Many have the misconception that their activities in the internet can not be traced back to them so they engage in activities that they would never do if their identities were known. As I’ve said before, the internet is not anonymous despite everything you see on your local news, on your favorite TV show or in the latest blockbuster. While the way the internet is designed provides technical information that can be used to determine someone’s identity, human nature (especially how it relates to social networking sites) also provides clues that can be used to find a person.
Two weeks ago Asia McGowan was gunned down by a classmate that happened to be obsessed with her. This classmate spoke of killing her and committing suicide in his videos on YouTube. This was reported to Detroit police, however, they were unable to see the video and therefore did not act to prevent her death. The fact of the matter is that most local police departments are ill-equipped to deal with any kind of crime involving the internet. That is where we as internet citizens come in.
I found out about a story from Jessie X where a teenager recorded himself abusing a cat and posted the video on YouTube. He was swiftly brought to justice because of the actions of internet citizens like you and me. Here’s an account of what happened by Alan Ferguson:
I monitored the online discussion of the Anonymous with a strange sense of excitement about the endeavor. It was interesting to see them:
- Track down the YouTube account’s zip code
- Facebook and MySpace search for the zipcode and username
- Confirm they had found his MySpace page (via an image showing the same carpet and background as found in the video)
- Confirm the boy’s Facebook page
- Confirm that his name is Kenny Glenn
- Post the boy’s name, age, location, school everywhere
- Post the boy’s mothers’ name, cell #, work address and work phone
- Post the number to the local news station and the sheriff’s office
- Flood the news station and local law enforcement with phone calls and emails explaining the situation
The same day the teenager was arrested complete with news coverage of the arrest. If all of that can be done to save a cat, shouldn’t we do the same to save the life of a human being?
Photo credit: Pinot & Dita