Well, things have finally gotten out of hand.
A woman named Kathy Sierra, the head of Head First books from O'Reilly, and a lecturer has been receiving death threats--a federal crime--both visual and written from people who are apparently offended by the fact that she is a woman. Frighteningly, many of them have not even tried to be anonymous.
Blogger Receives Death Threats
Another entry talks about how children 11 - 13 are bullied online--more girls (20%) than boys (10%).
Children Being Bullied Online
Of course, it doesn't help that there's a new site called Stickam that's essentially a video mySpace. I looked at it yesterday after I read about it being a likely danger to children. It's still bothering me.
All of the users I found were kids, a lot of them young girls (14, 15), taking sexy pictures of themselves (often in the bathroom mirror) and making sexy videos of themselves. Some of it is heading in the direction of child porn. I had to leave the site before I actually found some and got even more upset. As you might imagine, the pedophiles are out and easy to spot in the comments (many of them have pictures--doesn't anyone realize this stuff can land you in jail, making sexual comments to underage kids?). The kids, meanwhile, are goaded on by being told how sexy they are. You can also tell from seeing the videos and photos that in most cases (at least what I saw), parents have no idea. The kids clearly think it's funny and cool.
The site is really disturbing; I sent info to some colleagues, since we teach psychology and sociology and other classes that make this material relevant. I told them that if they show anything to their classes, they need to preview all the material they use, partly because nobody wants to be accused of showing child pornography.
Oh, and did I mention a lot of the stuff is live, so it's not like you can stop broadcast after you've realized you've gone too far?
There's also some unbelievable language, kids talking about doing things kids shouldn't be doing. (One girl talked about getting trashed on New Year's and making out with another girl--she had pictures. She's 14.)
I see a change in the way the internet works ahead. Or maybe I should say, dear God, I hope there are changes ahead.
Back to the death threats -- Ms. Sierra talks about the situation in detail here -- she speaks about it very openly and graphically so people know what happened, so if you're easily upset by this sort of thing, just stick with the first article:
Kathy Sierra's blog
And by the way--this kind of thing can cause PTSD. It's really that bad. As she says, the threats alone are traumatic and can change your life for the worse.