Tuesday, April 12, 2011

iShareGossip Anonymous Gossip Website Targeted UPDATE

On March 25th Silent Sender reported on the European webstie iShareGossip and how it was under fire by the German government for permitting and possibly encouraging hateful speech and cyber-bullying. The prior report can be found in the archives under 'iShareGossip Anonymous Gossip Website Targeted'. As of March 30th, the German government has banned access to the gossip website, however the site continues to operate and remains very popular amongst German and European teens.

The online gossip site iShareGossip.com allegedly encourages harassment at school. The German government has quickly moved to block the site from major search engines but the popluarity of the site persists even though it cannot be searched for. Blocking "search" of the website is kind of like sweeping the dust under the proverbial rug. It doesn't really do anything but hide it from searches.  It is still accessible online and can be searched for outside of Germany as well. The concern remains that the website doesn't just encourage an environment for hateful speech, but invades users privacy rights because anyone can openly post anonymous comments about anyone else in a public forum. The controversy is somewhat confusing because this is not a new problem or issue. Anyone can easy defame of post derogatory comments anonymously on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter (if you create a fictitious account) or any of the "suggestion" websites like Askville, Wiki Answers or Yahoo! Answers. It just so happens that iShareGossip may be inadvertently (or openly) marketing itself as a venue for anon "haters". While we have these problems in the United States - even websites such as Tumblr.me and Formspring.me have not prompted government intervention. As far as Germany goes, the questions should be what are the legal ramifications of it iShareGossip's users and the website itself? What laws are being broken by posters (defamation laws) and is the website considered public domain. What would be the difference if I screamed at the top of my lungs some hateful speech about a student while in the playground?

Silent Sender in no way condones cyber-bullying or the poor choices that some teens are making on iShareGossip or any other social networking website, blog or YouTube. It is likely that these same teens would engage in a similar form of harassment if the gossip website was not available. Social networking will continue to evolve, and matters of anonymity will have to be addressed in order to preserve freedom of speech. Once again- rude and hateful speech usually emanates from emotionally unstable individuals that do not have the ability to control themselves or recognize the ramifications of their actions. It is the recommendation of Silent Sender that the government of Germany refocus it's efforts on educating teens about personal responsibility and accountability while surfing online. They can begin doing this by supporting German families and providing useful guidelines about online social etiquette. Most young adults follow the rules and thrive on structure. The only way to combat anarchy is by giving the chaos structure that comes from within. Encouraging strong family values and making teens accountable for their actions both online and offline will reinforce a safer more civilized online community, regardless of the website, digital forum or playground.

Anonymous messaging and the ability to send anonymous emails or engage one another in anonymous social networking venues is an important part of society and an innate right that should never be quelled. Abusers of this privilege should not "be a precedent" for eliminating or suppressing this freedom.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

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