Ironically, in a recent post “Search or Research,” the dilemma of how and why it is important to differentiate these two steps was analyzed. Little did I know how quickly it would come into play.

Case in point

The subject of internet “trolling” hit the radar in the last couple of weeks. True to the separate steps, I searched just enough to find what I believed to be the issue from just the headlines…specifically, that Arizona had passed a bill in their legislature, and the governor was poised to sign it into law. Some could consider it a scary law.

Had that been absolutely accurate, the rules (initially applied only to AZ) could have altered current participation and the relationship to the internet…part of the proposal read:

It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”

This means any comment, forum post, blog post or other public web spaces where discussions or shared thoughts take place could be held accountable if deemed in violation of the law.”

It was originally stated that the legislature passed House Bill 2549 and it was simply awaiting the governor’s signature, and if found guilty, a violator could be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 25 years in jail and thousands in fines.

Groups such as Media Coalition continued to point out the ambiguity in the law stating, “The communication does not need to be repetitive or even unwanted. There is no requirement that the recipient or subject of the speech actually feel offended, annoyed or scared. Nor does the legislation make clear that the communication must be intended to offend or annoy the reader, the subject or even any specific person.”

In other words, enough to scare the !#$%^* out of you and me.

Drilling down today (the research step), it seems that after a tsunami of backlash directed at the Arizona lawmakers, they are reconsidering their position. But, it is not clear what direction they are taking.

Question: What were/are they thinking (decisioning)?

This one was/is close, but it really points out the vigilance that is now required by all of us…especially those who maintain active sites, blogs and comments in the social media.

Again, search and research…and share.

As always…you decide.