Comment 29757

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted March 26, 2009 at 11:54:12

The problem with comboxes and chatrooms is that as the conversation progresses and posters get to know each other as their online identities, the illusion is created that they are simply in someone's livingroom, or maybe at a restaurant table hashing out an issue or even egaging in heated argument. In these circumstances (certainly often fueled by a little wine) people may say all kinds of things impulsively which they would never dream of saying if they were at a podium giving a public address or even writing a letter to the editor-- not out and out defamation, racism etc. but things that are ill-considered or maybe a little over the top. Even Obama made that mistake when he sat on Jay Leno's couch (perhaps he mistook it for Jay Leno's actual couch?) and made his Special Olympics crack, which, theoretically, if it was made by a Canadian in Canada would be prosecutable by the HRC.

We either have to decide these conversations are for all intents and purposes private ones (even though they can be read by anyone) or we have to always treat anything we do online as a public act. For the time being, I always caution my kids that absolutely nothing they do online is private, not even their emails or chats-- even if you use a proxy, the company that sets up the proxy has your original IP, do they not?

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