21st Century Lynchmobs: Bringing Accountability to Foolish Actions Posted on the Internet
June 10th, 2009

Alex Lightman and Rachel Coleman of h+ Magazine crafted a splendid article about how “Netizen Detectives” are helping bring accountability to foolish actions that people post on the internet. “There is a new movement being fueled by emotions ranging from revulsion to rage pulsing through the veins of the internet. It’s a 21st century update to the old school lynch mobs. Thousands have joined in and believe it’s an efficient way to make criminals answer to the netizens.”

The article highlights the following example of the the “Kitten Killer of Hangzhou” to illustrate the emergence of 21st Century Lynch Mobs. Apparently, in February of 2006 a woman posted a video on YouTube of her purportedly snuffing the life out of a kitten with her stiletto shoes. Not too long after the video was uploaded the following happened:

Photo: ChinaDaily

“Enraged masses [of Chinese Netizens] mobilized online to find [the Kitten Killer of Hangzhou…] Less than a week later, volunteer cyber sleuths were able to discover her location by analyzing the background of the video. Then they matched the shoes worn in the video to an online purchase. With this information they uncovered her identity and address. These details were posted online and she was attacked with thousands of phone calls and threats. She was mercilessly shamed, lost her job, and was forced to post a video apology online where she acknowledged her actions and asked for forgiveness.”*

[Source: * h+ Magazine Search (and Destroy) Engines.]

Acknowledgements: Story tip from Jon Cog and Disnfo.com

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