It looks like quite a few gamers in South Korea have figured out a way to turn trolling into a money-making scheme, using games like League of Legends and some pretty strict laws to blackmail other players.
Kotaku recently reported on the story that popped up in the South Korean newspaper, Hankook Ilbo. According to the original article, some unsavory gamers are taking advantage of the law to earn money off of folks they goad into getting salty in an online gaming session.
Here in the States, it’s (sadly) not uncommon to hear folks say some truly horrible stuff online. From shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield to sports games like Madden or strategy games like League of Legends, some gamers won’t hesitate to call their opponents names, throw around racial slurs or other offensive language.
In South Korea, that kind of behavior can earn you up to three years in jail or fines of up to $20,000. Those are pretty strict penalties and of course most folks would like to avoid such a lofty punishment.
To take advantage of that situation, these folks who are now being called “settlement money hunters” will go into a game, make sure they drop plenty of personal information to give angry gamers some fodder and a clear target, then proceed to play so badly that they goad their teammates or opponents into saying something heinous enough to warrant legal action. Once they’ve collected some screenshots, they present their case to the authorities, who then do a bit of digital sleuthing to locate the responsible party.
Once that’s done, the settlement hunter lives up to their name, typically agreeing to accept a payment between $300 to $2,000, according to the Hankook Ilbo story, in order to settle without further legal action.
This has apparently become a pretty big problem in the country, with 8,488 cases of online defamation reported from January to July of this year alone. Probably not too shocking to people who have played the game, but about half of all of these reports are tied to League of Legends.
In order to combat this, South Korean authorities are attempting to implement new measures that will help weed out the bogus cases. If the person being accused was clearly goaded into defaming the accuser, or if the accuser makes a large number of reports, they can be turned down or arrested depending on the severity of their own crimes.
This is one of those tricky stories where it’s hard to find a party to root for. Even if someone is “asking for it,” the type of internet abuse we’re talking about here is never okay in my book. Then again, people who try to make money off of tricking other people into being terrible are also basically the worst. We would, of course, welcome your opinions in the comments section below.