a Criminology Paper 2012
Section A: Critically discuss the phenomenon of internet/virtual victimization and provide a case study or newspaper/internet article to substantiate your discussion of the topic
Table of Content
- Definition of Key Concepts:
- Types of Internet Victimization:
3.2. Denigration or dissing.
3.3. Bash Boarding.
3.4. Defamation of Character.
3.5. False Accusations.
- An example of Internet Victimization: The Rick Ross Forum
With the arrival and popularization of the internet, we are seeing a new form of Victimization developing, where online personas and hidden identities make it easy for a person or a group to victimize others, simply through the placement and misrepresentation of information, to target an individual or group.
As it is asked in the Study Guide (2004:25), the question is whether those who experience themselves as being victimized in the virtual or online realities, can be seen as victims according to our legal systems?
Recently I had such an experience where an online group focused their attention on myself and a group that I participate with on the Internet. The group that I participate with researches the nature and consciousness of humanity and has supportive tools for people to use, based on the research. The group in question did not agree with our findings and our methods and took it upon themselves to proceed with over 100 pages of internet bullying such as defamation, the creating of rumors, denigration and bash boarding. From there many of the members commenced the bullying on other forums and social network sites. The Consequence of their attacks, was the creation of a negative public image for the organization/group, which directly influences the effective establishment of the group on the Internet, as a support group, due to false allegations. This in turn influences not only the functioning of the group on the internet but their income as well.
In the Assignment I will be explaining terms such as Defamation, False Accusations, Rumor, Flaming, Denigration and Bash Boarding, which exist under the banner of ‘internet victimization’. I will then focus on the group that I have dealt with and why I say that they are creating Victims on the Internet – as an example of how Victimization occurs, together with Screen shots from the forum where the Abuse occurred. I will also briefly discuss how some countries have laws to prevent and prosecute Internet Victimization, while others do not – which in itself allows for individuals/groups to get away with and continue with Internet Victimization. At the end of the assignment I provide an additional case study or newspaper/internet article to substantiate my discussion of the topic (as per the requirements of the assignment).
2. Definition of Key Concepts:
2.1. Internet: according to the Oxford English Dictionary (eleventh Edition) is described as:
“a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.”
For the purpose of this assignment I will describe the internet as:
An interconnected global network which provides and allows people with information and communication services.
2.2. Victimization: the definition of victimization that I will be using, I have drawn from the Study Guide, which is taken from The International Victimology Website (2008), which focuses on victims as defined by the UN Declaration (A/RES/40/34, General Assembly, 29 November 1985):
“persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws, including those proscribing criminal abuse of power…” (Criminology and Security Science 2012:8)
3. Types of Internet Victimization:
According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (New York State Division of Criminal, 2007) Cyber Bullying is committed when information, technology, emails, blogs, instant messages, chat rooms, gaming systems are used repeatedly to harass, threaten or intimidate others. The problem exists in the fact that Internet bullies are often anonymous and can hide behind fake names and personas, which make it easier as the person/group never, have to face their victim.
According to the website, Cyber Bullying comes in various forms, such as:
3.1. Flaming: which would be considered an online fight in which electronic messages are sent that are hostile, mean, angry, insulting or vulgar by nature with the intent of attacking another.
3.2. Denigration or dissing happens when gossip, cruel rumors and unverified statements are published about someone.
3.3 Bash Boarding, are basically online bulletin boards or forums where people are allowed to publish anything, and these comments are usually hateful and malicious.
(New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service, 2007)
In my Research on Internet Victimization I also came across:
3.4. Defamation of Character, which appear to be similar to Denigration above, which is ““the intentional and wrongful publication and communication of words or behavior to a third party which has the effect objectively viewed of injuring a person or entity’s reputation”, as stated by a SNA Associates, which is a South African Law Firm (S.Niselow &Associates, 2012). According to them the internet is now becoming the most common medium for defamation due to its accessibility and the fact that anyone can publish any form of content on the internet, “especially on social network websites” (S.Niselow &Associates, 2012). They claim the following: “The relative ease with which defamatory postings can take place is disproportionate to the ongoing and extensive damage to reputation it causes. We specialize in securing permanent removal of unlawful postings and in obtaining compensation for our clients from the person or entity. responsible.” (S.Niselow &Associates, 2012).
Furthermore Defamation is used where a false statement as claim is made, in which the information is implied to be factual, which then gives the person, group, organization, government an undesirable image. This also includes any reproachful statement, which is published or communicated by one person about another. Such a person who harms the reputation of another may be referred to as a famacide, defamer or slanderer (Wikipedia, 2012).
3.5. False Accusations:
A false accusation would be described as a statement about something or someone which cannot be substantiated and is therefore classified as ‘unsubstantiated’ or ‘unfounded’. Wikipedia provides three Categories of false accusations:
3.5.1. Allegations that are completely incorrect/false in that the events that were claimed to have occurred never did.
3.5.2. Allegations where events that did in fact occur are described, however the accused party mentioned, was not in fact the guilty party.
3.5.3. Allegations where the facts are mixed with falsities – for example where events that did not occur are mentioned together with events that did occur.
Examples of False accusations would be:
False accusations of Rape, False accusations of Cyber stalking, False accusations of workplace bullying, False accusations of stalking, narcissistic rage, psychological projection etc. (Wikipedia, 2012)
3.6. Rumor: is classified as “an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern” Rumors are used in cases for example where one party wants information to be in their favor and to cause another person or group harm politically/personally/financially or to be disfavored in the public eye. (Wikipedia 2012)
4. An example of Internet Victimization: The Rick Ross Forum
As I mentioned in the introductory section, I will be using my own experience of an Inter Victimization to illustrate an example of how Internet Victimization is allowed to happen on various internet platforms such as forums, web sites, social networks etc. The group responsible for Internet Victimization is situated in New Jersey, which is one of the states not covered by Criminal Defamation Laws. This allows such groups to continue victimizing people on the Internet as there are no consequences for their members. I provide screen shots of their Forum, indicating the various types of Internet Victimization as mentioned in .3 above.
(Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation):
“At the federal level, there are no criminal defamation or insult laws in the United States. However, on the state level, 17 states and 2 territories as of 2005 had criminal defamation laws on the books: Colorado (Colorado Revised Statutes, § 18-13-105), Florida (Florida Statutes, § 836.01-836.11), Idaho (Idaho Code, § 18-4801-18-4809), Kansas (Kansas Statute Annotated, §21-4004), Louisiana (Louisiana R.S., 14:47), Michigan (Michigan Compiled Laws, § 750.370), Minnesota (Minnesota Statutes. § 609.765), Montana (Montana Code Annotated, § 13-35-234), New Hampshire (New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated, § 644:11), New Mexico (New Mexico Statute Annotated, §30-11-1), North Carolina (North Carolina General Statutes, § 14-47), North Dakota (North Dakota Century Code, § 12.1-15-01), Oklahoma (Oklahoma Statutes, tit. 27 §§ 771-781), Utah (Utah Code Annotated, § 76-9-404), Virginia (Virginia Code Annotated, § 18.2-417), Washington (Washington Revised Code, 9.58.010), Wisconsin (Wisconsin Statutes, § 942.01), Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Laws, tit. 33, §§ 4101-4104) and Virgin Islands (Virgin Islands Code, Title 14, § 1172).”
The Rick Ross Forum is a ‘Cult Education Forum’, which was founded by Rick Ross, who is a self-proclaimed Cult Expert with no professional backing to what he does and allows on his forums. The Administration and members on the Rick Ross Forum are allowed to participate in Defamation, Slander, Flaming, Denigration, Bash Boarding, False Accusations, Rumor etc.
For background information on Rick Ross: http://darrylthomas.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-cult-of-the-deprogrammer-rick-ross/
As a long standing member of the group being targeted, I know for a fact that this forum and its members have fabricated most of the information placed about the group in question and that they have falsified information, make up malicious content with the purpose of doing the group harm, spread rumors to place the group in a bad light, have taken actual events (true information) and transform it into falsities to suit their needs and made up stories about sexual abuse, child abuse etc.
There are currently no laws protecting those affected by the Internet Victimization in this case. The intention of the Rick Ross forum for example – which would be similar to most cases of Internet Victimization, which is to damage the reputation of the group and as you will see from the follow comments I have taken from their website towards the group in mention, they are deliberate in their malicious words and intention.
The reason why I have included this example is to provide a real life situation in where an Internet Groups is targeting other groups as Internet Victimization.
(taken from http://forum.rickross.com/ – For the period: December 2008 until January 2012)
It is my perspective that Internet Victimization is a very real problem and that laws should be implemented in each country to protect the users of the internet. Many people conduct business on the Internet and therefore develop a Public Profile. For one group to tarnish your Public Profile through misrepresenting the truth, simply because they can is unacceptable, as it means that people suffer real consequences to their income and self-esteem and right to self-expression.
Internet Article to substantiate my discussion of the topic:
- CPT’s Page on Foreign Libel, Slander and Defamation Cases – Hague consequences: 17 recent foreign defamation stories:
- Criminology and Security Sciences, the only Study Guide, 2012. Unisa
- New York State Division of Criminal Justice, 2007, Cyber Bullying [online] Available at <http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/missing/i_safety/cyberbullying.htm> [Accessed on the 23rd of February 2012
- S. Niselow & Associates, 2012. Defamation of Character Law. [online] Available at: < http://www.niselowlaw.co.za/services/law-of-defamation-and-damages/ > [Accessed on 24 February 2012].
- The Rick Ross Forum <http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,62042,page=2>
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2012. Defamation. [online] Available at <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Defamation&oldid=477360313> [Accessed on February 24, 2012].
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2012 ‘False accusations’, [online] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=False_accusations&oldid=476214563> [Accessed 24 February 2012]
Section B: Discuss how victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility play a role in internet victimization
Table of Content
2. How do Victims and Victim experiences differ?
3. How does victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility play
a role in internet victimization?
3.1 Victim Precipitation:
3.4 Youth Internet Victimization
4. Victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility examples
4.1 Victim Precipitation
4.4 Youth Internet Victimization
Within this section of the assignment I will be discussing the difference in experience between Victims and their experiences, how victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility play a role in internet victimization, as well as provide examples of victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility within Internet Victimization
2. How do Victims and Victim experiences differ?
Victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility with regards to Internet Victimization, refer to a potential that crime is not just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that a consideration could rather be that some crime victims are at a higher risk than others. Each Victim’s experience with both the crime, and criminal justice system differs, based on the victims personality type as well as the type of crime.
3. How do victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility play a
role in internet victimization?
3.1 Victim Precipitation: this refers to whether the victim was an activate participant in the crime, in which the victim antagonized, angered or baited the perpetrator or Passive participation within which the victim through his/her personal characteristics, was unaware of the role that they were playing, but through hidden factors, caused the perpetrator to feel threatened or attacked. (Victimology, 2012: 31).
3.2 Lifestyle: refers to ones activities during the day, where you go, where you work, hobbies, leisure etc. Potential victimizers monitor the lifestyle of a potential victim, through which they decide if the person will make a suitable target.
3.3 Susceptibility: Examples of characteristics that could make one person more susceptible to being a victim of crime would be the way they act, their behavior, or personal traits. Vulnerable groups, susceptible to crime can include the handicapped, the old, the young, people who are under the influence of alcohol, drugs etc.
3.4 Youth Internet Victimization: This links in with Part 1, where I spoke about Internet Victimization. Again here one is looking at the vast amount of information that is shared on the internet and the fact that the internet provides a platform for any person to place any information about another or a group. This opens the door for the youth to be targeted in chat rooms, social networks and forums where there is no or little censorship. Examples of where youths are targeted: sexual solicitation, aggressive sexual solicitation, exposure to pictures of nudity and harassment.
Not only young children are at risk of being targeted on the Internet, but teenagers as well, which is a risk factor many adults/parents do not take into consideration, which in turn creates a “a false sense of security”. (Victimology, 2012: 32).
4. Victim precipitation, lifestyle and susceptibility Examples
4.1. Victim Precipitation: according to the British Journal of Criminology (2012)
a study was conducted to reveal the characteristic of victims within pedophile cases. The study comprised of 64 pedophilia cases, out of which 31 (48-4 per cent) had the following characteristics: visits were made to the offender by the victim by the victims own incentive. In the case of victim precipitation was the following was also found: The offenders had less of a criminal background, “especially in relation to offences against property.” (British Journal of Criminology 2012), had lower intellect than other pedophile offenders and their mental processes had declined due to chronic schizophrenia, different brain processes etc, the victim had often known the offender, offences were in most cases linked to bribery and the victim was found to be in similar situations more than once. (British Journal of Criminology 2012).
4.2. Lifestyle: according to the “Criminal Justice and Behavior” website, a study was conducted to examine the effects of Social Vulnerability and Financial Impulsivity. The study was conducted by Michael D. Reisig, Travis C. Pratt and Kristy Holtfreter. The study aimed to measure whether there was a link between Lifestyle and victims of online fraud. They used telephone surveys in the State of Florida and found through the data collected from a sample of adult internet users, that social groups vulnerable to Internet Fraud were: lower socioeconomic category consumers and financially impulsive respondents (when using their credit cards online). According to this study it was found that “Results from the negative binomial models show that consumers with higher risk scores spend significantly less time on the Internet and make fewer purchases from Web sites, yet financially impulsive respondents fail to engage in such risk-reduction strategies.” (Criminal Justice and Behavior 2009).
4.3. Susceptibility: the “Internet Journal of Criminology” presents a paper done by Andrew Newton, University of Huddersfield & Kate Bowers, from the University College London, UK. The paper discussed the case of damage to bus shelters in a single case study in Merseyside (UK). The bus shelter damage was equated to the socio economic environments within which they were situated. Therefore it was found that the bus shelters that were attacked/damaged were found in neighborhoods with high levels of anti-social behavior and violence. Two elements within the bus shelter damage incidents seemed to be “lack of capable guardianship and the presence of youths.” (The Geography of Bus Shelter Damage: The Influence of Crime, Neighbourhood Characteristics and Land-Use, 2012). A correlation was also found between shelter damage and the existence of nearby off-licenses, pubs and clubs.
4.4. Youth Internet Victimization: a survey was conducted for youths between the ages of 10 to 17 to highlight the relationship between youngsters who actively seek pornography and those who are subjected to such images. The following was found: “Twenty five percent of youth had unwanted exposure to sexual pictures on the Internet in the past year, challenging the prevalent assumption that the problem is primarily about young people motivated to actively seek out pornography. Most youth had no negative reactions to their unwanted exposure, but one quarter said they were very or extremely upset, suggesting a priority need for more research on and interventions directed toward such negative effects.” ( The exposure of youth to unwanted sexual material on the internet, 2003)
- Bowers K & Newton A, 2012. The Geography of Bus Shelter Damage: The Influence of Crime, Neighborhood Characteristics and Land-Use [online]. Available at http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/ [Accessed on 28 February 2012]
- Criminology and Security Sciences, the only Study Guide, 2012. Unisa, Pretoria.
- Holtfreter K, Pratt T & Reisig M, 2009. Perceived Risk of Internet Theft Victimization, Examining the Effects of Social Vulnerability and Financial Impulsivity [online]. Available at http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/36/4/369.abstract [Accessed on 28 February 2012].
- Finkelhor D, Mitchell K & Wolak J, 2003. The Exposure Of Youth To Unwanted Sexual Material On The Internet, A National Survey of Risk, Impact, and Prevention [online]. Available at < http://yas.sagepub.com/content/34/3/330.short> [Accessed on 28 February 2012].
- Virkkunen M, 2012. Victim-precipitated pedophilia offences [online]. Available at <http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/2/175.abstract> [Accessed on 28 February 2012]
ONLY PRACTICAL COMMON SENSE COMMENTS WILL BE APPROVED.