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Anonymous violence through the use of the Internet and social networks

by Tamir Ashman   (published on the articles website on 16 June 2013)


For over ten years I have been publishing writing materials on the Internet dealing with interpersonal relationships  and aggressive behavior.  The motivation for writing this article arose directly from a personal experience of a violent attack on an anonymous blogger which I will describe later in the article .    This experience taught me a lot about the feelings of the victim of anonymous violence, about the helplessness, helplessness and lack of legislation of the law enforcement agencies in the State of Israel and around the world.

In this article, I try to bring attention and awareness to the phenomenon of anonymous violence, which the more I delved into it, the more I discovered how wide-ranging the phenomenon is.  I hope this article will help in the fight against this type of violence.

In all my attempts so far to write about "aggressive behavior", I mainly described the experiences of others - mainly my patients. Yes, I revealed relatively digested and resolved memories, and above all - everything was under my control. 36bad5cf58d_ _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


For over ten years I have been running an   Internet site that supports and expands my field of practice, and for years I have been publishing articles on the 'Mamer' site. Doing this gives me a lot of meaning, I received many responses from readers from all over the country, and I helped to mediate between people in order to receive supportive treatment in the area closest to their place of residence. to them Throughout all the years, I never imagined that it was this act that would lead a strange and anonymous man to try to harm my name and my professional reputation.


Today, the Google search is the initial 'introduction card' we have in new meetings with people, it is accepted today before a job interview  or before a blind meeting, that both parties receive initial information through Google search and social networks, _cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_And a new situation is created where before the actual meeting, the parties arrive with a first impression, this first impression has great significance in decision-making processes.

Since I started to publish the case through a blog that I started, I am flooded with responses from many people who have experienced this kind of violence. And I realized that this is such a broad social phenomenon that requires us as a society to think of ways to deal with it. And these days this issue has come to the fore through the publication of a difficult story about a woman's mental breakdown and hospitalization after someone posted pornographic materials about her on social networks.  

In this article, I expand on the great power that anonymous threats have and the systemic helplessness and broken structure of the Internet world in dealing with this problem.


Description of the experience of the anonymous attack towards

Last November,   I decided to Google my name out of a wish to give myself validation for my social work in recent years. From a private wish to elation - my eyes darkened. Someone posted hate lists on my name, and uploaded a lecture I give on You tube  with violent words like 'Satan incarnate', comparing him to Nazis and other harsh words.         5cf58d_   _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_       _cc781905-5c de-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

At first it was important for me to know who is the man who wants to hurt me,   who sees me as an enemy dangerous to his existence. So I went in and delved into the anonymous man's blog, and I went into additional   entries he wrote. I discovered that from the blogger's point of view I actually belong to a wide group of people that the blogger chose to attack. I felt that the consolation of many does work. The experience of an attempted personal attack changed to the experience of a group attack - an attack on an ideological background. And I am just a symbol or a flag that the man wants to burn.

It is not pleasant to be a flag. It is very unpleasant to go through the process of "objectification".

As the days passed, the impact of the blog was somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand, I was hurt -  Many people after lectures and meetings Google me, as do potential patients. The feeling that these are the words that those people will meet does not make me and them comfortable. Until the arrival of the blogger, I had a relatively well-kept online 'show window'  , and suddenly one day the reality changed. A stranger 'defecated' inside my Google page, and it's really not a pleasant experience, nor a fragrant one. But on the other hand, in a certain way, I received a kind of validation for my social work. It seems to be the most similar to that moment when a brash politician or a great country figure is made fun of -  you are mocked, which means you exist.

But in my case, and unfortunately that of many others, the writer is not a comedian and his intention is not to be funny. It is clear to me that behind all the man's violent writing, there is a complex and painful story. I assume that the same man felt persecuted by those patriarchal laws and norms, which created unfair arrangements for him in his meetings with his children. There is a great chance that the same man who "doesn't count me", also feels   that he is not seen, and it is possible that he felt very disadvantaged in his struggle against the welfare and justice authorities in Israel. But that's just my projection on him, it's also a kind of objectification that the man's anonymity allows me.  

In the first two weeks more  I tried to take legal action against the anonymous man's hate letter. And I turned to the only address I had - the management of the site  'Wordpress', which unknowingly hosts these hateful words. This site is considered the largest blogging site in the world, it offers a very simple and efficient interface, but its social power lies in its high position in the Internet search engines, which gives power of influence to real characters and power of corruption to anonymous characters, who intend to hurt and avenge the personal injustice they feel has been done to them, via _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_Performing virtual attacks against real people. 

In my naivety, I thought that the website management would remove the defamatory materials, as soon as I informed them about it.  But to my surprise they wrote to me, because they cannot download materials without an express court ruling. I asked them, how can I file a court order if I don't have the details of the man writing the blog, I still haven't received a response to this question. And who has the time and energy to start a legal process? I felt like I was being attacked twice, also by the anonymous man but now I am being attacked with systemic helplessness.

This is a situation of structural and paradoxical helplessness that has put me and many others in a position of   inability to move in the face of unidentified threats that cannot be extradited and treated. I also consulted with lawyers, I was surprised by the systemic helplessness that exists today in dealing with anonymous violence over the Internet. Since that publication, the blogger continues to write new lines about me and others. In many ways the passivity I've been acting up to now doesn't serve me, and it doesn't seem to serve him either. I realized that I was making a pact of silence with that stranger who seeks to promote his affairs through personal injury by objectifying people he does not know. I have no respect for this way.

From this place, seeking to be freed from helplessness, I decided to open a blog that might contribute to raising awareness of the field of violence through the Internet, and might also provide additional lines on my Google page that would push aside the words of the violent blogger a little.

On the phenomenon of anonymous violence on the Internet

When I started sharing the experiences of internet attacks with people, it became clear to me that my personal case is just a drop in the endless internet ocean.   Many social workers   told about anonymous letters and the threats and terrorism they are exposed to. Teachers told how students upload videos about them on YouTube without even knowing that they were being recorded, I heard from teenagers about a phenomenon of uploading mocking photos and not complimenting a boy or girl from the class without him knowing Who is the attacker, a woman said that she suspects that her ex-husband planted a virus on her that erased her computer memory, and this is just from the last two weeks there are many and varied stories.

The Internet did not create anything new, it simply made everything in human nature accessible, both on its beautiful and less beautiful sides.

Today, social networks are used as a relatively effective tool for alleviating the sense of existential loneliness of billions of people all over the world. You share on Facebook  It means you have life, you got a like, it means there is a social testimony   that you exist, so basic.

But alongside the benevolent parts of the Internet, there are the parts that allow the citizens of the Internet to easily become anonymous entities and carry out acts of vandalism towards someone else, without being caught. Any person, with a few clicks of a button, can create a fake character for himself, open a card on Facebook or a blog and can use them   to create, unilaterally, relations with the outside world, without being able to create relations and dialogue with this character , because in fact it doesn't exist.   That virtual character, in secrecy  anonymity, can easily  be became the 'innate shadow' (Alter ego ) the unbridledness of a person who moves in the Internet spaces with a feeling of immunity from all  moral code and values.

Throughout human history it is possible to observe the phenomena of anonymous violence. They can be seen through the stoning rituals in biblical society, which made it possible to hurt and kill people without feeling personally responsible for the killing, and until these days, when a group of boys wanders down the street, sees a new BMW and indifferently passes a key along the side of the car._cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ It can be seen through the slanderous posters and calls for a boycott in the ultra-Orthodox community in Mea Shearim, or through the act of the military "zobor" and the 'blanket' procedure in the recruits, gang rape of boys, acts of vandalism by groups after a football game, murderous driving on the road, and even The same fighter pilot, who fires missiles at some GPS point on his radar panel, and wipes out a residential neighborhood, without knowing anyone there, and more.

The anonymity of harming another is the one that allows its existence. When a person feels that he is not seen, he feels that he does not exist as a social being and does not feel himself subject to the norms of human morality and then he is able to do terrible things to himself and others.

Decades ago they did a social experiment in England. The violence in the football fields reached such frightening proportions, and after the deaths of several fans on the field, they installed many cameras directed towards the audience and projected random images of the watching audience on huge screens during a football game. The cheering crowd could no longer act like an irresponsible crowd. Anonymity was attacked, the viewers felt that they were being seen. This simple choice reduced the violence on the field by tens of percent.

The internet works with the same powers as the football stadium, only without cameras pointing at the audience. It allows the single person behind the computer to feel himself as a crowd. Private rage can take on monstrous proportions. Suddenly the surfer feels that he can be a representative of a group, it gives a feeling of great power in his hands. It's often like giving an 8-year-old a submachine gun and letting him roam free in school.

I suspect that in a few years the Internet era we live in now will be called the 'Wild West of the Web'. We will have difficulty understanding and grasping our irresponsibility  as a society and as a culture, we will not understand how we allowed the phenomenon of anonymous violence on the Internet. A time when people agreed to share the things dear to their hearts, without any responsible adult watching over them. We share our intimate things, many of us actually disclose our credit account knowing that this issue is still hacked. We put pictures of the people closest to us, our small and big stories, and this without a defined leadership of real authority.

It is a choice of a vast group of human beings to trust and believe in other human beings without actually knowing them. While in real life most people increase the strength of the locks and alarms of their real home. Many people rarely share in the real world, are afraid and avoid bringing new people into their lives, and even in front of their relatives, most people choose to reduce the dose of sharing, probably out of a controlled knowledge that the desired and actual like is so difficult to achieve.

On the one hand it is amazing, that human ability to believe and surrender to a limitless collective human consciousness. But on the other hand, a number of basic agreements for group community life must exist in the Internet space. And the main thing in it is the definition of the relationship between the citizens who choose to be anonymous and the citizens who have an actual name. And above all, and perhaps most importantly, the responsibility of the webmasters for the materials they publish.

I am not coming out against the anonymous internet citizens, I understand the basic need not to entrust your true identity to the lack of control of the internet. Anonymity is part of the human range, and it is legitimate. Humans don't have to dance on the dance floor, they have every right to look from the sidelines and enjoy a more protected game.

Whose responsibility is it? And what can be done?

Several years ago my father was run over in the street near his residence and was left there injured (he survived and after several months of rehabilitation he even returned to walking), this experience was painful for all members of my family. I wasn't angry at the accident itself, I was angry at the carelessness of my injured father in the street. To this day it is not known who hit him, and the police acted out of deep and necessary helplessness in dealing with this difficult problem of 'hit and run' accidents. .

The anonymous threat in the Internet spaces operates in a different reality than the one who hits the road and runs away, the evidence of his impact is saved and stored in the memory of the servers of the social networks, and the ripples of his impact continue to exist and cause damage and pain in a space that is not limited by time, and the evidence of his violence will exist until the moment he is stopped 'and goes off the air' by the system of The social network.

In my opinion, the responsibility in cases of anonymous violence on the Internet is entrusted to the host social network. In other words, the responsibility lies with the management of Facebook, YouTube, the administrators of the blog sites - the responsibility lies with the owners of the Internet bulletin boards. The social networks are entities with a lot of money, they have a lot of responsibility for the content that appears there. And they must create simple mechanisms to create a quick and accessible dialogue with the consumer audience they provide a service to.

The management of social networks and Google search engine intentionally do not advertise on their legal bureaus phones, _CC781905-5cde-3194-bb3B-136Bad5c58D_ and I guess in the consciousness they do not produce an accessible support system in cases _ccd781905 CF58D_ of anonymous violence, since If there was such a support system, it would be a form of taking responsibility by the website management, which today's legal reality is convenient for the social networks not to take responsibility for it,   and those who are harmed by this are the surfing population.  

It turns out that in the current reality, downloading content from the Internet is a very complicated operation, which requires a high level of Internet proficiency and patience and consistency on the part of the attacked party. I have been trying to download offensive materials for months without success.

My heart goes out to people who are going through worse harm than mine, my anger is over the painful reality of the lack of legislation obligating the internet companies to be responsible for protecting the real citizens from being harmed by the anonymous citizens.

Today's legal reality allows the Internet to be the social 'bully of disgrace' and it gives power to every person to become an anonymous executioner, and this is a very destructive and dangerous reality.

In a healthy Internet society, the subjective person (who has a real name) who feels himself harmed by an anonymous attack on social networks, must know that from the moment he complains, there is a very simple procedural mechanism, such as pressing an 'emergency' button, which directs him directly to the legal department of the social network, from the moment he A person reports an anonymous attack on him, the website must give him information about the party accused of the attack in a manner that is close to immediate. 5cf58d_ _cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_       _cc7819 05-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_   If the site cannot provide the name of an actual character hiding behind the malicious record/photo/film, the case is defined as anonymous violence, then a moral and legal obligation is met  to the administrator The sites to refer to first All the complaining entity with the actual name than the one defining itself anonymously, and to remove/freeze the materials immediately.

In situations of anonymous violence, it is the duty of the host site to remove or freeze the malicious content immediately  until a dialogue is formed with an actual character who takes responsibility for her words and advertisements. If such a procedure does not take place, and the host site does not remove the offensive materials after being aware of this, the host site  moves into the legal status of an accomplice to the past, that is, the site knowingly cooperates with the violence anonymously and should be subject to a law requiring it in legal liability towards the actual injured person. It is very important that every country create laws that oblige the social sites to create protection and enforcement mechanisms against the anonymous violence.


In conclusion

The desire to write this article arose as a kind of natural response to the experience of helplessness I felt in dealing with the experience of an attack from an anonymous blogger who used me for his personal needs. I think that from the moment I chose about ten years ago to publish articles on the Internet, I consciously exposed myself to the natural experience of my words taken out of context. My criticism is not about the criticism but about the form and the violent and inciting words that the anonymous blogger chooses to use.

But this article tries to touch on something much deeper than my personal injury, I am trying to present a wider phenomenon of anonymous violence on the Internet, through a description of the state of a relatively new human culture, a culture where there is no leadership and figures that protect people from interpersonal harm done under the cover of anonymous darkness.

The helplessness of the party attacked by anonymous violence is profound, there is no address to his experience, and he is left with a haunting and obsessive experience that he cannot remove. The experience of someone throwing themselves out of control at someone else without the possibility of creating a dialogue with them is a difficult and helpless experience, and it occurs in the marital system, the political system and almost in every space where there are people, and it is a typical pattern of behavior for humans   (I expand on this phenomenon in an article onThe cycle of violence)

The experience that the attacked party   becomes a kind of object on which the entire inner world can be vomited without control and while erasing its needs, and also from someone foreign and anonymous, is on the one hand such a human and terrifyingly common experience, and in many ways_cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ The objectification of the other is one of the tragedies of the human race and the sources of the deep suffering and loneliness of the people, and on the other hand, the phenomenon of anonymous violence through the misuse of social networks exists and is possible due to an outbreak situation of the lack of legislation, and the lack of simple work procedures to provide help to the people affected by violence anonymous.

In a normal reality, the legal responsibility must be placed on the social networks for being a hostel that allows violation of the basic rights of citizens in maintaining their good name. The combination of the two creates a dangerous reality that allows for the legitimization of anonymous violence and its acceptance as a social norm that must be adapted to instead of being dealt with and set a limit to it at the legislative level.

Link to the original article -  

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