Today on CNN Newsroom

The latest news and information from around the world. Also connect with CNN through social media. We want to hear from you.
May 24th, 2009
12:18 PM ET

Is the internet today's wild west?

We all remember bullies in school and what it meant to be bullied or witness it.

Nasty notes slipped in nap-sacks, whispering, books knocked out of
hands, perhaps a mean threatening scowl. Well like everything, stuff has changed. We’re seeing new examples underscoring it’s far more complicated being a kid these days. Some of the inventions that universally have made all our lives a bit easier to communicate, sadly being used in a big way to ridicule, demean, scare and worse. Which brings us to this topic and question.

Cyber-space is often compared to the wild west. Lawless, rule-less and wide open for anything. Here's a question for you:

Is it time to draw a line on what gets posted on the internet? And if there is a line, how does it get regulated?

Here's the KING story that made us want to tackle this subject:

We’d love to share your responses with everyone on this blog and on the air.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Rickey Hill

    I don't think the internet should be necessarily regulated. But if children are found to be misbehaving, then parents should be held responsible... Maybe start fining parent, then tell will start monitoring online bulling:)

    May 24, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  2. Ike

    It all starts on the way we were raised to be. I don't think it would be any help to have something to be regulated, because some way and some how you will get around it and still bully someone on the internet.

    May 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  3. Derrick Pryor

    I think that if we develop time for patience in kid's, we can find out how they act when they are in their surrounding. Intrest will show that whatever conflict is sturing, can be stoped with communicating and socializing in better way.

    May 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Paula Lauren Gibson

    There is a reason its called the "Lawless Swamp." Aside from censorship issues, the problem with regulation is the regulators. Notwithstanding various "zero tolerance" policies in schools and workplaces, bully is simply condone by non enforcement of the policies. School bullies grow up to be employment bullies, etc.

    The case in which an adult Lori Drew bullied a minor Megan Meier to the point that Megan killed herself shows that its not just limited to kids. We need a culture change that, frankly, might not happen because bullying has become systemic part of our American society.

    May 24, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  5. John R - Springfield, VA

    The internet should not be regulated, and cannot be regulated by an American authority. We don't own the internet, and cannot project our paranoid concerns on ourselves as much as we can on Britons or Russians. Moreover, we have a wonderful amendment to our Constitution that pretty much keeps us safe. Sure, there are other ways of expressing, but it doesn't pose any real danger whatsoever. Supreme Court precedent would show that those little girls making that video had the right to.

    May 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  6. Jonathan Wolf

    Absolutely not! We've already taken away people's right to free speech, whether it be the Patriot Act or simply the "Terroristic Threat" laws in place in many states for people who simply express their discontent with the status quo. Now we're suggesting taking away people's only means of getting things off their chest by controlling the Internet? There is already too much government interference on many scales. Keep the government out of my life and out of my head, I tell you.

    May 24, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  7. Cody Mortell

    Besides the obvious practicality issues that come with regulating the internet, the idea as a whole is a farce. We have a first amendment right to free speech, and the internet is just another venue for doing so. The problem is not the internet, if we want to solve this problem we need to go to the root of the problem and find out what causes kids to think these things about people, and then try and solve it as the source. Regulating the internet would be treating the symptoms and not the disease.

    May 24, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  8. Jack Caceres

    If any line is to be drawn on the Internet, it should only be by the people who allow access to the Internet. No, I don't mean ISPs. I mean parents, administrators, etc. The Internet is the outspoken and free place it is because of the freedom it has. Limiting that is limiting the future potential of the Internet.

    May 24, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  9. Steve Kujawa

    The following is a suggestion to the parents of Piper's classmates who made this hideous video for YouTube.
    BTW, YouTube owes Piper bigtime....hope it turns into a lawsuit!

    Dear Piper's classmates,

    Perhaps your parents haven't had the courage to tell you this, perhaps your teachers are afraid they will offend your freedom to do as you wish, perhaps your friends have no concept of God and God's Word, or perhaps you just don't understand that there are consequences for all of our actions. To make light of killing someone (6 ways) is a serious is WRONG....W-R-O-N-G, WRONG. Killing someone is not funny, it's not a game, it's not a cartoon, it's not a video, it's not art. It's murder and it's wrong.....not inappropriate, not a mistake, not a misunderstanding, it's just plain wrong as in the Fifth Commandment of God: "Thou shalt not kill." (Deuteronomy 5:6–5:21).

    And now, a recommended consequence for your actions:

    1. You will apologize to Piper publicly at school and build a website apologizing to her via the web.
    2. No more computer time this year.
    3. You will raise money to be donated to Child Abuse Protection agencies.
    4. You will present yourselves to your pastor for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) or the appropriate alternative if you are Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, etc.
    5. You will skip vacation this summer and volunteer your time at the charity of Piper's choosing. Forget the IPod this summer, too.
    6. Your parents will attend counseling sessions with you until Piper's parents are satisfied that you and your parents have thoroughly dismissed the concept of "6 ways to kill Piper" out of your system.
    7. See you at Church and Sunday School this exceptions !


    Hope these suggestions reach the right people.....they work well here in the Republic of Texas.

    May 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  10. Ian

    There is already a document which regulates what can happen online. It is the U.S. Constitution. As the Internet is a virtual world everything posted on it is inherently speech as opposed to action. With the 1st Amendment providing for freedom of speech it is clear that there should be no laws abridging speech on the internet which would be unconstitutional if applied to the flesh and blood world.

    There is always a debate about the ability of laws to adjust to new technology. But there should be equal concern that the fear created by not understanding of a new technology will be used to encroach on liberties which we already posses.

    May 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  11. TA

    Instead of regulating the Internet, bad parents should be regulated instead. Raise your child right and maybe they won't threaten to kill other kids.

    May 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  12. Hope

    I agree that something should be done about bullying and the free reign kids seem to have on the internet, but honestly what can be done? With the freedom of speech amendment, how do you tell someone what they can and can't say? The line is so easily crossed while trying to protect one person you violate someone else's rights...I wish that poor little girl the best of luck. I can relate to her and I understand her pain. And the parents of the children who were allowed to post such things should be ashamed of themselves as parents and of there awful children. Teach your kids some discipline and manners!

    May 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  13. Angela

    Absolutely no one should be censoring the internet. This is one of the last free areas of expression that remains unmolested by censorship. How would we decide who would police the internet, and what? IF someone is worried about their kids seeing something innapropriate online, they need to educate their kids about online safety or use software to limit what their kids see online. As for bullying, people need to punish bullies, simply put negative consequences to negative actions will eventually stop negative actions. Its sickening to see adults doing nothing to stop these kids from treating each other like crap and them blaming the internet/music/games ETC when something really bad happens because they were too passive/lazy to care or do something about it.

    May 24, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  14. Lee

    I think the internet should absolutely NOT be censored because of cyber bullies. It's just as idiotic as banning the internet altogether because there are "shock" websites. Yes, it's sick and wrong, but the crimes of few should not dictate the (unnecessary) punishment of many.

    Also, what happened to parents being involved with their kids lives? I mean, don't they pay any attention to what's going on at their school, etc?

    May 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  15. Stephen

    The internet should NOT be regulated.

    They want to regulate the internet because people are wakeing up to what is going on.

    They control what information you see on the tv.

    But they dont control the information that is on the internet.


    May 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  16. James in Hawaii

    Banning and filtering is not the answer. Accountability is. There are already laws on the book; however, we need forward-thinking prosecutors to hold posters accountable.

    90% (a guess) of Internet bloggers and surfers rely on an Internet service to access the net. Service providers have different ways of validating their customers (credit cards and such) so is easy to trace online material to a particular user. It’s not that difficult to haul someone into court when they have posted material that falls into the realm of sedition, criminal conspiracy and treason.

    Freedom of speech allows all of us to say whatever we want, but there are rules of law when that speech goes against the fundamentals of good citizenship. A cartoon tutorial about poisoning a classmate is the same crime as a person who’s caught conspiring to bomb a school. Lives will be taken if this person is not held accountable for their speech.

    May 24, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  17. Needlemyer

    We do not need to draw or regulate any line on what gets posted on the Internet. It is the parents job to monitor what their children are doing at all times, especially when using the Internet. It is the fault of the parent for allowing such a seemingly time consuming video to be created under their roof. This was not a quick Myspace message or a Twitter reply. This video took more than 10 minutes to create and to post to YouTube and more than likely necessitated all five of the girls to be present or in contact via the Internet during its creation. If we limit our freedom of speech due to cases like this, what else will people be willing to limit and prohibit if given the chance to do so? Censorship is not the solution, but perhaps parents taking responsibility for their child's actions are.

    May 24, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  18. joanne

    I wanted to comment on the report of bullying on the internet. I know that this acceptable to an entire generation of young people. I saw this behavior first hand in University students. As these young people were growing up, it was dismissed because the parents did not understand the internet and their access to one and other.
    So no one has stopped them.

    I firmly believe that FACEBOOK and UTube need policing specifically because the ease in which photographs can be displayed and tagged.
    This is dangerous because a picture can be sent around and the person being bullied can be ignored or ridculed by people he or she has not even met yet. People can be told lies about a person and he or she has no defense. Social networks must intervene. FACEBOOK most especially. Friends of Friends can create a lot of problems for an unsuspecting victim. Remember pictures can be taking with a cell phone. Even young adults are too scared of the people perpetraiting this abusive behavior because they know how far reaching it is. You are not likely to get them to stand up. In fact I have seen the best of friends bale out on someone who was being victimized.

    Oh Yeah, about those who were bullying at University, several of them are going into the EDUCATION FACULTY

    May 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Joe Wilson

    Since 1963, when the USA took God out of schools, children are not taught right from wrong – morals. So now, we are reaping what has been sown. Same sex marriages fall in the same category – not being willing to follow God’s morality. These untaught generations place their personal wants and passions ahead of all else. Isn’t that selfishness? Consider that the economic downturn is a result of individuals placing their personal economic gains ahead of truth and justice – another way of saying we are not willing to follow personal economic moral actions. These three problems have the same root – the absence of God.

    Joe Wilson

    May 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  20. Mario Lopez

    Cyberbullying and intended or otherwise criminal behavior in the Internet, 95% of the time is the direct result of our children education at home. As head of the family we have the moral obligation to provide our children not just with a safe, healthy and clean environment, but with our own examples follow by moral teachings of exemplary lives of people who made a difference and define RIGHT AND WRONG. "Do as I say not as I do" or once a week visit to the church, is not enough to protect our children from the overwhelming temptations of modern culture (specially in the Internet). Parents and guardians must become more involved in our children's lives; we cannot longer hide under the "I don't know how to operate a computer, let along surf the Internet" PREVENTION is the mother of all solutions. Let our own children teach us the computer, lets sign up to the same Cybersocial sites and visit the same chat rooms, eventually we will be able to identify any evil and possibly PREVENT any harm or inappropriate behavior involving our or someone Else's children. The Internet, like a big city with its beautiful and fun places, is not stranger to shady areas and dark allies. PARENTS BEWARE!!!

    May 24, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  21. A. Oki

    I wonder if Steve Kujawa understands the irony of quoting such an undeniably contradictory text such as the Bible? I could provide specific quotes, but that should not be necessary.

    The Internet (yes, my spell check demands it be capitalized) is a great medium, however, it should not be viewed as a completely unique medium. For example, what is the difference between me sending death threats to somebody via e-mail, via mail, via the phone, or in person?

    May 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  22. Angela Mitchell

    Families need to get rid of electronics in bedrooms. No more TV, computer or cell phones anywhere but the family room/living room with the parents too. We have allowed children their own apartments in our homes. We cannot allow baby einstein and isolation to raise our children. We need to replace "time out" with "time in" and get our families together and talking again. If those children weren't unsupervised and feeing uncared for they would never have even entertained those thoughts.
    One more thing...a clinical psychologist giving advise on children would best be served in picking another color for clothes and nails than red – the power color. Nuff said!

    May 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  23. Doug Berry

    Internet regulation is nothing more than an attack on free speech.
    Every time someone says or posts something on the internet, that is bad or threatening, then the internet is to blame. It gives the uninvolved people the opportunity to feel like they are fighting crime and protecting us. When actually they are in their comfortable home or office with their starbucks coffee fighting crime with their fingertips and a keyboard. These people are too scared to get involved outside in the real world where real crime happens.
    As for Piper, she's a beautiful little girl and there is probably some jealousy going on at her school. Being bullied is not very nice and the people doing it should be exposed and punished. If there is an adult involved (and I believe there is) then they should go to jail.

    May 24, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  24. Mario Lopez

    Furthermore, like the Wild West, the Internet has taken a lawless and cruel life of its own. Since we failed as a society to deal with bullying, now we are looking to police it; at this point I do not have an appropriate answer on where to draw the line, but I am sure that this will open a debate which will go on for long time before policing measures "that will not work" are taken. Social behavior is embedded in our culture and, for what I see, if we start right now at full throttle, it will take one or more generations for our society to have learn that "order and peace among ourselves can only be achieved by respect of our fellow man's rights"
    Gandhi once said, when asked what he thought about Western Civilization, "it would be a good idea..."

    May 24, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  25. Jared

    who cares about kids who cant handle getting bullied. maybe, just maybe, its because the media makes such a big deal out of it that the kids are now such wimps.

    May 25, 2009 at 3:06 am |