Research into virtual vandalism
Terrestrial forms of vandalism are material crimes because they have a physical presence. Conversely acts of online vandalism have no tangible element, making them immaterial. Although the defacement inflicted by a hacker on a website is visual, there is actually no physical damage – and repairing the damage done usually involves nothing more than downloading the original file of computer code to replace the corrupted one. The effects of online vandalism, however, are said to be disproportionate because the damage to either corporate or political reputation can be substantial.
In his academic article describing the virtual ethnography of vandalism in a 3D Internet-based community, Williams writes:
Commonly online vandalism has been understood to mean the defacement or destruction of commercial, government or personal websites. This is a rather parochial understanding of the phenomenon which marginalises other more esoteric, but nonetheless prevalent, acts of virtual property destruction. Most notably, unique forms of online vandalism exist within graphical online communities, where virtual buildings, homes and memorials are often defaced and even destroyed.
Dr. Matthew Williams' work shows how much things have changed in the last 30 years since Professor Cohen first published his research.
- Vandalism on Wikipedia
- Vandalism of wikis
- Griefing, the harassment of other players in a video game, which may include forms of virtual vandalism
- Kill stealing
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