Paul Levinson focuses a lot on cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying, which I believe are two very serious issues in our fairly new cyber-culture. Another idea that I thought of while brainstorming about the Costs and Consequences of all the New, New Media that we have covered in class so far, is the topic of cyberporn. Specifically child cyberporn.
Here is a breif background of the law, taken directly from USLegal.com :
In the 1990s, lawmakers twice passed legislation targeting child porn online. The first was the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) of 1996, designed both to close loopholes in existing federal child pornography law and address new technological issues by the following:
- Criminalizing the act of knowingly possessing, selling, receiving, sending, or transmitting child pornography via the internet or email.
- Criminalizing so-called “virtual, or morphed” depictions of child pornography, those that appear to involve minors and those created by computer graphics software.
The law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that it was overbroad and would also have hurt artistic expression. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, (2002).
This problem was specifically seen in Second Life. As we all learned in class, you can create Avatars to look however you want. The issue was, in this virtual reality, a user had created an avatar that looked like a child performing sexial acts on an adult avatar. Many people were outraged by this visual atrocity and expected legal action to be taken against this individual. Unfortunately, since the image of the child was not based on an actual, real life person, no legal action could be taken against this man that many felt was just as bad as a pedofile.
While this is an unfortuante consequence of having little control over virtual reality in Social Media, and while it is not a cost that should be taken lightly, what we must conclude in the end is that regardless of the technology or new things introduced into our culture, people will always find ways to abuse social outlets whether is is reality or virtual. I think the benefits of Social Media will greatly outweigh the few moral discrepancies we occasionally encounter on the Internet.