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17 NOVEMBER 2008

Social software used for mobilising a campaign against those convicted of causing the death of 'Baby P'

"The identity of the 27–year–old mother of Baby P was last night being circulated on the internet with the names of her boyfriend and the third man convicted of causing the child's death, after online vigilantes began a campaign calling for violent retribution against them.
...
Facebook shut down pages carrying threats and abusive comments about the mother after thousands of users subscribed to groups carrying the names of the couple and Jason Owen, 36, who were convicted at the Old Bailey this week of causing the 17–month–old boy's horrific death. The judge's order allows Owen's identity to be made public.

One Facebook group was entitled 'Death is too good for [the mother's name], torture the bitch that killed Baby P'. Another that carried the name said 'Baby P killers should be hanged Drawn and Quartered'. The page contained graphic threats of violence and the addresses of the three.

Facebook said that although many of the comments on the chat groups it hosted reflected conversations taking place 'from the House of Commons to the man on the street', it was making sure that comments breaking the court order and its own rules were removed.

Another social networking site, Bebo, removed the mother's profile page after abusive messages were posted, while her Friends Reunited profile was also being circulated.

The difficulties of policing the internet were highlighted when the mother's name briefly appeared in a discussion thread about Baby P hosted by The Sun. The information was removed.
...
Mark Stephens, of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: 'There is a ... problem with trying to enforce court orders that apply to the UK ... We either need to develop more sophisticated ways of dealing with this kind of information when it is posted or we decide to recognise the permeability of information once it reaches the internet.'"

(Cahal Milmo, Saturday, 15 November 2008, The Independent)

TAGS

ad-hoc • Baby P • Bebocampaigncommunication • court order • cyber vigilantismFacebook • Internet Watch Foundation • online • retribution • smart mobssocial interactionsocial softwaresocietyUKviolenceviral

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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