The internet never forgets

by Datechguy | March 18th, 2011

Readability

The internet never forgets

Cross posted at the Minor­ity Report:

The inter­net has had a lib­er­at­ing impact for human­ity. It allows the aver­age per­son access to more infor­ma­tion faster than kings and pres­i­dents of old. It is a plat­form for every­one from Char­lie Sheen to pro­test­ers in Egypt to express themselves.

The inter­net is also unfor­giv­ing. The teenage girl who decides to make a few hun­dred bucks pos­ing unclad in front of a cam­era may find that image googled dur­ing a job inter­view. The intem­per­ate e-​mail sent in anger will find itself for­warded to thou­sands. And if you choose to make threats, don’t think you will be able to hide behind an assumed name. A great exam­ple of this took place on St. Patrick’s day last.

Dur­ing the late unpleas­ant­ness in Wis­con­sin, blog­ger Ann Alt­house (who lives in the area) and her hus­band Lawrence Meade pro­vided invalu­able cov­er­age, inter­view­ing pro­test­ers and pro­vid­ing video that showed what was actu­ally hap­pen­ing. It allowed mil­lions to bypass the MSM who choose to white­wash the protests and their after­math.

Oppo­nents of Gov­er­nor Walker, unable to fil­ter Ann’s cov­er­age were unhappy. One in par­tic­u­lar, incensed at the videos, posted a threat­en­ing out­burst so pro­fane it was an effort to find a usable piece:

NOTICEYOUR CITY OF MADI­SON PRIV­I­LEGES HAVE BEEN REVOKED.

MADI­SON IS A #WIU­NION CITY AND WE ARE MADI­SON. Did you really think this could go on for­ever? That you could sit on the steps of our house, walk the streets of our city, lie about us to strangers, tell gun-​toting red­necks from out of state and the North­woods how depraved and deserv­ing of pun­ish­ment we are all while main­tain­ing plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­ity for any of the con­se­quences that your actions might cause?

Ann being Ann instantly linked to the anony­mous rant at 1:43 p.m. It drew 531 com­ments. It was linked by Instapun­dit at 4:53 p.m. At 6:39 p.m . Robert Stacy McCain went to work with more than ten updates and links to blog­gers who were able to trace the author of the threats , a fel­low named Jim Shankman, to the point where by 9 p.m. he had this to say on facebook:

Because of a right-​blogosphere cam­paign to silence me, I have been forced to com­mit Iden­tity Sui­cide. I have never sup­ported or advo­cated vio­lence for any pur­pose other than self-​defense against ter­ror attacks by the armed wing of the Amer­i­can Right….

Elapsed time from the ini­tial link from Alt­house to the expo­sure of this person’s iden­tity: Under 8 hours, a sin­gle shift at work.

For­get­ting the unre­al­ity of his self-​pitying response (take a sec­ond look at the rant he made and rec­on­cile it with the para­graph above) con­sider that even if he escapes pros­e­cu­tion for the threats he made, from this point on he will be pub­licly known for an attempt to silence and intim­i­date free speech. It’s already begun as Investors busi­ness daily has picked up the story.

The inter­net empow­ered Mr. Shankman’s abil­ity to speak, but it does not restrain him from speak­ing intem­per­ately if he choose to do so, nor does it pro­tect him from the con­se­quences of those words for­ever asso­ci­ated with him.

As Stacy McCain concluded :

You can blog any­thing you want, under any name you want, but if you think you can do attack-​blogging anony­mously, you’d bet­ter think twice.

This les­son is impor­tant to all. The inter­net is for­ever. It empow­ers both the wise and the fool­ish. Make sure that you are not among the fool­ish before you hit the post or the send button.

Update: Dan Riehl has an inter­view with the gen­tle­man in ques­tion and Ann Alt­house reacts with pity rather than anger. The “unem­ployed google” line above seems rather apt.

Cross posted at the Minority Report:

The internet has had a liberating impact for humanity. It allows the average person access to more information faster than kings and presidents of old. It is a platform for everyone from Charlie Sheen to protesters in Egypt to express themselves.

The internet is also unforgiving. The teenage girl who decides to make a few hundred bucks posing unclad in front of a camera may find that image googled during a job interview. The intemperate e-mail sent in anger will find itself forwarded to thousands. And if you choose to make threats, don’t think you will be able to hide behind an assumed name. A great example of this took place on St. Patrick’s day last.

During the late unpleasantness in Wisconsin, blogger Ann Althouse (who lives in the area) and her husband Lawrence Meade provided invaluable coverage, interviewing protesters and providing video that showed what was actually happening. It allowed millions to bypass the MSM who choose to whitewash the protests and their aftermath.

Opponents of Governor Walker, unable to filter Ann’s coverage were unhappy. One in particular, incensed at the videos, posted a threatening outburst so profane it was an effort to find a usable piece:

NOTICE – YOUR CITY OF MADISON PRIVILEGES HAVE BEEN REVOKED.

MADISON IS A #WIUNION CITY AND WE ARE MADISON. Did you really think this could go on forever? That you could sit on the steps of our house, walk the streets of our city, lie about us to strangers, tell gun-toting rednecks from out of state and the Northwoods how depraved and deserving of punishment we are all while maintaining plausible deniability for any of the consequences that your actions might cause?

Ann being Ann instantly linked to the anonymous rant at 1:43 p.m. It drew 531 comments. It was linked by Instapundit at 4:53 p.m. At 6:39 p.m . Robert Stacy McCain went to work with more than ten updates and links to bloggers who were able to trace the author of the threats , a fellow named Jim Shankman, to the point where by 9 p.m. he had this to say on facebook:

Because of a right-blogosphere campaign to silence me, I have been forced to commit Identity Suicide. I have never supported or advocated violence for any purpose other than self-defense against terror attacks by the armed wing of the American Right….

Elapsed time from the initial link from Althouse to the exposure of this person’s identity: Under 8 hours, a single shift at work.

Forgetting the unreality of his self-pitying response (take a second look at the rant he made and reconcile it with the paragraph above) consider that even if he escapes prosecution for the threats he made, from this point on he will be publicly known for an attempt to silence and intimidate free speech. It’s already begun as Investors business daily has picked up the story.

The internet empowered Mr. Shankman’s ability to speak, but it does not restrain him from speaking intemperately if he choose to do so, nor does it protect him from the consequences of those words forever associated with him.

As Stacy McCain concluded :

You can blog anything you want, under any name you want, but if you think you can do attack-blogging anonymously, you’d better think twice.

This lesson is important to all. The internet is forever. It empowers both the wise and the foolish. Make sure that you are not among the foolish before you hit the post or the send button.

Update: Dan Riehl has an interview with the gentleman in question and Ann Althouse reacts with pity rather than anger. The “unemployed google” line above seems rather apt.

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