If you haven't yet seen the video of a girl in a red hoodie throwing live puppies into a river, you haven't missed much. Just arrant cruelty delivered with a youthful smile and the question: "Can they swim?"
However, just as with the English lady who threw a cat into a bin for 15 hours, the Web has been like a detective show in constant motion, ruthlessly seeking out the perpetrator in preparation for a conviction.
On Tuesday, members of 4Chan and, it seemed, anyone else with a large conscience and a small amount to do with their day, offered clues as to the girl's identity.
On Wednesday, a video of apology appeared on YouTube, purporting to be from the girl in the video.
Using just one still frame from the video, the apology reads: "My name is Katja Puschnik and I would like to appologize [sic] for my behavior. The puppies belong to my grandma and she told me to get rid off them because they were only 3 days and they were ill. They had parasites from their mother. I didn't knew [sic] exactly what to do so I thrown [sic] them in the river because it was a short death. I did not want to make them suffer. I am really sorry for this:("
There is no way of knowing whether this video is genuine. Or whether someone is trying to set up Puschnik for Web ridicule or worse.
But, if anything, the outpouring of hate towards her hovers somewhere between the uncontrolled and the uncontrollable. At the time of writing, there is a still-active Facebook group called "Kill the Puppy-Throwing Girl."
Some on the Web are beginning to appreciate just how much power they possess in threatening the lives of those who might be guilty--or just might not be. The Web makes it so easy to accuse and so hard to retract. And the definition of a crime becomes "anything of which I don't approve."
This post on Reddit (NSFW), for example, asks people to think about that power. It offers that "Internet lynch mob s***" can harness an extreme negative force, one that might be entirely misplaced.
What's the chance now of Puschnik (who is reported to live in Germany) or--if it isn't, in fact, her--the real perpetrator, suffering physical harm because a resourceful group on the Web has tracked her down?