Posted January. 14, 2009 08:06,
A video file created as user generated content shows ruling Grand National Party floor leader Hong Joon-pyo insulting a person at a restaurant. This video has spread on the Internet. The reality, however, was that dozens of demonstrators who presumably took part in demonstrations against the resumption of U.S. beef imports were cussing at Hong. Had it not been for witnesses, the video clip could have easily victimized Hong in a Web witch hunt. One man who spread false rumors about the death of a female university student in the demonstrations and related pictures through a Web portal has been sentenced to 10 months in prison. Lies and false rumors still thrive in cyberspace, however.
The problem is not limited to the Internet. A total of 1,020 Korean Americans have filed a lawsuit against MBC TVs investigative program "PD Notebook" seeking 1.02 billion won (738,552 dollars) in damages, claiming mental pain from criticism by Americans. The program triggered the demonstrations by airing distorted reports on mad cow disease last year. If Web users spread lies and curses via the Internet while terrestrial broadcasters transmit them by air, putting the entire country on shaky ground, the advent of the media convergence era is a disaster rather than a blessing.
Experts cite confirmation bias, which prompts people to believe only what they want to regardless of the truth. This explains why the media virus of distorted information spread like wildfire while the anti-U.S. beef demonstrations went on. In any case, it is deplorable that the Internet, as the sea of knowledge and information, is being abused as a medium of lies, foul language and division only by the Korean people.
Anti-social forces seek to spread lies and curses and send society into chaos, regardless of whether the online commentator Minerva sought to prevent a financial crisis in Korea. Certain Web users and media outlets also seek to misguide the public as if the truth is being oppressed, even when groundless rumors and lies thrive in the media.
Allowing anyone to create contents defaming people as they please without reservation is unacceptable. Innocent people are falling victim hopelessly in the mean time. If the era of Web 2.0, when anyone can serve as an information creator, takes root as a haven of lies only in Korea, all of Korean society will suffer. We must put in place a system and practice where anyone who causes damage to society with lies and false rumors is brought to justice, regardless of whether the medium is the Internet or others.