Cybercrime is a self-defeating virusHuman dignity was brutally violated with the click of a mouse. They call themselves warriors - twisted warriors. They have no sense of ethics or morality. They simply commit character assassinations for fun. With just a few taps on the keyboard, actresses became prostitutes, and a female comedian became a pimp. The keyboard criminals created a nest in cyberspace, and the problem is that they are still having fun, without understanding the implications of their crimes.
Lee Da-hae, an actress, pressed defamation charges against the people who spread disparaging rumors claiming she had been involved in the sex trade. “I will deal with this situation with a determination to root out the evil,” she was quoted as saying.
Malicious rumors and posts spread like poisonous mushrooms in cyberspace; it is no wonder Lee was determined to aggressively defend herself. Her feelings cannot be understood by those who have not experienced a similar situation.
There is a consistent mechanism for gossip to spread in cyberspace. Rumors start in shadowy spaces. Though most rumors are pure creations, the libertines in cyberspace use their imaginations. Packaged gossip goes viral through online messaging. Internet users spread rumors and reproduce them using their computers and smartphones.
Internet portal sites only fuel the situation. Sites such as Naver enjoy a high season when such rumors spread. Keywords linked to those rumors are quickly posted in real-time and put in most-searched word lists. Portal sites have no intention of verifying that information. They abandon social responsibility. They merely use sly, shallow tactics to increase the number of views of their content.
When the latest rumor spread concerning celebrities and the sex trade, most of the keywords listed on the major portal sites’ most-searched-words lists touched upon it. The sites claimed that those words became hot topics because so many users searched for them and because they appeared frequently in news reports.
But that explanation is extremely irresponsible. Site operators are clearly after money and are willing to turn a blind eye to unverified, malicious information posted on their pages, which are visited by millions of netizens. Poisonous mushrooms grow with the portal sites’ commercial spirit.
The prosecution must find out who started these rumors. The game these keyboard criminals play in the shadows is a vicious virus in our society. In the era of the Internet, more refined and strict ethics are required. To this end, a thorough investigation is absolutely necessary.
Furthermore, law enforcement authorities must require portal sites to make more efforts to regulate themselves. Nasty, voyeuristic misinformation is being collected on these portal sites at this very moment, and yet portal sites are boldly displaying it without bothering to filter it. Their shamelessness is lamentable.
*The author is the new media editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by KIM JONG-YOON