The police chief of Austin Texas has become annoyed at pseudonymous bloggers and commenters, and plans to investigate, seek search warrants subpoenas, or sue for libel if this asshatery does not stop now.
The chief says:
“A lot of my people feel it is time to take these people on,” Acevedo said. “They understand the damage to the organization, and quite frankly, when people are willfully misleading and lying, they are pretty much cowards anyway because they are doing so under the cloak of anonymity.”
It is suspected that some of the nastiness is coming from departmental employees.
Last month, the chief got a twitter site shut down because it was pretending to be the police.
The situation in Austin is a little confusing because there is more than one thing going on at the same time. Apparently:
1) Allegations, some of which are very likely libelous, are being made.
2) Nasty things that are probably not libelous or otherwise against civil or criminal law are being said.
3) Some of the pseudonyms are “official” looking and seem to be impersonating individual police or departmental units, as in the twitter case.
4) Some of the pseudonyms seem to be combining numbers 1 and 3 … people are using the names of higher ups in the police department to make potentially libelous accusations.
Of course, the fact that there are distinctly different things going on has already been lost on those reporting it. It seems from the reports that this is all about pseudonymous commenters and bloggers, generally, and that they are ruining it for everyone in Austin and are all in deep trouble.
But we should not be surprised at all that the press and consumers of the press conflate these issues. Even some of the top pseudonymous bloggers who are out there busily defending pseudonymousness can’t seem to avoid conflating opinions and statements that people are making, taking any use of the word “pseudonym” as an anti-pseudonymous act regardless of what is actually being said, if the term is uttered by someone they have classified as “against” them. If that is the best those involved in the discussion of pseudonymity can do, we can’t expect much more from the Austin, Texas police, can we?