Monday, March 16, 2015

PCH Chapter 23

I found the subject matter of PCH chapter 23 particularly interesting because I feel like incarcerated people, especially youth, are often overlooked. I thought the idea of allowing these youth, who have few advocates, the opportunity to express themselves and understand the developments of the digital age to better acclimate them to life outside prison was a very noble undertaking. The researchers encountered countless stumbling blocks, especially regarding privacy, that I believe raise important questions relevant to society as a whole.

One of the main issues the researchers encountered was about the level of anonymity they should have their participants establish in their online work. Despite the fact that many of the youth wanted to share their feelings about their experiences behind bars and reasons they were incarcerated in the first place, they were not discouraged from doing so for privacy reasons. The researchers worried that they might inadvertently share information about their cases that could come back to hurt them in court. My immediate thought links back to the hypothetical situation from a previous reading about the college student anonymously posting libelous comments on a website popular on campus. Because the anonymous student was most likely an adult, any legal action compelling the website to reveal the commenter's identity would probably be justified.

We have recently been reminded of what can happen when something that should not be posted to the internet is, thanks to the brothers of SAE at University of Oklahoma. One of the families of the two expelled students is now in hiding. Other members of the chapter have been subjected to death threats and assaults – and this incident happened with legal adults.

But what happens if someone underage posts something that constitutes grounds for legal action? What is being done to educate the younger members of society – minors who have never known a world without Facebook, Twitter, and the like about the consequences of misbehavior in the digital age? How do we educate the web-literate population as a whole about matters of privacy on the internet? How do we reconcile privacy rights with measures taken in the interest of national security in an age when agents such as the NSA increasingly scrutinize online activity?


  1. I also particularly enjoyed Chapter 23 in PCH. I have been in several classes at Emory that has had some dealings with imprisoned adults, not youths however. In a sociology class we went to death row and toured the GA men's prison. In my Shakespeare class we briefly saw documentaries of men in maximum security prisons doing renditions of Shakespeare's Macbeth. These documentaries went inside the people's personal lives and had some commentary/interviewing about their time in prison/criminal life. Through my personal knowledge of knowing criminals stories, I think it is highly needed for their worlds in and out of prison to be known, and I think social media really helps allow them to get their stories out. Some are inspirational, others tragic, or in need of political attention, but all can serve a purpose to some part of society. Through the use of social media, blog sites, and any internet communication they can allow others a chance to see what they have been through, which can aid in many different ways. Also, I agree that the use and knowledge of social media can help prisoners be reacclimated into society, which is something newly-released prisoners need. Through understanding communication through social media they can find networks to help them and their specific needs, search for jobs, and find knowledge that will otherwise help them push through their current situation.
    The issue of privacy is a major one, despite the above "pros" to the media use of the incarcerated. Though the stories might be helpful, it could be dangerous like Hiro said. I think that this is a very necessary con to think about when posting anything online. Do you want this to be traced back to you?
    In incarcerated youths, media can help them progress out of their troubled ways. Media can do positive things for the delinquents, educating in all ways. The use of media can help them have a better chance of being more equal to their peers.

    The SAE example is a perfect example of a way that social media both was good and bad. Good for the reason that this terrible racism was brought to National Attention, and the members will be punished thanks to the leak. This needs to be known through the nation, to shed light on the fact that racism is very much alive and being bred into people. Bad, because families are getting death threats because of the national attention. There is a fine balance and the peers who have found this issue to be especially troubling have not responded correctly (death threats, etc). Which brings me to the fact that what is released can be taken anyway, given the viewer or consumer. This allows for a big chance of them taking things the wrong way, in extreme, etc. The use of privacy allows some potential problems for posters (not the consumers) to have to worry less about how people will treat them once they publish their opinions.

  2. Chapter 23 was one of my favorite chapters of all of our readings, especially because it brought in some issues outside of outright privacy, such as legality and the question of the Fifth Amendment (even if not directly discussed).

    To address your last paragraph of questions, several of these came up in my business law class, and the number of legal cases involving the internet have inevitable grown, likely exponentially. A number of scholars question whether what is on the internet can be used in a court of law (it can, with certain rules attached), but there is also the question of who governs the internet.

    If someone posts something that constitutes grounds for legal action, there are cases where such individuals have had legal actions taken against them, even if they were not aware they could be getting in trouble, which, though legal, seems to be an issue, because so many youth do not realize how easy it is to trace web postings back to their true identities. So many often believe that what they say "online" can't touch them, but time and time again, courts are using online writings or admissions as proof of wrong-doing. I personally do not think much is being done in terms of educating youth about the consequences of these actions - if anything, I think youth are becoming more and more misguided into believing that their identities are protected online.
    I question then, Whose responsibility is it to teach them? Should they have to learn to navigate this new world alone? Should schools be educating youth on their rights? Is it the government's responsibility to make the law (and how it will certainly be changing to incorporate the online realm) more easily understandable?


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