2008年12月号 大切なインターネットの匿名性,でもリスクも忘れないで!

この記事を読むのに必要な時間:およそ 8 分

I acknowledge the importance of anonymity on the Internet and support its preservation, but there are some circumstances where anonymity cannot be maintained, or even expected. Take for example the report of Steve Jobs' heart attack. What heart attack, you ask? No, you're quite right, he didn't have one, but someone posted just such a report on CNN's iReport website and it sent the Mac community into fits.

The title of iReport's home page is "Unedited. Unfiltered. News." and their description uses language reminiscent of the bad-old hyperbole-filled dotcom days of the late 1990s: "With this site, we want to share our passion about the news in a way that invites you -- and everyone else -- to share your passion about the news... So head on over the homepage and jump in. Tell your story and see how it connects to someone on the other side of the world -- and build a new kind of news site, one made from communities of shared interests, impassioned discussions and great storytelling."

Storytelling. Well, that much is true. In early October, someone calling himself Johntw posted a message starting this way: "Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable." But it was completely untrue. Nonetheless, it sent mini-shockwaves through the Internet and Apple stock dropped 10%. The problem was not that this person was able to post a false piece of information on a website. Anyone can pay US$10 or even less and set up their own site, and with minimal skill can even make it look attractive. The question is, who would care? No one, really. He would have zero readers and no influence. But in this case, the posting was on a news site affiliated with CNN--not an organization that I have much respect for but certainly one that many people do. And that credibility and visibility lead to this piece of fiction directly impacting people's lives and livelihoods. On the one hand, I treasure the ability to be anonymous. Anonymity is invaluable when a free people begin to be oppressed by their government and they need to criticize it without fear of retaliation, of when a person wants to pass on information to the police or corporate watchdogs without the danger of personal reprisals. However, this was a "news report" of an utter falsehood. There is no defense for such an action. So, the take home point for the rest of us is, as always, be skeptical about what we read. And for the writer, he or she may soon receive some unwelcome visitors. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating if the story was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the stock, and if so then someone will be going to jail.

Another person who may be going to jail is the person accused of breaking into Governor Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account. The son of a Tennessee state representative, Mr. David Kernell is a college student majoring in economics and is accused of using the password reset process to gain access, then taking screenshots of her mail, reading her messages, obtaining phone numbers and other personal information, and so on, and then posting various bits of information to, an imageboard modeled after the Futaba Channel If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (

iPhone Apps

I've been slow to upgrade my iPhone firmware, but 2.2 may have a couple of interesting features. One may be support for emoji (461 of them in the latest beta firmware). Another is Google Street View. Unfortunately, I am having a bit of a hard time filtering through all the iPhone apps. I suppose that is a good problem to have, being far better than having too few choices, but I'd be happier if there were more demo versions. Apple does reject some applications, for example one called "Pull My Finger" which apparently made a vulgar noise and that's about all. Their rejection letter cited "limited utility" which I suppose is true, as far as it goes, but it hardly captures the fact that it was a vulgar joke of an application. Some people expressed outrage at Apple's rejection, but Apple has the right to reject or accept whichever applications it wishes. I myself rather wish that the Music Store had a place for even the stupidly vulgar ones. Label it "Vulgar" or "Juvenile" or "Tasteless" or whatever and make it clear that this category is a catchall. People with a junior high school level of humor will be happy and the rest of us will be able to avoid them more easily.