Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trial by Facebook - Dangerous Trends

Original Article

This kind of stuff happens all the time, and not just on Facebook. Facebook pretty much condones vigilantism. We've seen many photos, comments, etc, and flagged them, and we get a note back from Facebook that it wasn't removed because it doesn't violate their Terms of Service, which is a crock!


We’ve seen it a lot lately. Posts identifying “guilty” individuals imploring others to identify, condemn, even exact revenge, on the people identified.

It’s called Trial by Facebook, or Trial by Social Media and it involves the posting of content on Facebook or other social media that identifies and condemns individuals allegedly guilty of a crime and implores others to share the content, thus exposing the accused to an angry public.

Such content goes further than to simply lay out the facts of an incident. Trial by Social Media/Facebook content condemns and judges, often unfairly or without proof. And it is for that reason it is potentially dangerous and unjust. Such posts play judge, jury and executioner.

Trial by Facebook content will often explicitly condone vigilante justice, but even if it does not then it will always – to some extent – encourage it implicitly.

Resisting this type of behaviour can often be difficult. Often the people identified in the photos could arguably deserve being shamed in public arena, and users may feel the victims of crimes deserve to see it happen.

Often Trial by Facebook/Social Media posts result from knee-jerk and impassioned reactions where we become the unwitting victims of our own emotions, only seeing what makes up feel better in the short term rather than looking at the big picture.

However we live in a world with legal justice systems, and whether you agree or disagree with your legal system or with a specific sentence handed out, there is still never a place in any civilised world for vigilante justice. And vigilante justice is exactly what Trial by Facebook promotes and encourages.

And if that isn’t reason enough to stop you posting Trial by Social Media content, then here is a whole bunch of other reasons.

Inaccurate Content? Trial by Social media posts can often accumulate thousands, even hundreds of thousands of shares. And sadly the vast majority of people who share this type of content will do so without any verification or proof that it is accurate.

1 comment :

Eric Knight said...

I'm going to ask a very stupid question.

Why has Facebook itself not been sued for any infractions from its members? The business model itself leads to vigilante activity. I contend that this is different than the phone or postal industries because there are so many safety options that can be administered. In short, first amendment protections does not apply here, as the medium for harassment greatly assists the harasser, creating far greater problems for the harassed.