When reading the headline “Today Tumblr Was Hacked to Spam Users with Racist Posts," my first thought was – oohh scary. The initial problem with reading about this hack was the initial lack of interest in the racists post themselves. Let’s be honest, when reading these headlines we worry more about protecting our own accounts than about the racist posts themselves.
The Gay Nigger Association of America (GNAA) claimed responsibility for the hack and has been behind a number of other high profile hacks. (The group says the name is not meant to be racist or homophobic.) With the continuing visibility of hacktivism movements, this isn’t the last time something like this is going to happen. Furthermore, with hacktivism, people tend to immediately focus on protecting their own accounts rather than looking at the reason for the hack itself and miss the point. According to The Guardian, a statement released by GNAA states that this hack was part of their “anti-blogging campaign” which protests blogging as lowering journalistic standards. They have a point, mostly.
Blogging does contribute to the lowering of journalistic standards. Anyone with internet access can post whatever they want, which is both awesome and awful. The result is, to quote a statement by GNAA spokesman, Leon Kaiser, “lowering journalistic standards to the point where the number of friends a murderer has on Facebook has become news.” Is this a problem? Sure.
Those that care more about great journalism as access to relevant and worldly news are constantly bombarded with superfluous images and stories. Where is the solution? It is found in the problem, blogging. This is why the internet and blogging is both awesome and awful. Blogging and social media allow us to have access to news 24 hours a day. People who are on the ground, experiencing what we would see on our news homepage or on our favorite nightly news show, have the ability to keep us in the loop and let us know exactly what is going on.
Ordinary people have the opportunity to share details, images, and footage that not only inform the public, but also gives journalists better information. The people on the ground, involved in the action, have more access than a journalist can often achieve. This is why blogging is the bane and boon.
As for the racist posts, anyone with internet access can post whatever they want and this means that there will be racist comments, images, and posts everywhere. However, the problem shouldn’t be with the posting of racist comments. Yes they are wrong, and yes racism is a huge problem, but, ultimately people have the freedom to express themselves. Where do we draw the line? A good place to start, for those in the U.S., would be ananalysis of the First Amendment. Speech crosses the line when it, among other things, condones illegal behavior and incites violence. When racist speech crosses that line, that’s when people really need to worry. Otherwise, racists can continue to post their thoughts and other can continue to respond. Bane and boon people, bane and boon.