Recently, a new member on posted a request where they were looking for someone to take a picture of a paper sign with some girls name on it and then make it look like a guy in a different photo was holding it.

They said that it was for a prank. The way he explained it was that he and his cousin prank each other back and forth and he wanted to get her back for her last prank, which was to go up to him when he was talking to an attractive girl and act like a rude ex-girlfriend.

What he did was create an account (presumably on Facebook, but could it could be any social site) to pretend to be this guy in the photo, who his cousin finds “hot.” In his act of pretending, she asked for him to hold a sign with her name on it to prove that it is really the guy. Hence the request.

That’s a scary thing to me because while I joke around a lot, especially with my brothers and close friends, that’s the type of thing you read about kids committing suicide over. Is it possibly over dramatic for me to leap to that thought? Perhaps. A person can commit suicide over anything – any perceived slight or insult, no matter how meaningless. If it were to happen in this case, however unlikely that is, reasonably, it wouldn’t really be my fault. Even though, if it were picked up in the press, it is possible that I would be scrutinized.

And yet, I removed the post because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I told the member why. To me, it isn’t worth the risk. I can’t stop the member from doing the prank, which may as well be harmless in the end, but I can stop my community from being involved in it. Interestingly, no one had offered to help the person. One veteran member did reply, suggesting that the member likely wouldn’t receive help with that sort of request, which was kind of cool.

In the end, though, it’s just not something that I can allow and then think that I’m doing a good thing. It’s not something I want to be associated with and it isn’t a risk I want to take, not when I know it is going to be used for that. A lot of people complain about intervention in online social spaces from law enforcement, government, outside forces, etc. But, if you treat your space with care and take responsibility for it, you not only help to avoid such intervention, but prove that it isn’t necessary, not always. Because some people do responsibly manage their spaces.