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Kevin Finch Childrens Media Final Paper 4-14-09 Cyber Bullying Versus Internet Justice in the Case of Kenny

Glenn The Internet as a Medium for Justice and Injustice Bullying is no longer confined to the realms of the classroom, lunch hall and playground. With the advance of technology bullying has broken down the locative barriers that have traditionally lead to victims having a safe space at home or in their own rooms. This means that the reprieve victims previously felt by reaching their private spaces has been shattered by the prevalence of identity on the Internet. In portraying ones identity on the internet through social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook children open themselves up to an almost constant opportunity for bullying. Many researchers have looked into the problem and assessed it as such. In my paper I will compare it (with anecdotal evidence) to an example of what some would call Internet Justice. The story shows examples of Internet bullying taken to the extreme, while also showing a criminal being brought to justice by the same points that opened him up to the bullying. In my paper I will compare the differences between what is a the duty of a responsible citizen to report to the appropriate authorities, and what is malicious bullying behavior that should not have to occur to anyone regardless of the infractions that they may be responsible for. In the case of Kenny Glenn is recorded by the websites http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Kenny_Glenn and http://partyvan.info/wiki/Kenny_Glenn, and I will provide a summary of the information found on the websites here. Two videos of a thirteen-year-old boy named Kenny Glenn putting a cat (named Dusty) through abuse that no animal should be allowed to go through. On the video Kenny Glenn hid his identity with the hope of preventing exactly what was about to happen from happening. The members of another website, 4chan.org, caught wind of these videos and were not in any way shape or form amused. The members of the second site got together via a chat client and proceeded to discuss how to handle the situation. Due to the fact that many members of the 4Chan forums were skilled in hacking and other forms of Internet manipulation, information was found regarding the (until then unknown) cat abuser, linking images from the video to the Facebook account of Kenny Glenn. Once they had a name the information available from Facebook, the search for more information could begin in earnest. Once an appropriate amount of information had been gathered, the local authorities were notified, and the legal wheels were in motion for the prosecution of Kenny Glenn as an animal abuser. If that were where the story ended, this would simply be considered a situation where concerned members of the Internet worked together in order to see justice done in a despicable situation. Unfortunately, the same people who found it necessary to do everything within the legal parameters also found it necessary to take some of the punishment of this individual into their own hands. In order to make sure that Glenn would never consider abusing animals and gloating about it in a public sphere again, various members of 4Chan decided to enact what they call Ruin Life Tactics. This included ordering $500-600 dollars worth of pizza, products, and services that are cash on delivery. These are all pranks that can be associated with bullying, that thanks to the Internet broadened the range of who could participate in making Glenn feel threatened. http://partyvan.info/wiki/Kenny_Glenn was one of the main perpetrators of opening Glenn to these harassment tactics. Those who went to the trouble of finding out information about Glenn took the fruits of their labor and posted them on a website for other people to take time to punish this individual for what he did. Thanks to the information provided to the local authorities (including potential home addresses, family names, and a phone number where Glenns mother was reached) Kenny Glenn and his brother Weston were charged with animal abuse on February 17. This was a mere 2 days after the videos were discovered. Something else that we can thank the vigilant members of the 4Chan website is that due to the investigation following Glenns charge, additional videos were found, making for a heavier case against the young animal abuser. The cats have been taken in by local animal shelters, and were in much better care now that the proper authorities have intervened. This situation exhibits some of the best qualities of people working together to do a good deed, with some of the more deplorable aspects of cyber bullying. In order to properly understand what exactly cyber bullying is I will provide a better example of what bullying is. Patchin and Hinduja quote Stephenson and Smith as saying bullying is

A form of social interaction in which a more dominant individual [the bully] exhibits aggressive behavior which is intended to and does, in fact, cause distress to a less dominant individual [the victim]. The aggressive behavior may take the form of direct physical and/or verbal attack or may be indirect as when the bully hides a possession that belongs to the victim or spreads false information about the victim. The important factors that this definition brings up are that the relationship is between two people of differing power levels, an act is committed that results in intentional distress. To follow Patchin and Hindujas ideas involving the differences between traditional and cyberbulllying, one must simply exchange how the behavior is mediated between the bully and the victim. A broader definition of Cyber Bullying could include any medium that has some sort of technological interface, including phones and pagers and such. In this paper the focus is to remain on the internet, so I will use that as the basic medium for the purposes of this research. A concept that can be applied to this whole scenario is that of identity. The Internet has long been a place of mutable identity, from lying about how old you are in a chat room, to playing a character on a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game . Both of these forms of identity manipulation are common, and easily done. So, one might ask, why doesnt the victim of cyber bullying simply change his online identity in an effort to avoid detection by his online bully? The main reason is simple. In order to build up the network of friends, and gain trust with his online peers, the victim needs to anchor to some sort of arbitrary identity that those peers can associate with what they come to know as that person. Only by building up this personality online can the victim manage to have any sort of realistic relationship with those he has online. Enter the bully. In order for the bully to achieve his goal of causing distress to the victim, the bully merely has to be able to get in contact with the victim in some way shape or form. His identity does not need to be intimately known to the victim, although it is entirely possible that the victim can infer the identity of this new person causing him distress regardless of a new avatar, handle, or screen name. This missing identity can even work to the Bullys advantage. This can allow the bully to work in collaboration with other bullies to continue the distress beyond the normal abilities of a single aggressor. This leads to a greater sense of paranoia in the victim, not knowing who exactly is harassing him, or why they are doing so, making the victim feel like he or she somehow deserves it. This self-mutability also makes it possible for those who would not normally partake in the act of bullying to do so. If one were wondering about how it may feel to bully someone, perhaps a victim himself, the one could create an identity on, and then harass someone anonymously. In the case of Kenny Glenn, the bully(s) include anyone who took part in any of the action that occurred past the proper authorities being notified. This makes an important distinction from the 4Chan members who researched the information on Glenn, and the people who acted upon this information to cause him distress (though in many cases these people are one and the same). The aggressors are in a position of greater dominance because they are able to perpetrate their acts without fear of reprisal, due to their anonymity, while Glenn is in a position of inferior dominance because his identity has been compromised, and he is lacking the comfort that those who are assailing him enjoy. The distressing acts in this case involve both physical actions (products and services being ordered to his home) as well as verbal attacks (distressing phone calls). Erving Goffman first introduced the idea of positive and negative face, in the context of social interactions. He argues that when one is presenting one self, there are two things that are underlying the presentation. Positive face, the desire to be liked by others, and negative face, the desire to not be imposed upon. Actions that bullies take can (in this context) be taken as severe face threatening acts. Because they are not concerned about remaining polite, and because they have the advantage of anonymity, the bullies in this case have absolutely no regard for their own face values. Coincidently they have no concern for the face value of their victim. Quite the contrary, their goal is to perform as many, or as intense of face threatening acts as possible. Their acts diminish Glenns positive and negative face by making him feel as if he is not liked by others (for apparent reasons) and by removing his autonomy via the physical products and services sent to his home with malicious intent. At this point, I would like to make an important distinction between teasing and bullying. Keltner et al define teasing as an intentional provocation accompanied by playful off-record markers that together comment on something relevant to the target. This definition shows teasing as something that has a social importance, as opposed to directly referring to something that is solely designed with the aim of eliciting a negative response. This leads to bullying being a type of teasing, while not all forms of teasing are bullying. When one bullies, they are intentionally provoking, but it is with the sole purpose to tear down

the targets negative or positive face, as opposed to simply bringing up something relevant to the target. In the Glenn case, relevance to the target is also removed from the equation. Instead of choosing some aspect of Glenn and focusing on that, the aggressors are simply latching on to the fact that he has done something unacceptable in their eyes, and it must be punished, and just one of the many punishments happen to be his being reported to the local authorities. These acts are only being used in the broad sense to cause distress. There is nothing specific to Kenny Glenn that will specifically cause distress by sending him large numbers of pizzas that he cannot possibly afford. This action simply tear down his negative face because it imposes upon him to explain to the pizza deliverer how he did not order the product and he is unable to pay for it, thereby putting him into an embarrassing situation. How does justice work into this equation? Kenny Glenn clearly committed a crime (as per Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21, Chapter 67 Section 1685: Acts of Cruelty to Animals) and flaunted his success in his avoidance of receiving the appropriate repercussions. While flaunting this success he drew attention to himself, and someone acted on it. As such, the local authorities followed the law to make sure that Glenn received the repercussions as Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21, Chapter 67 Section 1685: Acts of Cruelty to Animals requires. The only reason that these actions were brought to the attention of the proper authorities is because certain members of a certain forum managed to see that something needed to be done. The question is: Was it their responsibility to make sure that information made it to the authorities? Why did YouTube not report the incident instead of simply removing the videos? In this section of the paper, I will present my research regarding government surveillance and privacy technologies. Should it have been up to the members of 4Chan to step up, search for the information necessary to convict, or should the government had had some hand in the gathering of the pertinent information for the arrest or Kenny Glenn? In a world where information inundates those who look for it on the Internet, the government has gone to special lengths in order to use this information for the protection of the United States on the whole. Tamara Dinev expresses one position on this problem in her article on Social Awareness and Internet Literacy. One of the more important hypotheses that Dinev comes to in her article is that internet literacy is negatively related to the perceived need for government surveillance and positively related to government intrusion concerns . From this it can be inferred that, according to Dinevs research, those involved in the search for Kenny Glenn feel that not only was it their duty to do what the did, but it was also their right, as opposed to the governments right to meddle in the affairs of the internet. Another idea is brought up by Goldberg et al when they state that the threats to ones internet privacy are two-fold: your online actions could be (1) monitored by unauthorized parties and (2) logged and preserved for future access many years later . This is an unfortunate situation that has happened to one, Kenny Glenn. YouTube has since eliminated the incriminating files. This has not, however, prevented them from staying on the internet. In another effort to make sure this animal abuser Gets whats coming to him Anonymous of 4Chan has ensured that the videos are ensconced in their own site www.KennyGlenn.net. This violates both sides of the internet privacy fears that Goldberg et al bring up. First, the actual existence of the site implies that someone was somehow monitoring his actions in the first place, and as the evidence shows, someone was. The second half is far more dangerous. Due to the recent concepts of Google Vetting one has to be careful what comes up when ones name is Googled. Thanks to the website mentioned earlier, when one searches for Kenny Glenns name on Google.com, a series of information pops up explaining what it was exactly that this kid did. So, from using this particular event, we can examine several aspects of how the internet is a community unto itself. The particular phenomena that were apparent here were bullying, justice, and identity. The members of the 4Chan community found something they believed to be unacceptable and made sure the proper authorities were alerted, and did what the could to prevent things from being swept from the publics eye. They were then not pleased with what the authorities were doing once the information was presented to them, and thus proceeded to take the task of punishing the individual under there own terms.