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Digg Mob Strikes Again

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Ok so dig. The mob-mentality of Digg.com users theme is growing thin, I admit. But, as mobs are wont to do, the situation has escalated beyond all reason, and the crowd isn’t sorry, just more vicious.

It’s getting harder to make a case for the necessity of humanity these days, when it’s so ever-present in your living room, or poking its ugly head out of your computer monitor – the whys are increasingly wider than the becauses, chasms you’ll fall right into.

Yes, I know. Get on with it. Just the facts, then.

A little over a month ago, Digg.com user Phillip Hullquist, a Texan, complained to fellow Digg users that Amanda Brunzell had stolen his camcorder. He asked the community there to help him retrieve it by admonishing them to call her or email her to return it.

Her phone number and email address were posted, and can still be found there today, despite apparent violations of Digg.com terms of use and promises of privacy protection.

Hullquist linked to a YouTube video in that original post where "the whole story" could be heard. Viewed over 12,000 times, according to Hullquist’s blog, that video has since been deleted for violations of YouTube’s terms of use – presumably the posting of personal information.

Michigan legislators have a problem with posting other people’s personal information online as well, but we’ll get to that later.

To a few Digg users’ credit, there were protests in the comment thread from the beginning, the pithiest of which comes from, er, "Humptydank."

"So we’ve finally reached a point where stalkers have become too lazy to even do the stalking themselves," comments Humptydank. "Outsourcing has hit every industry, I suppose."

But as for others, rationality, morality, legality, nor decency prevailed. Despite that no one really "knew" either of the two people involved, or could be certain of who was telling the truth (the police even said there wasn’t sufficient evidence for Hullquist to make a claim), Diggers, en masse, began calling and emailing.

I remember a family I went to school with. The Caldwells. Three boys, one very gorgeous girl. All it took was one fight for everybody to know that if you messed with one, you messed with them all, as six fists came flying instead of two, and Sister stood to the side and threw books. But nobody messed with the Caldwells anymore.

While that type of response has its function in familial (and animal) survival, in civilized society it is rarely a good (or noble) idea.
A Michigan news source says Brunzell, who denies taking the camcorder, was contacted hundreds of times and some people made death threats in their attempt to get her to return the camera.

Hulquist beat that source to the punch, announcing on Digg and his blog that Michigan police were launching felony charges against him for posting identifiable information online, causing that person to be contacted without their consent two or more times.

"It apparently doesn’t matter that the information is already public such as in a phone book or elsewhere on the internet," he writes on his blog. On Digg, Hullquist says he was charged for "submitting a Digg story."

He faces up to four years in prison.

And the Digg crowd’s response?

" Boo-friggin-hoo – give the man his damn camera back (or buy him a new one as you probably sold it), and it will circulate just as quickly that the situation is cleared up," suggests "mongrel."

"That bitch seriously better get what she deserves," said z00k. "I back the guy 100% on this. All he wants is his damn camera, Just f**king give it to him and apologize."

There is, though, like in the beginning, a solitary voice among them questioning, from, ironically, "crazybrit."

"I’m surprised it got so many diggs, and that people actually harassed her. People on the internet make me sad."

 

Digg Mob Strikes Again
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  • Aboyd

    The thing is, even if the police wouldn’t pursue his claim, he DID present evidence — she (or someone who hacked her account, as it was her username that was used) did in fact post a camcorder up for auction, 5 days after he reported the theft.

    For that reason, I’d say that even if the police didn’t act, it did NOT mean that she was innocent. The auction page is still in Google’s cache! People can see it for themselves! It’s not like the guy just said “get her” — there were supporting documents. In addition, his video made it clear that he wanted people to be exceedingly polite and NOT make threats. So based upon all of this, I continue to support him, and I continue to think that those defending her were suckered.

    • Jason Lee Miller

      The only thing is that she hasn’t been charged, and though we might suspect or believe, there is still the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Diggers assumed guilt and went on the offensive.

      Whether she did or not is moot at this point. Hullquist did something wrong for certain, which is post someone’s personal information online without their consent and incited a sort of riot. Just because you ask a crowd to be civil, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. In fact, would say it’s unreasonable to think it won’t get out of hand, especially in a group of young people.

      Like for example, this crowd:

      http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110AP_Crash_Assault.html

      Humans are less than 2 percent away from chimps, and they often act like it.

  • http://rudygreene.blogspot.com Phillip Hullquist

    The problem is that police aren’t interested in investigating theft. They write up a report and that’s it. Amanda was named as a suspect for the theft before I ever saw the camcorder for sale online. When that evidence was found, police still refused to investigate before “internet evidence can be forged.” What’s so hard about issuing a search warrant and looking for the missing property? What is the next step in getting stolen property returned? The police suggested I just put out another $2000 and buy a new camcorder. Clearly, they don’t care…