Policing the Interwebz

As we have oft banged on about mentioned occasionally, one of the joys of social media is that it let’s you hear what’s actually being said, and as we warn clients, what is being said is not always good. This is because our actions and interactions on the interwebz tends to accurately reflect real life, and unfortunately real life is not the place of pink fluffy warmth and kindness that we like to pretend it is. On a personal level, one of the other joys of social media is that it allows us to create rather effective filters so that we can easily avoid the iccky stuff that might put us off our cornflakes. Of course, when this self-created cocoon does occasionally get burst it enhances the shock value.

It’s not surprising that social media darling, Twitter, has a dark underbelly. We know about the spammers, who hasn’t been followed by a gaggle of horny Brittany’s at some point, but they are easy to block and ignore, making sure our filters stay intact. But it seems that Mike Butcher, over at TechCrunch UK has discovered an even seedier side, when he was tipped off about a user called Dinner_Guest, who appears to be blogging about the kidnap and subsequent killing of someone. Mike suggests that it could be a stunt, but also says:

Now, clearly this could all be part of some sick fantasy. The trouble is, should we take that chance, or do the Police in Brighton need to know that they have a potential serial killer on their hands who has taken to Twittering his killing spree?

It’s clearly not possible to know either way, until real-world events start to match up with Dinner Guest’s Tweets.

I hope that Mike did actually call the cops before posting, even though I do believe that it is a stunt. The account is only eight days old but has a professional background and its very second tweet was from Twitterlator. Most unusual behaviour for a n00b, unless of course this is not their first account, though why would they then ask how to follow people later on, unless of course they are pretending to be a n00b?Plus, what kind of serial killer realises that no matter who says it that 80 followers does not a viral make. In short, the whole thing smells worse than my rugby captains lucky socks by season end and I have a sneaky suspicion that all will be revealed by Saturday.

Stunt or not, it does raise questions about how we should react to incidents like this, and how we should then deal with the perpetrator if it does turn out to be a stunt. Mike raises a good point about how once the mainstream media finds out about this there will no doubts be calls for Twitter to be policed, which to me is equally as unpalatable as some of the stuff that appears online. It would also be practically impossible plus, if there is a serial killer operating in Brighton, wouldn’t it be handy if he kept tweeting about it so that he could be tracked down via his email and IP address? Must be far more effective than tracing anonymous notes and phone calls.

Also posted on Clicking & Screaming

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