SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — With the death of 25-year-old singer-actress Sulli, whose legal name is Choi Jin-ri, concerns are spreading over widespread malicious comments on the Internet.
In particular, many people who post insulting messages on the Internet, using embarrassing expressions, are not criminals who usually commit crimes, but ordinary people that we encounter every day.
A police cyber investigator said that most people who post malicious comments are “normal people” who can be seen at school or work without a previous criminal record.
People who make bad comments also regard what they have done in the past as insignificant as they can’t even remember. In other words, there is no perception that writing malicious comments could be a crime.
A former police officer said, “There was one case where a 20-something male student was accused of posting spiteful comments online. But when he was being investigated, he reported that he did not remember posting such comments, saying maybe police made a mistake.”
Compared with the early days of the Internet when it was first introduced, the fact that the development of smartphones and social networking sites (SNS) created an environment that is prone to malicious comments is also cited as one factor that increases the seriousness of the problem.
“These days, people can post comments on news articles or SNS anytime, anywhere because they are actively using smartphones in almost any age group,” another police cyber investigator said.
“Those who have admitted to making such comments are not only young students, but also housewives and older people.”
According to the Korean National Police Agency, 15,926 cases of cyber defamation and humiliation were reported to police last year, up about 19.3 percent from a year earlier.
This year, 10,928 cases were reported in the first eight months.
Experts say that abusers tend to express pent-up emotions from the real world in virtual space.
Prof. Gong Jung-sik, an expert in criminal psychology at Kyonggi University, noted that “those with narrow social relations and unable to release stress in the real world are exploiting anonymity to show passive aggression by using violence against unspecified people.”
In order to reduce the social evils of malicious comments, the system needs to be improved by raising awareness with certain punishment and strengthening filtering of comments, experts have pointed out.
“The best solution is for Internet culture to mature, but it’s not easy,” said Lim Myung-ho, a psychology professor at Dankook University. “At the portal site level, we need to strengthen the filtering of comments.”
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)