CYBERHATRED


Dr Fatmir Terziu

CYBERHATRED

Dr Fatmir Terziu


Introduction

Today’s new forms of criminality in cyberspace are growing across Europe and beyond. These forms of criminality seem as ‘cybernetic battlefield’ where the enemy, appears as a picture on the video screen’, because Cyberspace has become one of the most hunted spaces where self-identities are exposing hatred, conflicts and other related behaviour to be classified as a crime among other things (Robins & Webster, 1999:150). According to the Council of Europe the fight with these forms of criminality “can only be won with the necessary tools” and, in particular, “highly effective international co-operation in criminal matters” (Vel, 2007:3). This is the motive why culture secretary of Great Britain calls for “internet code of decency” (Fenton & Tait, 2008:4). It was the reason that pushed the US to undertake a worldwide initiative to fight Cybercrime. The US Department of Justice announced “the Cybercrime Treaty as an important tool in stopping cybercrimes which are being deliberately staged through several countries in order to make the crimes difficult to investigate and stop” (Online: http://www.localtechwire.com/). 38 nations, including 34 European countries, signed the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime in November of 2001. Almost seven years later, the Cybercrime Treaty shambled into effect twirled in controversy. Kevin Robins reminds us that, “it is as if the resurgent nationalism, urban fragmentation – had nothing at all to do with virtual space” and “as if they were happening in a different world”, and as if there is nothing to do with cyberhatred (Robins, 1996:4).

The Free Dictionary classifies hate as “intense animosity or dislike; hatred” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hate).For Toffler it is “breaking the code” by “half-dozen principles” (Toffler, 1981:59). According to Toffler much of the angry conflict in many fields of our life today actually ‘centres on these half-dozen principles, as Second Wave people instinctively apply and defend them and Third Wave people challenge and attack them” (Toffler, 1981:60). The Second Wave was the industrial revolution. Toffler writes: "The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction” (Toffler, Wikipedia online). He uses different words to explain what he calls the Third Wave: the 'high speed' revolution, the post-industrial society. Toffler among some words uses: age, Space Age, Electronic Era, Global Village, scientific-technological revolution, ‘which to various degrees predicted diversity, knowledge-based production’ (Toffler, Wikipedia online).

This presentation aims to discuss how increasing criminality in cyberspace is growing across Europe and beyond. It focuses specifically within the facts in one of the most problematic area for this problem: the Balkan countries. After describing aspects of how and where criminality in cyberspace is shown, the presentation will focus on various dimensions of facts in space. In doing so, a number of theoretical cyberspace facts that can be used as examples to analyse the question of cybercrime will be presented. The relationship between these theoretical cyberspace facts and space users is conceptualised from different angles.

Hatred and conflict: towards heated New Europe?

The Balkan Countries among others seem to be the most problematic. In June 2007 Greek TV Mega publicly showed a sequence where four Greek Police Officers beat up two Albanian immigrants in Greece. Later on, this video was uploaded in video-sharing website YouTube under the title: “Greek Police beat up Albanians” (http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0617/greek.html). This video’s involvement in many online forums, in which it caused a lot of tension between the two sets of Internet users, caused so much trouble that the Greek Government was forced to take action on the police officers involved, by sacking them, and on TV Mega, by fining them a sum of Є100, 000. As a result this video was later removed from YouTube. Furthermore, since five months ago another video has been circulating the cyberspace, claiming to show three Albanian women from Macedonia stealing in a Macedonian shop (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D27an16HxA). The faces of the two women are never shown, but they are dressed in typical clothes that Albanian women living in Macedonian cities wear. This could suggest that the women are actors in a video designed to provoke hatred between two nationalities. Toffler suggests “conflict in society is not only necessary, it is, within limits, desirable” (Toffler, 1981:431). According to Toffler “no civilization spreads without conflict” (1981:96). Furthermore the worst Cyberspace problems in the Balkans are caused between Albanian and Serbian Internet users. Internet users of these two nationalities have experienced Cybercrime problems for a long time, though they were intensified after the problems in Kosovo broke out. Recently though, the problems have become more than national and ethnic problems, they have become cultural: it was recently released in YouTube that the Serbian winning entry for Eurovision 2007 was copied from a previous Albanian song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn0WAvFh9GQ&eurl=http://www.aktuale.dk/89,K%C4%97nga-fituese-Serbe-n%C4%97-Eurovizion,-e-vjedhur-nga-Soni-Malaj-!.html). These problems in the most heated place, as the Balkan is historically known, shows that where only “the technology is new … it seems; there is little that is new or surprising” (Robins, 1996:6). However, all of these problems show that the Cybercrime Treaty is not effective enough to deal with Cybercrime that takes place constantly. So, Cyberspace could be called Cyberhatred. According to Robins “in the new world, old and trusted boundaries – between human and machine, self and other, body and mind, hallucination and reality – are dissolved and deconstructed” (Robins, 1996:8). In similar way Kumar sees “the realization of the cybernetician’s dream: a social organism with a seemingly infinite capacity for orderly growth and development, able to manipulate or adjust itself to every demand of its internal and external environment” (Kumar, 1978:224).

Excluding social character versus imaginary relationships

The net also creates the way of communication with people who are not of the same race, gender class, nationality or locality. The Balkan is a significant place related to this fact. This Europe’s geographical part is historically divided in ethnic groups, who mostly live separated in different countries. Today these groups of people operate ‘together and alone in the digital domain’ (Luke, 2006:164). Most of their opinions and expressions become part of the public view. In fact their shared information in most cases became a debate of divided category of people, who argue with different opinions. The public then continues to be an engaged cyberspace where the imaginary world of these people is placed. If we borrow Blake’s definition of the “public”, it is exactly what he says “public in the context of polite sociability does not mean available to all persons, but available to those men and woman considered to be the “right” kind of people” (Blake, 2003:12). While this concept can be accepted as a definition, in other words it delivers the function of imaginary relationships of these people. In historical contexts this imaginary communication of people is related to what Toffler reminds us “all human groups, from primitive times to today, depend on face-to-face, person-to-person communication” (Toffler, 1981:46). For Jordan people understand these imaginary relationships in the way they believe “that help define collectives” (Jordan, 1999:181). So it leads to what Toffler points out “it would be equally foolish to believe that fundamentally changed material conditions of life leave personality or, more accurately, social character, unaffected” (Toffler, 1981:391). This affection is part of another fact which “occupies” a volume of some kind of “self space” (Wertheim, 2000:249). Wertheim reminds us that “this collective “self-space”, this communal ocean of leaky selves, binds us together as psychological beings” (2000:249). Kumar’s definition of the industrial society is part of this definition as the theoretical component of understanding the distinction of ‘modern society’ (Kumar, 1978:55).Of course were “the domination of the industrial society came to be identified as the distinctive type of modern society, incorporating therefore common features which went well beyond those of a simply economic and technological character” (1978:55).

Divided critics

Particularly, the problems that come from shared information among these groups of people are dividing critics. According to David Bell some critics argue that “these groups do not constitute real communities” (Bell, 2001:97). Bell and Watson emphasise the importance of communication to notions of computer-mediated communities, but Watson has gone further by suggesting that to think “of community as a product not of shared space, but of shared relationships among people” (Watson, 1997:120). With such a definition, the measuring rod for the question of these groups of people hangs on Jordan’s awkward phrase “power continually appears as a possession that individuals have to greater or lesser extent” (Jordan, 1999:88). Furthermore, these arguments are related to the fact that people’s narratives, which are delivered, on cyberspace are mostly as an opinion and information not from a person’s lived experience. These “prosthetic memories” are creating the main problem (Landsberg, 1995:175). They are focusing in patriotic historical convergences to produce such cynical and hate information. Obviously this leads to an uncontrolled space, and the most problematic cybercrime. According to Hille Koskela it is like that because “the guards are mere mediators of power, tired to the same process as the public, simultaneously exercising and being subjected to power” (Koskela, 2001:145). In this argument Carla Brooks Johnston has a point: “A common problem for people and institutions (and cultures) confronted with something new is the failure to leap eagerly into the unknown of dealing with “the different.” It’s risky. One who lives with victors might have to encounter a victim; and while learning to communicate in those circumstances, one risks becoming a victim. The longer people follow the same practices – “business as usual” - the harder it is to change. That which is different requires adjustment, maybe new learning, and certainly a conscious effort to chart a new course” (Johnston, 1998:12). In another way the theory of “the risky” in Hassan’s words is “the segue from ‘digital divide’ to ‘wired world wars’, which for him “is not as obscure as may first appear” (Hassan, 2004:70). It is not in fact a simple conversation or ‘everyday conversation’ which in Nofsinger’s definition is “interpersonal relationships among participants to a conversation” that are ‘regarded as social structures’ (Nofsinger, 1991:162). One of the critics who thinks differently within this debate about the Balkan countries is Chris Hables Gray who in his book Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Ageexplores important relationships of how these conversations in the Internet played a significant role in “the 1996-1997 public protests in Serbia to force the government to install legally elected local officials” (Gray, 2001:45). Gray, however in relation to his fact thinks that “real communities are better than virtual communities, but the Internet and other prosthetic communications can make real communities better” (2001:45). According to Gray the war between the government in Bosnia and Croatia that controlled television and radio and the opposition in these two countries who used the Internet as a weapon for the election sorted out that the Internet was a powerful tool of communication, as “the opposition managed both to coordinate massive protests within the country and to mobilize international support. The only way to shut down the opposition’s communications would have been to arrest every computer (and there are tens of thousands even in Serbia-Macedonia)” (2001:45). Susan Zickmund on her essay Approaching the Radical Other: The Discursive Culture of Cyberhatefinds this problem of hate in cyberspace as ‘complex structures of a shared subversive ideology’ (Zickmund, 1997:185). According to her they are “interpellated,” ‘a phenomenon Althuser defines as the discursive process of evoking a collection of individuals’ (1997:185).

Conclusion:

To sum up in this presentation, I examined the concept of cyberhatred, by discussing some aspects of the culture of cyberspace users. I argued that the provision of space within culture for different cyberspace users, is political, and thus relates to questions of power and propaganda. During my presentation I also explored with the facts and academic support that the politics of cyberspace users has a number of aspects, while the most important aspect is the historical aspect. Due to my further argument I brought to attention what opinions divides researchers in this area of study. I explored that the subject of cyberhatred and the new media has generated a great deal of public and academic debate. Cyberhatred is still problematic in some parts of the world, mostly in the Balkans. To prevent such huge hatred in cyberspace were need strong policy and protection by the governments of these countries, rather than making a propaganda or fiction war on it.

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