German high-jumper Ariane Friedrich (pictured here sporting an especially tough expression) does not fuck around, which is both why she's currently training for the 2012 Olympics and why she wasted no time posting the full name of a man who emailed her a "sexually explicit photo," probably of his gross balls.
Friedrich decided to post the emailer's full name, hometown, and excerpts from his message on Facebook, along with the explanation, "It's time to act, it's time to defend myself. And that's what I'm doing. No more and no less." While many people have lauded the 28-year-old's direct response to an email harasser, Germany has strict data laws protecting the unchecked dissemination of personal information, a fact that has prompted some heated debate about the moral and legal consequences of Friedrich's Facebook call-out.
For starters, critics say Friedrich can't be sure if her stalker used his real name in the email, which means that some blameless guy could could be sullenly washing hateful graffiti off of his car windows even as the real offender is enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in Dusseldorf. Dr. Thilo Weichert, a data privacy law expert in Germany, says that Friedrich's reaction, while completely understandable, may have been too abrupt. Said Weichert,
The reaction of Mrs. Friedrich is of course understandable, but she reacted too fast. It needs to be checked first, if the named person is really the correct one. Anybody can use a wrong name on Facebook.
Most of Friedrich's critics have cited a recent incident in which an accusatory Facebook post incited a mob in Northern Germany to turn against a 17-year-old boy police had arrested for questioning in the murder of an 11-year-old girl. Though the boy was declared innocent and released from police custody, public furor had risen to such a high pitch that he and his family were forced to relocate to an undisclosed location.
Friedrich isn't your average civilian Olympian either — she's a cop, an officer of the law, a fact that some people think ought to stop her from bandying about sensitive information, like a creepy email some creepity creepy creeping creep sent her in a fever of onanistic passion. Friedrich did, in fact, file a legal complaint against the emailer, but it seems like she already has all the justification she needs for sharing information that was freely sent to her with as wide an audience as she wants because, when you really think about it, her harasser was asking for it.