Take Wikipedia, “the online encyclopedia,” to which all may contribute knowledge, research, opinions, or insights, whether real, imagined, intentionally misrepresentative, or just skewed. Judge a current celebrity based on a Wikipedia page about him and you’re likely to find a portrait of a philandering scandal-monger, even though in real life he is wholly dedicated to his career and is only as flawed in his personal life as any of the rest of us might be.
To offer an analogy with the Google Maps incident, on the Internet the “real-life” borders have been moved, and there will have to be a major international incident before anyone does anything about it. Present trash drawn from Wikipedia without sourcing it back to the garbage can from which you pulled it, and you risk a legal battle.
Another way to start a personal war is to take information drawn from people’s FaceBook pages as factual. I have had fun on that site changing my hometown from “Vancouver, BC” to “Papua, New Guinea” to “Mecca” to that place where the volcano erupted in Iceland. Similarly, I have been “engaged,” “married,” and “widowed,” all within the span of just two or three days—by comparison, Bluebeard was a rank amateur. People who represent themselves as “single” on FaceBook are likely to be married in real life. The disconnect between online and offline (real) relationships can be so drastic and jarring that some people have committed murder or suicide over some of these deceptions. Clearly some people take them seriously—too seriously.
Finally, you could start a war by taking to heart the infinitely proliferating anonymous opinions posted on the Internet. The escalation of emotional investment usually works like this: “Mickey Mouse” comments on an article on a website to which “Donald Duck” objects. “Mickey” and “Donald” start off having a tiff, which heightens to the point at which threats on each other’s lives, families, and so forth, follow rapidly. “Mickey” threatens to rip off “Donald’s” mask. A blog is then created, dedicated solely to how much of a jerk “Donald” is. “Donald” calls the cops and demands INTERPOL involvement. “Mickey” replies: “C U at The Hague LOL.”
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