A Nation of Strangers? Stories of friendships found and forged on the Internet appear in headlines every day. These stories may not always have happy endings, but as a recent survey illustrates, there are definite patterns of friendship and community involvement among Internet users. JAMES E. KATZ AND PHILIP ASPDEN R eaders of New York tabloid newspapers may have been shocked earlier this year by a front-page photograph showing a local computer expert being led away in handcuffs, having been arrested on charges of raping a woman he had met via the Internet. But troubles with Internet acquaintances are by no means unique. Stories appear in the news media with disturbing frequency about young boys or girls running away from their homes with adults they met through computer bulletin boards or chat groups. In one of the more bizarre events in America s experience with cyberspace, a Virginia woman met a man through the Internet, and after several dates and visits decided to get married. Only later did the Virginia woman discover that she had actually married another woman who through various ruses had tricked her into believing that she was a he. Consequently she is suing the
Communications of the ACM – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Dec 1, 1997
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