As the Internet has become routinized, commenting on posts on the Internet has become a new means of expression. Comments have become a culture since the Internet makes us able to communicate in both directions and to express opinions no matter when or where. Comments also have contributed to the promotion of freedom of expression online. On the other hand, malicious comments and the consequent damages continue to occur recently, so malicious comment is becoming a social problem.
A malicious comment refers to a comment with malicious abuse or slander regarding postings on the internet. The malicious comment lacks logic and contains personal attacks such as abusive language. Malicious comment on the Internet is not only a problem in Korea, but also in foreign countries such as U.S. and Germany. However, serious problems often arise in Korea due to the severity of personal attacks. Recently, a celebrity, who was suffering from malicious comments, has taken her own life. Thereby, public criticism of malicious comments is mounting rapidly. As a result, a bill for banning malicious comments was proposed to the National Assembly. A few years ago, Crime of Cyber Defamation was introduced in the Information and Communication Network Act when several people commit suicide due to the malicious comments. Nevertheless, according to statistics from the National Police Agency, the number of cases caused by cyber defamation and contempt in 2018, nearly doubled to 15,926, compared with 8,800 in 2014.
Online comments are freely written through Internet bulletin boards. Therefore, by using abusive language or personal offensive expressions to a specific person through Internet bulletin boards, they infringe on personality by inflicting defamation. The act of offending a certain person and hiding oneself behind the anonymity of Internet space can cause both mental and property damage.
Lots of the malicious comments are mainly focused on celebrities. With the development of the information society, Social Networking Services (SNS) have become more common, and entertainers actively use SNS. The majority of celebrities use it to communicate with fans and sometimes for their own promotion, which makes it easy for them to be attacked by malicious commenters.
As time goes by, malicious comments have gone beyond social-famous celebrities, sports players, politicians, and so on, regardless of the target. A number of people are suffering from personal attacks such as degrading their appearance, sexual harassment or personal information loss and the distribution of malicious rumors on their SNS. Considering these situations, public opinion is gaining traction over the introduction of the real-name Internet system. The more malicious comments become a social problem, the more damage cyber culture will gain.
Even after the introduction of the Crime of Cyber Defamation, a number of bills that tightened sanctions were sent to the National Assembly due to continued damages caused by malicious comments. However, these were only to be scrapped without proper deliberation procedures. The Act on the Prevention of malicious comments proposed at this time allows platform operators to recognize discriminatory and hateful comments. Also, it makes operators to delete them in advance and block the commenter’s IP.
Sanctions to prevent malicious comments should be tightened. Also, one should know that leaving a malicious comment is obviously a criminal act that can inflict enormous damage on the victim and even take away one’s life. In order to recognize that malicious comment is a crime, and to develop a healthy cyber culture, people’s consciousness should change as well.
Kim Sang-kyum firstname.lastname@example.org
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