Be Vigilant for Vigilantes

For Chapter 14: "Nobody is Safe from Everybody"

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In the previous post, we visited with Howard Baer, who runs Dumponyou.com, a website that encourages anonymous whistleblowers to post gossip and allegations against others.

Unfortunately, Baer is hardly alone in his endeavors. Hate, revenge and anonymous flaming constitute an online industry, including, but by no means limited to, ThePayback.com, "for all your revenge needs" and the especially sadistic RevengeWorld.com, where spurned or otherwise spiteful men post pornographic photos of their ex-girlfriends.

A related -- and arguably more benign -- category is the "women beware" genre such as Womansavers.com, a sort of ePinions,com devoted to alleged cads, creeps, brutes and philanderers. Women rate the guys they've dated on honesty, fidelity and conduct, presumably to alert their clueless sisters about the potential nightmares lurking in the dating pool.

Needless to say, there are very few Mr. Rights catalogued here. And needless to say, readers are privy only to the woman's side of the story.

But, of course, revenge can also be the private, noncommercial pursuit of the lone aggrieved -- such as my personal soul-boiler, or such as Chicago blogger Craig Gunderson. In June 2007, Gunderson ("I'm just so angry all the time," according to his blog profile) was peeved at being flamed by an ex-colleague. So he spent the day following links, IP addresses and other digital clues to gather as much embarrassing information on the flamer as he could, then posted it on his blog.

This he deemed a lesson to the poor shnook he called "Huey."

Gunderson: So my point is the internets are the biggest, brittlest glass houses out there. It's wide open and that openess is there to keep us honest and in-check. There are no police in the interwebs, we are the police. Huey threw a rock yesterday and he should really know better.
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