Friday, October 4, 2013

Claire Ebben - Assignment #2 Internet Crime

Amanda Todd was a young Canadian girl from Vancouver who was the unfortunate victim of cyber-bullying, and more specifically, being threatened over the Internet. As a young girl, Amanda surfed chat rooms and was coerced into flashing the camera on her computer. A short time later, a man contacted her via Facebook and threatened to send the topless photo to everyone she knew if she didn't send him more pictures. He also knew her address, where she went to school, and names of her friends and family. Regardless of her response, the picture was sent to many people, causing Amanda to develop severe anxiety and depression. After changing schools, the man contacted Amanda yet again, causing her to lose many friends and become bullied at school, once even being beaten by a group of classmates. A month after posting a YouTube video recounting her story, Amanda regrettably committed suicide, leaving many concerned about the effects of cyber-bullying and Internet threats. 

This crime was clearly a result of dissociative anonymity in the criminal who threatened Amanda. The disinhibition due to the sense of anonymity and the disconnect between actions online and in the real world contributed to the criminal's confidence in confronting and threatening Amanda. This man would not have necessarily been able to threaten her on the street in the same way that he did over the Internet. This is a result of the anonymity of the Internet, and hiding behind one's online identity. In this way, the man's threats to Amanda took place solely over the Internet, and were therefore in some way "disconnected" from the actions that the man could take in the real world. This crime was also a result of dissociative imagination in Amanda, as she entered the chat room to make friends online. Dissociative imagination is the perception that actions on the Internet are not "real" - and that any actions on the Internet do not have consequences in the "real world." In Amanda's case, it could be argued that posing for the photo felt safer because she could not see the people she was talking to, and was alone in her room at home. Therefore, her inhibitions were lowered, allowing herself to become the victim of a total creep. In the real world, it is highly unlikely that young Amanda would have taken a topless photo out in public, or even in a more comforting setting in the real world. Therefore, by having this disinhibition, Amanda unfortunately set herself up to become a victim. 

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