Justice, Internet Style

Oh, Internet. You rock sometimes, you really do. Every so often there’s a seemingly innocuous event on a forum that takes a bit of a twist and then turns into a runaway train of goodness. If you’re lucky enough to be around at the time then it’s like being in an interactive episode of the best soap opera ever.

There was a great one a few years back on the day of the 7 July bombings in London, a month or so after a forum poster named ‘Fanboy’ had been suspected of diddling a couple of other forum members out of money for Sony PSP handhelds while he was working out in Canada. He had been sent money for the consoles and claimed to have sent the goods, but they never arrived. Very suspicious. At the time he was acting all innocent, insisting via private message to interested parties that he couldn’t sort the situation out just yet because his mother had recently died and he had to help to arrange her funeral. What do you say to that? It’s the ultimate get-out clause.

The twist came during the bombings, when forum posters were discussing the events as they unfolded. Those who lived in London were particularly shocked, many of them urgently seeking information. Fanboy popped up to say that he had a relative who always took one of the affected Tube lines in the morning, and that he was really worried because he hadn’t heard from her. The relative? HIS MOTHER. His… er… supposedly already dead mother!

When I spotted this disparity, I quickly relayed it to those who had been told his previous sob story and, fuelled by a sense of righteous indignation, outed the lying cretin in public as the criminal little thieving toerag that he is. “Two mums Fanboy” instantly became notorious. It turned out that his mother wasn’t dead and was also absolutely nowhere near the London bombings. Internet justice has no mercy. Shamed into submission, he has never been seen since.

In the intervening years, Internet justice has taken care of many other rogues, including uncovering the truth behind nefarious account hacking and other porky pies, but today I found out about the newest scandal, on the Ateaseweb Radiohead message board. Unfortunately I only caught on well after the denouement, with the virtual hangman’s noose already having done its job, but it reminded me of how a tissue of lies can so quickly unravel.

Here’s a taster: it involves someone pretending to have had a relationship with a girl whose photos he posts in a show of false bravado, more lies than Alistair Campbell could shake a stick at, an absolutely fabulous uh-oh moment for the guy as the girl in question actually shows up on the forum to reveal that he’s been stalking her for months by text and she’s never been out with him, and the revelation of one particular text from him containing the killer – soon to be endlessly quoted – line:“im no badass. just some…idk hopeless romantic that used to be in an indie band.”

Watching the guy sink ever deeper as he increasingly blusters and attempts to cover his own tracks, digging himself more and more of a hole with each new contradictory story and excuse, is marvellous to behold, and it all ends in brilliant style with a full confession and an unfulfilled request to the admins from the man himself to delete his forum account entirely.

That’s justice, Internet style.

The link to the thread is here, but you’ll have to register for a forum account before you can read it. The guy you need to watch out for is ‘matthewjames90’ – he’s edited his first few posts, but they’re all quoted by others in the body of the thread for the world to see. Shit starts to get real on page 5 when the object of his desire appears. It’s a never-ending barrel of laughs from there. Enjoy! And beware – don’t ever try to fool the Internet. It WILL find out…

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