Wiki-bullying may put you behind bars

Have a beef with someone? Why it’s time to wise up on Wikipedia

Wiki-bullying is at the top of the news agenda following the revelation that the Tower of London has suspended two beefeaters as part of a harassment investigation of its first female Yeoman Moira Cameron, with resulting implications for the legal system that will directly affect cases brought to court.

Wiki-bullying could result in criminal convictions that see the bullies responsible put behind bars. With direct legal consequences as a result of an individual’s online actions, internet users need to think before they edit what the ramifications of their conduct may be.

There are now legal implications for anyone posting inappropriate content to sites such as Wikipedia, as Scotland Yard yesterday demonstrated when they confirmed that a “56-year-old man received a caution under the Communications Act 2003 on Tuesday October 20 following an investigation by officers from Tower Hamlets. It related to inappropriate use of the internet.” We can expect to see this trend continue and the internet remain at the heart of future harassment, slander and other criminal cases that affect personal reputation.

I happen to agree that bullies should be properly punished for their actions, regardless of whether its online or offline. However, this story just goes to show the increasing importance of online reputation, and why we all must be more proactive in monitoring our online presence.

If internet users are more literate digitally they will be better equipped to protect themselves online. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. In an internet age, personal brands are never off limits and are always available to see.”

Employers and government alike need to be doing more to improve people’s understanding as to the implications of the internet and they can be profiled on it, helping them to take control of their reputation online. The most important considerations for individuals remain:

  • Be proactive – Check your profiles online regularly and ensure the content on it is positioning you in a way you want to be positioned
  • Have an online base – Create a personal home page (blog or even a basic website) and set up official social media accounts across the major platforms that link into that base, making sure the content across all of them is accurate and true
  • Report inaccuracy – If someone has posted untrue or slanderous comment about you to an online site, contact the service’s administrators and encourage your circle of influence to post comment supporting your position
2 Comments
  • what’s really interesting about case is that bullying is normally an activity that remains hidden but bullying via online tools such as wikipedia places this action into the public realm.

    in the real-world bullies do anything they can to remain hidden – it kind of highlights the lack of awareness of how visible your online actions are, that bullies don’t feel that they have to hide this kind of behaviour online.

    November 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm
  • “Ignorance is no longer an excuse” is a key learning here.

    This is even more valid when it comes to parents letting their children online without any safeguards in place. We are now seeing cases where parents sue Facebook because their children accepted strangers as friends, decided that it would be a good idea to meet them and the worse happened.

    It should be a public duty to ensure that everyone is properly online-educated and aware of the impact of displaying their lives on the internet, where anything can be accessed and everyone is accessible.

    November 11, 2009 at 11:03 am

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