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The Digital Murder of Your Ex

Posted: 09/20/11 01:30 PM ET

Unless you are a sociopath, or a person with some psychotic inability to control your violent emotions, it is doubtful that you would ever resort to murder to avenge your feelings at the demise of your marriage or relationship. However, a new form of murder has arisen in our digital age, and as long as it is done right, the perpetrator is not charged with any crime. They only have to live with their own conscience, or more aptly, their lack thereof.

Instead of picking up a knife or a gun to seek retribution, people now choose the Internet as their weapon of choice. From a simple rant on YouTube to a custom website, scorned spouses resort not to the courts, but to their computer. There is clearly an increasing trend of estranged or former spouses or exes to digitally "kill" their former love online.

Just a few examples that I have seen: Imagine a husband whose wife was arrested for a crime, and another who had an abortion -- both things that no one except for them had any knowledge. Then, unbeknownst to the wife, the husband surreptitiously obtained her medical or court records, scanned them and posted them online. Or the husband, in need of medicine for which he would be utterly embarrassed for another person to know about, with his former spouse threatening or actually posting photos of his prescription bottles online -- clearly bearing his name in a newly created website photo gallery. How about the spouse that goes to the pharmacy and gets a printout of all of their partners' medicines, scans that and posts it online?

The people that create these vindictive sites and posts don't waste time ranting about it themselves on YouTube -- that's what Android's and iPhone's are for. When they see or observe bad conduct of their spouse, they secretly film it and save it for a rainy day. In their mind, that will make for a better-viewed video -- and will inflict untold embarrassment and pain upon their ex when needed. And unfortunately, unless they have violated some state or federal law in doing so, they will have effectively digitally killed their spouse forever. Because even though the perpetrator may pull down the site or video, there are plenty of websites that enable us to review what was posted, and that content will have probably been saved by others.

There are so many websites online where former partners excoriate their exes that it defies my imagination. And I am not speaking of those videos or sites that simply "air the dirty laundry," but rather those that are the equivalent of the hardcore porn of marital hatred. A hyperlink here to some of these sites would probably make for a better article, but frankly, I refuse to directly drive any traffic to these sites. I do not know the people that posted them nor if the content posted by them is true.

I remember a woman fifteen years ago that paraded around her husband and their young child at an airport, holding poster board signs (like a striking worker in a picket line) telling all who could see how horrible a father he was. A terrible experience for the father, but he got on the plane and left. He did not worry about what the people in the terminal thought, because they were gone. The wife's psychotic protest would not live on the Internet forever.

Today, that same woman would likely be posting some horrific content on line. She might create a website in the father's name like www.(insert ex's name).com or www.horribledad.com (I looked today and the latter domain name is available if you are twisted enough to want to grab it). As long as that woman did not libel or slander the father, or violate some other state or federal law, it is very doubtful that a court would do anything. Some courts have exercised restraint and consequences over this type of material when children are involved; but if there are no children, many courts will not even touch it.

The present rash of advertised services on satellite radio and websites that suggest they can minimize damaging web content is not the answer. First, they don't remove content, they just make it harder to find. Second, unless you are a celebrity with a common law or federal trademark over your name, it is difficult to control domain names or Internet content through federal courts or international organizations. This is an emerging area that requires new laws and judicial intervention.

I believe in the First Amendment, but I do not believe in intentionally destroying lives. Former or even present spouses can be vicious and many will digitally kill their ex. I think it is despicable, but I doubt that it matters to those who have or will do it.

 
 
 

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