One of the things I've been predicting about a lot of the Internet corruption happening these days is that the law will eventually step in and take over. Charges will be pressed and these Internet crimes will be prosecuted. How Internet crimes are defined seems arguable these days. Joe Konrath seems to think that no one is completely innocent and no one can point the finger at anyone else. In fact, this is what Konrath says in a recent post:
Fake reviews, like sock puppets and trolling and flame wars, will always be part
of the Internet and are no big deal.
He's even created a few fake reviews on Amazon, here. He did this on purpose for a reason. He's trying to prove his point and he's speaking about a very small segment of Internet crime. I don't want to take his post or his comments out of context; he's trying to be funny. And if it were all this simplistic and the world were all hopey and changey and peace and love, I would probably agree with him all the way around. And what a wonderful world it would be, indeed.
But I know people who work closely with Internet crime daily and the world isn't like that. The people I know who work in Internet crime scope the Internet daily to help expose child molesters, gambling rings, and stalkers of the worst kind. That's just to name a few, without getting into child porn and drugs. A good deal of this crime is based on Internet anonymity and sockpuppeting. And even though what happens with online reviews of any kind can be labeled as less offensive than the things I mentioned above, it's still sockpuppeting, it's still misleading, and it's still wrong. I know it's less of a crime to steal gum at the drugstore than it is to rob a bank. But it's still stealing. Plain and simple.
In New Jersey a young man was recently arrested for allegedly stalking juveniles with sockpuppet accounts.
Troopers arrested Craig L. Wyatt Jr. of Hamilton
Township, according to a press release. He is being held in Atlantic County Jail
on $35,000 bail.
The arrest came on a tip from the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children. The group alerted New Jersey State Police in
July that a Facebook account using the name Jimmy Raketerra sent a threatening
message to a juvenile from Browns Mills.
Clearly, this has been an ongoing investigation, as are most Internet crimes these days. This person allegedly used e-mail and social media to threaten juveniles under more than one fake identity and sockpuppet account. I'm not even getting into the ramifications of social media here, and where their responsibility rests. That would be a completely different post altogether. I also wonder if the people who invest in facebook stock realize that the so-called billions of facebook accounts are not all one account with one person. In some cases it's two or three accounts to one person. In others it's far more.
I'm certain this isn't going to be the last time we hear about an arrest like this. And while I wish I could agree with Konrath when he says sockpuppets are no big deal, I can't help but look at the overall picture of the Internet crime we are facing and will be facing in the future and wonder how many more times I'm going to read about Internet corruption being exposed. Because the interesting thing is this...and I know first hand from people who are involved with Internet crime...you can hide, you can try to cover all the bases, you can pretend no one will ever find out, but eventually you will get caught. Another thing of which I'm certain is that the young man who was arrested in New Jersey had no idea he'd been under investigation that long.
How many others are under investigation right now? It's something to think about, not laugh about. And that's because on the Internet there's always a trail.