I have very little patience for people online who think it is their right to disrupt, harass, and harm others purely because they can. I am talking about griefers: a term that began its life in multi-player games as a name for all the people for whom the primary source of fun was ruining everyone else’s fun. Griefers and their ilk come in all forms, some claiming to have a somewhat valid cause like harassing Scientology, most simply being out and out asshats.
At the root of much of “griefer” behavior is a belief that, if something is possible, it must not only be acceptable, but demand being done. If a game can be twisted to permit one to steal someone else’s virtual possessions, destroy their simulated house, or disrupt their electronic “wedding”, then it must be okay to do so. If a website can be hacked, images of horrific pornography posted, or seizure inducing videos posted, then obviously the website allows it so it should be done. A rallying cry amongst these Junior Psychopaths are terms like “it’s all fake, so who cares?” and “if they didn’t want me to do it, they’d make it more secure.” Purely because they can hide behind the mask of “anonymity”, they think their behavior is both acceptable and encouraged.
Earlier this week some of the most pathetic warts on the buttocks of humanity decided that it would be great fun to cause true physical pain and real harm using the computers their mummsies and dadsies gave them. They logged in to a support forum for sufferers of epilepsy and posted hundreds of messages that led to content intended to induce epileptic seizures.
Apparently these geniuses hail from one of the cesspits of the Internet, the hallowed halls of 4Chan and Anonymous. While some of the things done by denizens of these loose associations can be described equally loosely as “funny” or “creative”, what was done this time demonstrated no real skill, wit, or charm. Instead, what they they did was a form of physical assault with an intent to cause harm to hundreds of individuals. Those misguided individuals who say that the forum was at fault for not “securing” their service appropriately are so incredibly dense and lacking in empathy as to cast doubt on their claims of humanity.
This is not funny, it is not “harmless”, it is not tolerable in any way, shape or form. I would argue that these acts go beyond most incidents of electronic fraud, DoS attacks, or other digital crimes with purely financial impacts. Just like swatting, these so-called pranks can result in real harm, even death, to real people. The instigators of these acts of physical assault should be sought out, their guilt proven, and they should be charged with real crimes that will result in hard jail time.
Updated to add some explanation of the term “griefer” and related behavior