Interesting article by the Blog Big Think on virtual suicide. Not something I have considered, virtual or otherwise. Although I have said to Ishbel on many an occasion as we have watched programmes or read articles about people who are terminally ill, or who have had an accident and they become incapable of looking after themselves, that that situation for me would be intolerable and that I would just want to die either by having medical care withdrawn or having the plug pulled on life support.
But what was more interesting for me in this article was the sub content that Facebook were trying to bully, through a legal letter, Moddr who are offering people the software to carry out their virtual suicide and destroy all links with the social network sites they are signed into.
The virtual suicide machine launches a series of scripts which Moddr.Net has created which log into various social networking sites and deletes all network contacts. In addition, the script blocks further access to the account by changing the prior password and by not providing the new login credentials to the individual committing virtual suicide.Why then are Facebook so exercised about this programme, well in the words of one executive;
a Facebook executive noted his vision was for everybody on earth to have a Facebook account.As the author of the Big Think Blog goes on to say;
Consider the implications. In effect, Facebook will become the default global citizen database. Those that did not participate would become non-existent in the eyes of the world, an act akin to committing “social suicide” as one researcher in the UK has commented. Advocates and frequent users of Web 2.0 have even commented that they would not trust somebody who did not have a Facebook account.The article goes on to inform us that incitement to commit suicide in the real world, in many countries, is an offence and I can understand the reasons for that. For example, I suppose, where you have someone in a family who holds the purse strings, but for whatever reason has become mentally impaired and rather than kill him or her and run the risk of being caught and sent down for murder, people could be tempted to Chinese whisper that person into killing themselves. Again there is clearly a risk of being caught, but much lesser than if you were to carry out an actual murder. So, it is right and proper that incitement to suicide should be an offence in a socially aware society.
But, is it really right that a company like Facebook threatens a company with dire legal consequences, for providing software to people who might otherwise want to get out of their social networks and with the contacts therein but may not have the willpower to actually do it, without the push. Maybe people like that do exist, and it may be that it could be argued if they are in that position with their 'on-line self and or avatar' then they could be as vulnerable in the real world. But I do not think that Facebook are doing it with any sense of social or moral superiority, do you?
I have a confession here, I confess I do not know why sites like Facebook and Twitter or Linkedin seem to be worth as much as they are quoted to be. They are free to join and they don't charge you once you are a member. I am a spectacle wearer and apparently I am going deaf, my super hero alter ego tag is Mr Fat, but other than all that I think I am in fairly good condition, but don't ask me to undertake a medical as it may dispel my own belief in my own well being; and that wouldn't be good. But the point is and I have just checked my Facebook, Twitter and Pushnote pages and I really don't see any adverts aimed at me or anyone else for that matter. So why are these companies worth so much. Did I just read this week that some Russian oligarch had just invested $300 million dollars in Twitter? Why?
So if Facebook already has 850 million users world wide, why does it matter if a couple of hundred thousand commit mass 'virtual suicide' to rid themselves of their on-line persona.
I know that many are critical of it. I have been in the past and I am sure I will be again in the future. Maybe I am one of those people who might be vulnerable to be pushed into this 'virtual suicide' as it was pressure (gentle as it was) from my peers in the form of my wife and youngest daughter, Jennifer, that 'pushed' me into opening a Facebook account. I also confess here that I am not a habitual user of it. Rather I am a tweeter and while I have tweeted in excess of 2000 tweets a high proportion of them are re-tweets from people I follow who have infinitely more interesting things to say than I have. Or, they are links to Blogs like Big Think or a young chap Callum Jones who is also a blogger and much more eloquent and erudite than I and usually has interesting things to say, even although he is still just a 'spotty' kid(!) who still has to find life in all its glory. And it is my tweets that form the bulk of my posts on Facebook as I discovered that these forums can be linked.
So, is there an underlying threat to us all from Facebook that they will go to these lengths and threats against this company who are giving people the means to clear social media from their lives and to get back to the real world? Have Facebook and Twitter got secret plans to suddenly charge us all a monthly fee to be part of the 'virtual world' and therefore anything that is going to allow us to opt out must be met with a battery of high priced and high profile litigators?
Or is it that we put so much information on these sites that they 'sell that information' to third parties who can then target us through other mediums to purchase their goods and services and is that where these companies are making their money, I have no idea what the reasons are, but it all seems more than a little odd.
Finally, The question was should Virtual Suicide be Outlawed? Answer: I have no idea, but lean towards No. but what do you think?