Policing the Dark Side of the Internet

This week’s readings were mighty dark but definitely illuminated (ha!) some of the virtual paths I’d left less traveled. I found the article about the ethics of doxxing to be an especially interesting piece to chew over. I’ve always faced an inner ethical dilemma over the culture of shaming (cue: the weird case of the Justine Sacco story).The way the collective Internet jumps so quickly from perceived offense to destroying said offender’s life is fascinating in its ferocity. I believe Oluo is right on the money when she explains that in social justice, the “ends don’t justify the means… the means are everything.” How can one effectively claim to be one of the “good guys” without acting like one?

Wherein, then, does the solution lie? How can we fight back against and protect the vulnerable from the growing threat of trolls and other even more insidious entities? In the self-policing policies of Reddit and the r/cringe subreddit? In censorship of certain platforms? These all seem either too ineffective or too extreme.

The solution Oluo calls for, “legal, responsible avenues for holding online abusers accountable” provided by the criminal justice system, does not seem probable or possible. The difficulty of enforcing cyberlaw, the globally of the Internet and the logistics of defining bullying or harassment across such a diverse array of platforms and content seems to inhibit the possibility. I feel, however, that we must seek to find a way to make it work. We as users cannot resort to vigilante justice at will, so we must create a system of organized policing. Perhaps a detailed system of rules across different types of sites, security prerequisites for websites that wish to advertise, or international agreements about the standards of Internet use are possible steps in the right direction.