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We all love the internet, but there are times it seems many people don’t quite understand the public access aspect of it. It’s not surprising, considering there’s not really anything to compare it to. How do you make sense of the fact that when you’re sitting at home alone recording a video blog which you upload later, billions of people from all different cultures, races, religions and walks of life will have access to it. Combine that with the fact that the information you thought was private, such as your phone number, address, place of work, is actually pretty accessible.

It was pretty apparent none of this was taken into consideration when Alexandra Wallace posted a video of a rant she made about how unpleased she was with the “hordes of Asians” talking on their cell phones in the libraries. Did she not consider how many Asian Youtube users there are out there? Or how many Youtube users are vehemently against racist antics? Apparently not. If so she wouldn’t have had to withdraw from UCLA as a result of internet vigilante harassment. Not to mention, the school board at UCLA had to meet to discuss whether disciplinary action against Ms. Wallace was necessary for the hate video.

This isn’t the first time internet vigilante have taken action against hateful, abusive, or just down right mean internet users and until people realize that the internet is public to all, it most certainly won’t be the last. While we don’t condone internet vigilantism, we do encourage internet users to learn from the mistakes of some of these posters.

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This story serves as a warning to both parents and foul-mouthed eleven-year-olds. Ever had an eleven year old threaten to “pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushy” via a video blog? If not, now you have. After posting numerous videos calling viewers “hater bitches” and explaining why these so called “hater bitches” are all jealous of this extremely vocal eleven-year-old, internet users took action. Slaughter’s personal information was found and posted all over the web thus allowing a wave of prank calls, death threats and causing Jessi’s father’s video exclamation of “You dun’ goofed” to become one of the most quoted lines in 2010 since “I pity the fool!” Did the kid deserve it? As an eleven-year-old, probably not. But where the parents were when Jessi Slaughter was essentially declaring virtual (soon to be physical) war on every internet user in the world is anyone’s guess.

The lesson: monitor your kids when they’re on the internet! Also, monitor what your kids watch. God knows she didn’t pick up the “brain slushy” metaphor from Sesame Street.

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Pet abuse is just plain wrong. No two ways about it. Which is why this video of a fourteen year old not only torturing a cat but filming and posting the video to the internet both shocks and astounds us. Luckily for the cat, web surfers around the world, including members of the notorious website forum “4chan” took to their keyboards, finding private information on the fourteen year old and his brother – who was also involved – and dedicating a whole website to the kids, posting names, addresses, phone numbers, even their father’s business information. One thing led to another and soon the local law enforcement was in the midst of charging the two with animal abuse. 

The lesson: If there’s anything stupider than abusing animals, it’s posting a video of that to the internet.

 

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Maybe it’s hard to lump 26-year-old Paul Chambers in with pet abusers, but the lesson he learned is one worth remembering. After hearing that his flight would be cancelled at Robin Hood airport due to snowfall, Chambers tweeted, “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high.” Really, Paul? Really? And you didn’t think that would come back to bite you in the ass? Paul was arrested soon after his tweet by UK law enforcement, held under anti-terror laws, and locked up for seven hours. He is now unable to ever enter Robin Hood airport again.

The lesson: Not everybody can detect your true intentions from a tweet and once again, what you say on the internet is public, open to all, including police officers.

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Pop quiz, you’ve recently stolen something from someone. Do you a) do your best to hide the item from the other person b) do your best to hide your identity from the other person or c) post pictures of yourself with the item to the internet? If you picked A or B, you’re smarter than 16-year-old Sasha Gomez. Sasha, after finding a T-Mobile Sidekick phone in the back of a cab, kept the phone and began using it as her own. When the owner bought a new phone and logged into her account, she found pictures of Gomez as well as her AOL screen name. When asked to return the phone Gomez refused. You can only guess what happened next. As the story got picked up by websites like Digg and Gizmodo, users took action sending email after email, eventually posting Gomez’s personal information enabling people to drive by her house and shout accusations. Gomez finally turned herself in, returned the phone and was arrested.

The lesson: It’s wrong to steal but it’s just stupid to publish your stolen goods to the internet

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In 2008 an earthquake hit the city of Siuchan in China, prompting most to express horror, sympathy and others to begin donating or volunteering to help clear the rubble and aid the survivors. Zhang Ya, a Chinese teenager, on the other hand, took an entirely different approach, complaining that the earthquake footage was taking up all her favorite channels on T.V. and that the web pages covering the disaster were boring because they now lacked color. Then there were the complaints of survivors making too much noise, yelling and screaming for their lives and being party poopers by making unfavourable marriage conditions. Soon after the video post, it went viral, being posted and re-posted throughout all four corners of the internet. As is the pattern with these things, her information was posted, to such a detail that they even put down her blood type. It’s still unclear whether she was eventually arrested for her hate video or to protect her from the millions who wanted to do her harm.

The lesson: Just because there’s no one sitting across from you to slap you for insulting them, doesn’t mean there aren’t millions watching, preparing to take action.