Saturday, June 7, 2008

Internet 'snipers' face backlash

I'm delighted to read that two Internet 'snipers' - people who denigrate, sneer at and seek to tear down others behind the veil of anonymous posting - are now in hot water over their actions.

In the murky world of internet blogging, "the Hack" and "Caz" were names to be reckoned with. They ran The Spin Starts Here, a website notorious for lampooning fame-hungry celebrities and duplicitous politicians.

It began as a way to take a pop at those in public life, but soon descended into vicious backbiting between bloggers.

And the most vicious were Caz and the Hack. Protected by anonymity, they would aim broadsides at anyone they wanted to. Those who disagreed with them could expect swift retribution.

When a blogger started a petition to have the site removed, the Hack replied: "Do f--k off and die, vermin."

Others who posted on the site anonymously had their identities bandied around the internet, allegedly often with their home addresses and details of employment.

But when they came close to being identified by one of their targets, Caz and the Hack withdrew from the site.

Recently they have tried to delete all the postings they made and even requested the National Archives of Australia to remove the site's pages from the public domain.

Despite these efforts to protect their identity and remove any offensive material, their cover was blown last week. The Hack was revealed as Jamie Duncan, a journalist with Australian Associated Press in Melbourne; Caz was named as his partner, Caroline Hamilton, a media adviser to Parks Victoria.

Both have refused to speak to the media, but a website entitled The Lulz Start Here has been devoted to "outing" them and recalling their most scathing blogs.

It tells readers: "The Hack and Caz are two gutless morose cowards and internet standover merchants who have spent the past four or five years tormenting and harassing numerous other people they've never met, purely out of spite and jealousy, from behind the shield of their own closely guarded anonymity; a point they love to gloat about."

The result has been full-scale blogger war.

Responding to the website, Mr Duncan and Ms Hamilton went to court for an interim intervention order against Bill Dennis, a blogger they suspected was responsible. The couple, who live in Eltham, alleged Mr Dennis was "stalking" them through the site.

To barrister Jeremy Sear, once a target for the Hack and Caz, such a complaint smacked of hypocrisy: "They were particularly vile in the way they treated anybody who disagreed with them or they took a dislike to," he says.

"It's almost funny that they've reacted so badly being 'outed', as this was something they regularly took part in with others."

Mr Dennis was due to appear in the Heidelberg Magistrate's Court next Tuesday to hear Mr Duncan give evidence against him. But it now appears that the pair have dropped their case.

"I think it's probably a smart legal decision," Mr Sear said.

"To have the interim order made permanent they would have needed to give evidence and allowed themselves to be cross-examined. They would have been quizzed about their own blogging activities and therefore have to admit to being the Hack and Caz — or perjure themselves by denying it."

I've never understood the desire by some Internet denizens to destroy the reputation of others. I've been the victim of a couple of minor efforts myself, and I know a number of other bloggers who've suffered similar problems. What is it that motivates such people? What makes them so petty, so full of themselves, that they can't stand to see others gain a deserved reputation for honesty, or wisdom, or other positive attributes, without seeking to tear them down?

In this case, it looks like justice has been done. Well done to those involved!


No comments: