cases.

Posting where someone works is not really that different though...

Demyx wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Bingo. If I leave my address, birthday and social security number posted on a noticeboard in a public library, how annoyed am I allowed to be when someone posts said information on a noticeboard in a different public library?

For starters, not everyone knows what personal information about them is posted online. There's nothing stopping someone else who knows you in real life from posting things about you that you'd rather not be public. Not to mention things like Facebook botching up privacy permissions and making things public that were supposed to be private. Or someone posting some personal information when they are young and stupid and not realizing that even though they pulled it, it's still available in a cache somewhere.

Secondly, I think there's a difference between posting your own info and someone else posting it with a pretty implicit threat. "Here's an offensive thing someone said, and here's their home address and phone number" is pretty skeezy even if the address and phone number are freely available.

People deserve to be called out on racism, but that doesn't make harassing them at home okay.

Yes, but they are not posting the address and phone, just general location.

Edit: I take the above statement back...a few pages in I did see a pic of one guy's driver's license. I do think that is over the line a bit.

Nevin73 wrote:

Yes, but they are not posting the address and phone, just general location.

Edit: I take the above statement back...a few pages in I did see a pic of one guy's driver's license. I do think that is over the line a bit.

Holy Heck! Who is dumb enough to put a picture of their driver's license on Facebook!?

As much as I like the idea, I'm a bear about privacy, and this site in a nutshell is why. A lot of these entries are for under-age kids. I would be worried about it from that angle, too.

Scary, but... I don't like defending racists for anything other than their free speech rights. And as has been noted in many a thread, your right to free speech doesn't guarantee you speech that is consequence free. Are people taking this to an extreme? Yar. Should they maybe have expected that for something that was written in extreme ignorance? Per-maybe-so, I think.

I wouldn't condone violence, as I think that's just as stupid, but if you're going to be a crazy person, you shouldn't underestminate other crazy people.

I'm kind of hoping this ends up in the Secret Service inbox. There seems to be some investigating that needs to be done and it would be quite sobering to get a visit from a Secret Service agent.

Edit: I think what really bothers isn't the idiotic racism but the threats against the President. That people feel that they can post threats against a sitting president...that floors and galls me.

They posted these comments on Twitter using their real names. They post a ton of information about themselves on Facebook also using their real names. It's not like they needed a private detective to find the info. In a lot of these cases, I'm sure the FBI is glad somebody did their work for them.

Nevin73 wrote:

Edit: I think what really bothers isn't the idiotic racism but the threats against the President. That people feel that they can post threats against a sitting president...that floors and galls me.

Are threats protected speech under the Second Amendment?

Wikipedia on "United States free speech exceptions" wrote:

Threats of violence that are directed at a person or group of persons that has the intent of placing the target at risk of bodily harm or death are generally unprotected. However, there are several exceptions. For example, the Supreme Court has held that "threats may not be punished if a reasonable person would understand them as obvious hyperbole",

I'm assuming here of course that 99.999% of those threats qualify as hyperbolic.

Maybe, but I'd back their attempt to secede. And it's not even my country! They could have one of the Aleutian islands, or a disused oil platform.

Jonman wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

Edit: I think what really bothers isn't the idiotic racism but the threats against the President. That people feel that they can post threats against a sitting president...that floors and galls me.

Are threats protected speech under the Second Amendment?

Wikipedia on "United States free speech exceptions" wrote:

Threats of violence that are directed at a person or group of persons that has the intent of placing the target at risk of bodily harm or death are generally unprotected. However, there are several exceptions. For example, the Supreme Court has held that "threats may not be punished if a reasonable person would understand them as obvious hyperbole",

I'm assuming here of course that 99.999% of those threats qualify as hyperbolic.

And yet I believe that it is illegal to threaten the POTUS. Regardless of hyperbole.

Nevin73 wrote:

And yet I believe that it is illegal to threaten the POTUS. Regardless of hyperbole.

True that. Wikipedia to the rescue as usual...

That said, Dubya received ~ 3000 threats a year - how many folks were prosecuted accordingly with a felony?

Also of note:

above linked Wikipedia page wrote:

Of the individuals who come to the Secret Service's attention as creating a possible danger to one of their protectees, approximately 75 percent are mentally ill.

Oh no, things I did and said in a public forum are being used in a public forum!

The advent of easy, public communication through the Internet has really destroyed some people's understanding of "private". They think the things they post about themselves on forums, message boards, social media, and etc are somehow sacrosanct as if it were no different than a shelf in their bedroom. While I think this is in fact a dangerous thing (there are few forces on this planet as self-righteous and destructive as internet 'heroes'), I can't really say I think the people are doing anything all wrong or illegal.

When is it okay to post someone's private information with the clear implication that they deserve to be harassed at home and at work?

When they say something racist? How about sexist? What if they are bullying someone else online? What if they insult your religion? What if they express a political belief you don't like? What if they say the wrong thing on 4chan? Because that last one has happened with pretty nasty results.

Racism is completely wrong. But threats and harassment are also wrong.

It's pretty heartless to say that if you've posted this information online (or, I guess, if someone else posted it about you) that you deserve whatever's coming to you. It's not like the internet comes with a user manual or that everyone learned about the internet in school.

Demyx wrote:

It's pretty heartless to say that if you've posted this information online (or, I guess, if someone else posted it about you) that you deserve whatever's coming to you.

Is it?

If I stand on a busy downtown street corner yelling "hang the nigger in the White House", do I deserve the beatdown that I'm most likely to get?

Jonman wrote:

Is it?

If I stand on a busy downtown street corner yelling "hang the nigger in the White House", do I deserve the beatdown that I'm most likely to get?

I don't think people deserve to be beaten for things they say, no matter how strongly I disagree.

I think in that case both you and the person beating you are wrong.

(Unless you mean a verbal "beatdown" in which case yes, you would deserve that.)

Demyx wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Is it?

If I stand on a busy downtown street corner yelling "hang the nigger in the White House", do I deserve the beatdown that I'm most likely to get?

I don't think people deserve to be beaten for things they say, no matter how strongly I disagree.

I think in that case both you and the person beating you are wrong.

(Unless you mean a verbal "beatdown" in which case yes, you would deserve that.)

Fair enough. I agree that my hypothetical racist ass and the hypothetical dude punching me would be wrong.

Should I be surprised when I get punched though? Should I have suspected that the likely impact of my wrong action would be a wrong response? Wouldn't it be naive of me to expect that my act would be free of consequences?

Welcome to the last 2.5 million years of human evolution?

Anonymity is a powerful thing. Not quite as powerful as the sudden loss of it though!

If you're going to tweet that kind of hateful sh*t you deserve the blowback. I couldn't help but notice the vast majority of those guys look like rejects from a casting call for The Jersey Shore!

Jonman wrote:

Should I be surprised when I get punched though? Should I have suspected that the likely impact of my wrong action would be a wrong response? Wouldn't it be naive of me to expect that my act would be free of consequences?

No.

But I also sure don't like the implication that if you say something someone else doesn't like online, you deserve to get harassed at your work, home and school.

Sure, it seems fine to some people because these people featured on this blog are saying hateful, racist crap. If it were a blog full of people who are out gays with their workplaces, drivers' licenses, etc., would you still be okay with it?

Jonman wrote:

Honestly, if it was complied from data that's publicly accessible, then yes, yes I would. Don't want your information made public? Then don't make it public.

What if my internet-unsavvy mom or grandma is the one who posted my public info? What if a vengeful ex-boyfriend posted it? What if I was just 13 years old and no one taught me any better?

I guess I'm missing the link between folk having their publicly available information collated in one place, and them being harassed at home, work or school. Are there any reports of harassment as a result of this tumblr?

What's the purpose of posting these comments alongside things like drivers' licenses if it isn't an invitation for harassment?

There are plenty of tumblrs devoted to cataloging terrible things people say online without that information.

Demyx wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Should I be surprised when I get punched though? Should I have suspected that the likely impact of my wrong action would be a wrong response? Wouldn't it be naive of me to expect that my act would be free of consequences?

No.

But I also sure don't like the implication that if you say something someone else doesn't like online, you deserve to get harassed at your work, home and school.

Sure, it seems fine to some people because these people featured on this blog are saying hateful, racist crap. If it were a blog full of people who are out gays with their workplaces, drivers' licenses, etc., would you still be okay with it?

Honestly, if it was complied from data that's publicly accessible, then yes, yes I would. Don't want your information made public? Then don't make it public.

I guess I'm missing the link between folk having their publicly available information collated in one place, and them being harassed at home, work or school. Are there any reports of harassment as a result of this tumblr?

EDIT - and there's a notable difference between harassment, and someone changing their opinion of you based on your actions. If I found out that a colleague of mine was a grade-A racist, sure as sh*t I'd change my opinion of them and the way I interact with them. I may even call them out on their actions. That ain't harassment, that's having responsibility for your actions thrust upon you.

In both the case of the street-side beating and the Internet public shaming, the reactions are understandable—but also reprehensible. If you want to see someone punished for not acting like a mature responsible adult, the last thing you ought to be doing is acting immature and irresponsible yourself. And for all that "all of this information is out there", it's still immature and irresponsible to collect it all up in this sort of inflammatory way.

As has been pointed out already in this thread, if this kind of publication of information is okay to do about racists, it's also okay to do about gays, or trans people, or atheists, or what have you. Do you think that it's appropriate to more publicly "out" people in such situations, even though it makes them more vulnerable?

I don't make a great effort to prevent connections from my online identity to my professional one. If somebody wanted to, they could easily really complicate the hell out of my life by outing me as trans to my colleagues before I'm fully prepared to come out myself. Yes, I'm prepared for if such a thing were to happen, because I do know what the Internet is. But it would still be a monumentally sh*tty thing to have happen. And for all that I think that I'm in the right and the bigot is in the wrong, if it's not right to do it to me then it's not right to do it to them, either.

"Two wrongs don't make a right" may be trite, but that doesn't make it incorrect.

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