Death Threats on Wikipedia, in Japan

Background: Japan is a perfect example of how the internet’s reach has gone global. One way to measure popularity of the internet is how many websites have been translated to other languages besides English, and Japanese has no shortage of translations in cyberspace. The internet in Japan has become a popular tool for commerce and social networking.

However, Japan is relatively new to abuses of the internet. Although sometimes incidents such as the Akihabara hit and run (06/08) were written about on blogs before the event took place, big websites such as Wikipedia have not seen abuse yet from users. The newspapers each had their own take on the “Wikipedia Incident”, the first documented arrest for abusing the Wikipedia website in Japan.

Asahi “3 Boys Charged with Writing Death Threat Articles” The Asahi reports that on February 26th, three boys went onto Wikipedia and changed the “Buddha” description on Wikipedia to “on March 8th at the Big Site Tokyo Expo, we’ll bring a rifle and kill all the participants.” In response, the boys are reported to have said “we did this like ten times.” Wikipedia has mentioned that this year from January to April they’ve had about 100 articles talking about killings.

How did the boys do it? According to the Asahi, the boys accessed Wikipedia through a server in Germany, hoping not be traced. They reported that the boys are actually quite prolific writers and usually update pages that have to do with video games.

Yomiuri “You’ll all be Killed” The Yomiuri’s depiction of the incident was dramatized for effect. Not only did they highlight this quote in their headline, but they also the charge the boys for death threats “without discrimination”. The Japanese in the article is 無差別殺害予告 , which literally means “in discriminatory prophesized killing.”

The Yomiuri also added that the authorities at the Big Site event increased the security presence in response to the boy’s threats.

Nikkei “3 High Schoolers Arrested in Fukuoka” The Nikkei had a very short summarized article about the incident but they did also outline that the students claimed that “they had written the same type of article at least 10 times on Wikipedia.”

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