In this digital age, any person can make a post, have the potential to go viral, and have his/her fifteen minutes of fame (pardon the cliché). With more than 1 billion people on Facebook and over 400 million people on Instagram, there is no question social media has the capability of reaching millions of people per second. However, not everyone uses social media with the best intentions.
Recently in the news, Czech model “Christina from Moravia” tried to blackmail NHL player Jaromir Jagr with a scandalous selfie. She threatened to post a after-sex picture if he did not pay her $2000. He said, “I don’t care,” and she released the picture online.
In a separate case, Czech art group Ztohoven replaced the President’s flag at Prague Castle with a large pair of red underpants. On Facebook, they explained they “hoisted a flag for a man [who] was not ashamed of anything.”
People post online in social media sites to get attention and express their opinions. Would you still post on Facebook if no one likes, comments, or shares your content? With the ability to make your words and pictures appear in front of hundreds to millions of people, people are in the perfect position to abuse this power. Christina utilized social media for blackmail and Ztohoven used social media to showcase their misdemeanor.
Image courtesy of Flickr user mkhmarketing
My question is whether there should be limits to our freedom of speech online. In America, we have the First Amendment, and the Czech Republic has freedom of speech and press as well. However, there are restrictions on publications that infringe on individuals’ rights and morality. If all it takes is to have one person download your post to be considered published, then both Christina and Ztohoven are publishers. In my opinion, they have both attempted to damage the reputation of their respective targets without the intention of posting for “public interest.”
To my knowledge and research, Christina and Ztohoven are not in trouble or being sued for defamation. 3 members of Ztohoven, whom placed the underpants, have been arrested. However, they are not charged for posting on social media. Both of these actions can justifiably be deemed as inappropriate uses of social media. There are not many regulations and laws set to protect people on social media because this concept has only been recently magnified, during the past decade, without many precedents.
I think social media is a fantastic platform to reach millions of people to discuss important news and updates. However, using it to promote negative behavior deserves consequences. In 2012, a hacker who leaked nude photos of Scarlett Johansson is jailed for 10 years. I believe more cases, especially cases affiliated with non-public figures, should be reviewed and made as an example for people to stop committing immoral acts on social media. Due to the fact that censorship is forbidden in Czech Republic, this freedom should not be abused.
In my opinion, the consequences for what we say and do offline should be applied online as well. Christina blackmailed Jaromir online and Ztohoven easily publicized their wrongdoing. These actions would not be taken as lightly if they were to happen offline. Internet security and internet laws need to be more defined and enforced in order to prevent users’ free rein to post and spread whatever they want. In addition to enforcement, I think we need to increase cyber-education. Men, women, and children need to understand the repercussions of negative online behavior. Until then, evil Czech models and Czech jokesters will continue to roam freely on our social media sites.
Image Courtesy of Flickr User mkhmarketing
Feature Image Courtesy of Shutterstock User xtock