As the lives of two Japanese appeared to hang in the balance Thursday, their plight touched off a range of responses on the Internet, with many sniping at them for choosing to go to a war zone and others urging understanding.

A video posted Tuesday by the Islamic State group set a 72-hour deadline to pay $200 million for the lives of journalist Kenji Goto and self-styled security contractor Haruna Yukawa.

"Reckless" and "irresponsible" was the predominant opinion by prominent bloggers and Twitter users, as armchair commentators declared the pair had brought the situation upon themselves. They questioned whether a ransom would be good use of public money.