Basking in the anonymity of the internet is a small group of trolls who are posing as Meredith Kercher’s representatives. They host news and discussion forums regarding her murder, which occurred in Perugia, Italy on November 1, 2007, its investigation, and the trials that followed. At first glance these people seem legitimate, but barely scratch beneath the surface and you’ll see that they define cyberbullying as clearly as the trolls who are under investigation by Scotland Yard in connection with the harassment of Madeline McCann’s parents. They use the same corrosive techniques.
These individuals have been actively cybermobbing comment sections of Facebook, Twitter, various articles and forums for nearly a decade as the trials of Knox and Sollecito drag through the Italian court system.
Using the internet as a propaganda tool, these bullies have elevated harassment to dizzying new heights. The character assassination of the defendants is a poignant example of Mob Rule, and the reason that court systems were created in the first place. The trolls have also expanded their attacks to include the defendant’s families, as well as journalists and social media groups who support them.
A Canadian man has been reported dozens of times for making death threats against Knox. How many times does one man have to threaten a life or allude to killing a person before authorities take him seriously?
Twitter plays host to a woman from Seattle who released pictures of herself dressed up as Amanda holding a knife. A man from California brazenly encouraged students at the University of Washington to play a “game” called “Killer on Campus” and tweet pictures of Knox while she was in class so that he could track her movements. The students unknowingly violated campus privacy laws. Another Tweeter openly stated that she wished Sollectio would be raped upon his ‘anticipated’ return to prison.
These are the people to claim to want “justice for Meredith Kercher.”
One US based website, which presents itself as an objective news organization, has produced several hundred articles that present only the prosecution’s arguments while ridiculing and defaming the defendants. The over use of the terms “we” and “our,” which punctuate all of the work therein, alludes that the contributors are in collusion regarding the content, which is as far away from “objective” as it is possible to get.
A discussion forum, also based in the US, shows members spending hours upon hours libeling the defendants and their support community while their “Projects for Meredith” file sits empty year after year. Their members are the source of many outrageous lies or malicious embellishments that have made it from the comment sections into the media where the mythology they created clouds the facts of the case.
I witnessed this forum and the news website organize campaigns to contact media representatives in order to influence interviews with both defendants after their release from prison. Case in point was Sollecito’s interview with Katie Couric in 2012 where she actually used one of the questions listed on their website. They also brazenly contact employers of Knox and Sollecito’s support community trying to get them fired. They were successful in this endeavor once, but the victim won a lawsuit against his former employer for wrongful termination.
The facts of the case are simple; Kercher was killed by a local burglar, Rudy Guede, when she walked in on a crime-in-progress. But because of a quirk in the Italian legal system, only the prosecution was allowed to present evidence to the court. The defense was not only denied Due Process, but also access to evidence and has operated at a deficit this entire time.
Thanks to the very effective smear campaign, much of the public has no idea that Kercher’s real killer has been in prison all these years and that he is scheduled for work release in the near future.
The self-proclaimed Pro-Kercher cyberbullies have taken full advantage of the one-sided story that began when the Perugian police leaked selected information to the local reporters. I don’t think even the Perugian authorities had any inkling just far these lies would spread on the internet, but there isn’t enough spray paint in the world to cover this offensive graffiti. I hope one day legislation will allow victims to scrub spurious comments from virtual walls everywhere.
I hope Scotland Yard and the FBI will work together to protect average people from this frightening phenomenon.