For more than twenty years ago a now famous author, Julian Dibbel, wrote an article about ‘a rape in cyberspace’. The issue the author wanted to touch upon with this article was how to secure people’s actions to their avatars in ways that allowed wizards to control infringement of those avatars. This Friday, something happened in cannithtrade that brought this dilemma very much to life again. It all started when this person logged on whom I had the mistaken idea of being a friend with. (S)he was on my friends list and I hadn’t seen him/her for a long time, so I said hello and how’s it going and would you like to say hi on our guild’s new Facebook page where we try to make acquaintance with the people we like. The project had been successful so far so I didn’t think it could cause any trouble to get to know the people you play with so often.
Next thing the person goes into a flare about me/us being ‘friends’ with another person (s)he supposedly had been in a quarrel with. (S)he then started asking me to link pictures from this latter person’s Facebook account because (s)he wasn’t friended with this person. I found that highly suspicious and said I couldn’t see any pictures and I had no idea what (s)he was talking about. This was apparently enough for me to cross the line and suddenly belong to the group of people this former person identified as ‘not friends’.
(S)he told me (s)he had nude photos of the alleged person and that (s)he would link them in cannithtrade. This obviously stirred some commotion in the channel, people starting to turn the channel into an arena in hopes of some bloodshed. A few seconds later, the person who threatened to link the pictures went ahead and did so from another character.
Personally I didn’t copy-paste the pictures because image files can be embedded with keyloggers, and ddo does not offer authenticators. So I reported the character linking the image files for spam, a character, and maybe also account, that was not the same as the former character posing threats of revealing and embarrassing this person in his/her absence. (The person the photos were claimed to be of was not online).
People’s reactions to these photos claimed some validity to the person’s claim about what was on the photos. Some people responded in a more humane fashion with outright contempt. Soon after this, another character logged on, once again a different name from the former two, this time the person started to ramble with delusional fantasies in cannithtrade about me and the person who was on the photos. Apparently this was payback for me reporting the previous character for posting pictures of another person. Of course I just reported this third avatar for harassment.
When the first character then finally logged back on, and the two other characters, the one posting links to pictures and the one harassing me, were both logged off again, then I asked the person whom I for less than fifteen minutes ago thought of as my friend, a person I have had fun with in various raids, why (s)he did those things. (S)he played the spin-doctor card and denied to have any idea about all of the things that just happened, i.e. ‘(s)he was offline’ and dissociated from those characters. (Later, however, the person admitted from the original character that people ‘missed out on it’ when they wanted him/her to repost the pictures.)
Three days later, the victim of this menacing rampage wrote to me on Facebook, accusing me of being in on the ploy. The question is, who wasn’t in on it? Those who laughed and asked for the pictures to be posted again? Those who reacted with dismay but didn’t do anything to stop it, i.e. report the person who was crusading? Just by witnessing everything that took place, some might even say I was one of the victims, I feel as guilty as a culprit myself. Even though I utilized all the tools ddo has available to control the wildfire, even though I did nothing along the lines of feeding this troll with information (s)he could use against the (fictive?) target, I feel horrible for entrusting him/her with the feelings I would towards a friend.
It is sad to see how security and identity issues addressed more than twenty years ago are still on the line when you try to bridge the gap between the virtual and the real. It saddens me to see this sort of ghetto mentality where people believe it is a token of wit to “ruin some people’s lives”. And those were exactly the words the person offered when I said hi, long time no see, what are you up to and would you like to say hi on our Facebook page. What I thought was a joke turned out to be a nightmare and all I have left to ask is what people hope to achieve with this.
Edited with paragraphs. Thank you fTdOmen.