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Jun 13, 2013

With [him] as president, "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes." [He] "writes aghast the truths of God's words; who makes not even a profession of Christianity; who is without Sabbaths; without the sanctuary, and without so much as a decent external respect for the faith and worship of Christians."

Except for the flowery language, this looks like normal blogging doesn’t it?  It is telling us that with this person as president, the world will fall into amoral distress.  Who is the person the apparent blogger is writing about?  Thomas Jefferson.

Blogging on the Internet with attacking statements about people in response to articles is not such a new thing after all.  People seem to have a need to let others know what they don’t like, more than they have a need to share useful information.  Of course, in Jefferson’s time, the name of the writer of the attack was identified in the paper.  Most modern-day bloggers do not have that restriction.

Today, bloggers attack with a feeling that they are anonymous.  The release from any need to be polite that people feel when blogging under an assumed persona is pretty impressive.  They feel that they can say things in anonymous blogs that I am sure they would not have the courage to say to the person’s face.  There is also a fair amount of innuendo, gossip and speculation.  

Are bloggers they really anonymous?

In Jefferson’s time, if someone wrote an attack that was untrue, there was a possibility that they could be sued for libel. Recently, there have been several interesting cases where an anonymous blogger has been located and sued for, among other things, defamation of character. When you blog on-line, the address of your computer is recorded.  It might not lead directly to you, but it will lead to your general area. It is up to a forensic researcher to discover you. This occurred in the case of New Orleans businessman Fred Heebe, who was being investigated by the U.S. Attorney General’s office.  Two bloggers discussing the case on the Times-Picayune website were particularly prolific and vile. The bloggers attacked Heebe, his defense attorneys and a judge. James Fitzgerald, a pioneer in the field of forensic linguistics, was hired to determine who was at the source of the blogs. He identified two Assistant U.S. attorneys, who were involved in the case, as the bloggers.  Both were charged with defamation of character and one lost their job while the other was demoted and later resigned. 

A new twist:  sock puppets

Since nearly anyone can blog about an online article and not identify themselves, it is also true that almost anyone can blog the same article under several different names.  When one person creates several different personas in the blogging community, the personas are called sock puppets, presumably because it is like having a sock puppet on each hand and having them talk to one another.

Ralph Golb is preparing to serve a six-month prison term for creating such personas. He created more than 80 blogging personas and used them to wage a battle about scholastic research. He went on to create e-mail personas that he used to augment his battle. One of his targeted victims, Robert Cargill, used a computer program to identify Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and found that the e-mails and 82 of the blogs came from the same few computers. Finally the FBI was called in. Ralph Golb was charged with, among other things, aggravated harassment, criminal impersonation, forgery and unauthorized use of the New York University library system.

Writing and saying rude things about others has been going on forever.  How long bloggers will remain anonymous we have yet to find out.

References:  Miller Center, University of Virginia, “Negative campaigning against Thomas Jefferson.”  The New York Times, February 17, 2013 “Online Battle Over Sacred Scroll, Real-World Consequences.”  The New Yorker On-line December 18, 2012, “Master of the Sock Puppets."

 

Comments

The Big Dog's back

So basically right wingnuts have been around a long time.

Contango

Re: "So basically, (snip)"

“Another insightful comment by bonehead.” - the Big Dog’s back, 6/5/13 :-7

Fromthe419

As have bleeding heart self loathing liberals :)

Contango

Re: "Of course, in Jefferson’s time, the name of the writer of the attack was identified in the paper."

Obviously NOT a student of History:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lis...

Nemesis

Can you say Publius? or Poor Richard?
If you ever read Ruth's now defunct newspaper, you'd be familiar with such non-rigorous thinking on her part.

The best was her article on fracking that misstated basic high school physics.

4shizzle

If there was a law against idiocy, Contango would be on death row.

Contango

Re: "If there (snip)"

“Your silly immature responses are just reinforcing the premise that you are drunk.” – 4shizzle, 6/4/13 :-7

kURTje

Shizzle 1 winnie zip.

Tourist

To be more precise, I think that this column is about online "commenters" and not essentially about "bloggers." (i.e., someone commenting on a newspaper site, or on a blog, is not a "blogger," they are merely a commenter.)

Nemesis

Not Ruth's first failure to grasp the meaning of something.

Sandusksquach

Sigh... everywhere Ruth writes "blogger" she should write "commentator". That is the correct way to describe one who responds to an article online. Author sometimes = blogger. Responders always = commentators. This concept seems to be beyond many of the commentators (people who respond to posts or articles [usually] anonymously) on the SR's website. Now the misuse of the term has spread to a blogger (meaning the author of this blog post).

Misrepresentations to scare commentators: In the Golb case, all the crimes he was convicted of involved creating and using fake email address to pretend to be someone else, not making comments on articles as someone else. A fine point, but an important distinction, i.e. fraud vs. parody. In the Heebe case, people were sued for defamation not "charged".

Anonimity allows people to say meaner things than they would otherwise, but that's the nature of the free speach marketplace. The SR could get rid of comments or a simple solution to this: people must log in through their FB accounts, other websites do it why not the SR?

Let's not forget the Founding Fathers wrote under pseudonyms.

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

Thanks Sandusksquach. I've been thinking all day about the original anonymous blogger, his character and purpose.

Mrs. Silence Dogood 
Boston, 1722

"At the time of my Birth, my Parents were on Ship-board in their Way from London to N. England. My Entrance into this troublesome World was attended with the Death of my Father, a Misfortune, which tho' I was not then capable of knowing, I shall never be able to forget; for as he, poor Man, stood upon the Deck rejoycing at my Birth, a merciless Wave entred the Ship, and in one Moment carry'd him beyond Reprieve. Thus was the first Day which I saw, the last that was seen by my Father; and thus was my disconsolate Mother at once made both a Parent and a Widow."

Licorice Schtick

Umm... I shouldn't be necessary to point it out the irony here but ...

It's the inaugural entry for a new "blog," and it opens with either misunderstanding or misuse of the word "blog." Or both.

The fact that Golb's name spelled backwords is "blog" would be deliciously ironic, except that, well, HE WASN'T A BLOGGER.

Golb didn't face charges for "creating such personas" as stated. It was for using them to impersonate a real someone else and then deliberately cause them harm, specifically through fraud, impersonation and harassment.

You know why some people hate anonymity? It's the not knowing who to stay mad at for the rest of their lives.

There's a lot more honesty in meanness than in condescension, and no more harm. Anonymity means free expression without fear of retribution. Why do you think Facebook is so full of sap?

Blues

Like I can't make a fake FaceBook name and page? What planet do you live on? I've contacted the SR with my email address and real name on several occasions with no response. So tell me what good comes from supplying such?

And before you tell me to produce results or call you Matt, bite me. The rudeness of no response is as easily placed in/on your lap.

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

I'm not sure what you're suggesting about providing your email address and real name. You should be able to register with that information without assistance. But please call me at 419-609-5866 if you need some assistance.

Blues

Matt, I have emailed you and some of your staff. My email holds my real name. I am an IT and don't need your assistance on how to use email. The fact remains that I did not get ANY response. None, zero, zip, nada.

As I said, I will not call you. I don't have the time that it takes you to formulate a thought and then respond.

PS. I enjoy the SR as it is easily the best local paper in the area. This is not a cut on the paper in general. I get the hard copy delivered to my door daily afterall.

Factitious

I have tried really hard to be a paying SR customer but my imperfect efforts were subverted. Not picking on the SR here - it's typical of smaller enterprises. I'll eventually go back anyway.

The leadership and training needed to overcome the bad in human behavior and built a winning corporate culture is expensive, and resistance is strong, because from top to bottom, no one likes to think they need improvement.

Sandusksquach

Well you can't seem to maintain a functioning SR login so maybe you can't create a fake FB account. Ha!

I live on planet Faux Real.

Maggdi

Thank you Dear
The internet is a scary place... oooh! Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
We've all been warned....
Don't pay any attention to ANYONE who blogs anonymously.
Can you also tell us who is worth our while?...
Let me guess...

Kimo

Re: "people must log in through their FB accounts, other websites do it why not the SR?"

I agree.

It makes it easier to spot a phony. There are phony FB accounts set up for the purpose of posting comments, but they stick out like a sore thumb.

Kimo

On the flip side of the coin:

I posted a comment and about a year later I did a search for that comment. The search came up with the exact comment but instead of my screen name it came back with my real name. It was one of those..... "Holy Spit" moments...... LOL
The software was able to tie the screen name to a real person but not secure enough to keep that info private. The IT people would blame that on a "computer glitch", but it amounts to garbage in, garbage out.

Truth or Fiction

And the point is???? Let us be realistic. The paper uses these threads as an electronic media alternative to the purchase of papers. The printed word has been in a depression for nearly two decades. Point in case is the closing of major city newspapers and the most recent reduction in publication of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Register looks to these threads as a means to supplement if not increase market share in this area. To "expose" individual commentators would effectively reduce participation and result in decreased interest and activity. There is no "higher plain." You must accept the bad with the good and censor accordingly.

Nemesis

Most people who have a problem with anonymous commenting just want identities of those with whom they disagree in order to formulate ad hominem attacks.

If you address content, rather than identity, there's no need to know to whom you're responding.

Centauri

http://aclunv.org/category/issue...
"ACLU of Nevada's Case Protecting Anonymous Online Speech"

"In response to the ACLU of Nevada’s challenge to the subpoenas, the government made numerous “secret” filings that are under seal and ex parte which the government claimed only the judge could see. No one else - not the public, the ACLU of Nevada, nor the clients in this case - could see or review them. This violates the rules governing legal actions, and established law."

Centauri

http://dailycaller.com/2013/02/2...
"Illinois state senator pushes anti-anonymity bill"

"The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a “web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.”

thinkagain

Once upon a time, Elyria’s Chronicle Telegram website was a hotbed of intelligent political and social debate. Anonymous pseudonyms allowed commenters to express thoughts and feelings that otherwise would have been repressed.

The CT’s inability to contain one persistent troll predicated their misguided decision to convert to a Facebook type format.

No longer the mecca for savvy discourse, nowadays it is replete with inane comments and disparaging personal attacks from countless Facebook trolls.

P.S. In their favor, unlike the SR, they have no enforced policy of religious intolerance and viewpoint discrimination.

Darwin's choice

Big Dog posting in other states?
http://www.texasconservativenews...

Contango

Pseudonyms have been used throughout recorded History in order to protect the identities of those who's critique of the wealthy and powerful could subject them to death and/or dismemberment.

Although not technically "bloggers," the pseudonyms of Voltaire, Mark Twain and Lemuel Gulliver (Jonathan Swift), come to mind.

And let us also recall the 'greatest' of Roman philosophers:

Anonymous (pronounced: A-non-ee-moose).

milemarkerzero

Looks like someone is going to make a run for a political office.

Kimo

Re: "If you address content, rather than identity, there's no need to know to whom you're responding."

Too much of the content is a lie that is posted over and over in the hope that if it’s posted enough times people will accept it as fact. After reading those posts one begins to wonder; who in the hell is this person?

Then you have the "shills".

BTW in "real life" I'm a French model........ Bonjour.

And that's a fact.... :-)

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