Postmortem Facebook Harassment

This story ran in the Huffington Post.  It’s about a popular, well-liked 17-year-old girl with a soccer scholarship to college who killed herself.  After her death, her friends (or family? It doesn’t specify) set up a Facebook tribute page that had nasty comments posted on it.  One example talked about was photos of people with nooses around their necks.

Alexis Pilkington

The parents of the girl’s friends are submitting the anonymous comments to law officials because this is causing emotional damage to the dead teen’s friends.

This goes back to our discussion on anonymity online and whether or not there is real harm done.  People were posting nasty, hurtful comments under a veil of anonymity.  People were harmed. Emotionally, at least.  Sources are unsure if the harassment was the cause of the girl’s suicide, but they are taking this into consideration.

What do you think this case says about the ethics behind being anonymous and being online?

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2 thoughts on “Postmortem Facebook Harassment

  1. I actually saw an example of this happening on a similar site made for a boy from my hometown, and i can definitely understand the harm it causes to the female’s family and friends. However, in the world of social networking I feel like this is the type of trolls you open up to if you make a group public. Unfortunately I feel like it could have been prevented had they made the group request based so only her friends and family could comment or share their sympathies, as opposed to people with nothing positive to say. I am saying all of that assuming that the member doing the harassing was neither a friend or family.

  2. There is a price to pay for freedom of speech; the unintelligent, delusional, and sinister have just as much protection under the law to be deconstructive of society as those who are trying to make the world a better place. *cough*rushlimbaugh*cough* Oft-times, those with a message of anger and aggression have a bigger audience than those with a message of hope. (This goes to show what kind of creatures we humans are.)

    The same can be said of anonymity. Everyone likes to be anonymous (the airplane effect), but there are those who take advantage of the anonymity. It’s like the ref at basketball games. If the ref didn’t call it, I’m not responsible for poking your eyes out.

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