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Revenge can be a dish best served cold, but these days it can also be a dish best served anonymously and electronically. The universality and instant gratification of the Internet has given rise to a form of electronic vengeance known as e-venge. E-venge can take many forms, but commonly it involves the uploading of embarrassing videos or photographs, public exposure on social networks, and/or the dissemination of emails or other incriminating communications.
Using the Internet or other electronic means to get personal revenge is not a new concept, but E-venge have become even easier to achieve with the advent of social networking websites and video hosting services. An embarrassing or humiliating video featuring a cheating spouse, for example, can literally be uploaded to a YouTube-style hosting site within minutes. A mass email detailing a person's unethical behavior can be composed and sent directly to hundreds of Internet subscribers instantly.
E-venge can be motivated by real world events, as in the case of a cheating spouse or abusive boss, or it can be triggered by online encounters with cyberbullies or heated discussions known as flame wars. The main point of many e-venge efforts is to attract public attention to the situation and hopefully exert social pressure on the offender. There are actually entire websites dedicated to the reporting of deadbeat parents or cheating romantic partners.
Although many people may feel like seeking e-venge, the standard rules of engagement still apply. The anonymity provided by many Internet discussion groups or social networks does not always protect posters from legal liability. If a video features a cheating spouse and an identifiable accomplice, for example, that other party may be able to file a lawsuit for invasion of privacy. Slander and libel laws may also apply when it comes to e-venge, so any accusations of wrongdoing must be true and verifiable.
As with many acts of revenge, sometimes the thought is preferable to the action. One of the difficulties with exacting e-venge on a cyberbully or a cheating spouse is the near-permanency of the act. It isn't always easy to unring a bell, and removing electronic materials from further public view may be problematic. Others may make copies of the uploaded videos or emails and continue to post them for years after the fact. While thoughts of e-venge may do wonders for a victim's self-esteem and sense of empowerment, actually committing an act of e-venge should receive careful consideration beforehand.
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