Monday, August 19, 2013

Facebook Shaming - the latest rage

Leave it to art to imitate life. Then leave it to life to return the favor in short order. What the hell am I talking about? Let's explore a bit...

I was privileged last night to be interviewed by Scott Laurie of CTV News Channel on a topic I've been calling "Facebook Shaming".

The video can be found here.

During our discussion, we talked about the recent case of a guy in Reno, Nevada who skipped out on a bill at a The Brewer's Cabinet restaurant, only to have a restaurant employee take his picture as he made his escape. Said photo was then posted to the eatery's Facebook page, and the owners filed a police report.

Long story short, the social media masses easily identified him - one Saul Zelaznog. He was already on probation, and as a result was arrested and charged in fairly short order.

On the plus side, social media tools give us the power to right obvious wrongs in cases where, in the past, the perpetrator would have dissolved back into anonymity. Somewhat more darkly, it opens up the potential for vigilante action before all the facts are properly gathered and investigated. Mob rules may make us feel a little better, but what if the mob picks the wrong guy? Or isn't aware of additional, mitigating or countervailing facts?

Social media, meet grey territory.

Cue Facebook today, where the true story of an anonymous letter left on the doorstep of the family of an autistic child in Newcastle, Ontario has touched off a serious discussion over how far social media users can and should go to find whoever sent the letter and bring her to justice. Here's a quick primer on some related resources:
I feel sick for any family to have received such hatred from a cowardly neighbor, and I fear for that cowardly neighbor if the masses learn who she is and where she lives. It's ugly all around, and social media has opened up the gates to a future where the distribution of justice doesn't always take place within the four walls of a courtroom.

I have no answers, as this is an issue that will continue to evolve as the tools become ever more mature and dig more deeply into our day-to-day lives. But I'd sure like to hear your thoughts in the comments section.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

As far as the restaurant incident, I think what they did was a good thing.. If I had fb, I probably would of posted a photo and leave it at that... I believe in karma, so he would of gotten his just deserves sooner or later... The letter, could of been handled better- that is no letter.. Wouldn't it have been better if the person had a convo w/the parent? Or discuss it w/other neighbors and get their input? Lastly, would DCFS have been able to handle it?

Kalei's Best Friend said...

BTW saw your clip and I so agree w/you... Instagram is the worse of all.. My daughter's friends share everything about what they are eating, doing, etc... My daughter even forewarned a friend NOT to tell every little second about where he was or maybe going to... There are too many predators out there!. I remember when my identity was stolen and an officer told me that the internet was one of the worse places... Over sharing is just asking for trouble... and really, does anyone really care what drink their friend is having??? Come on, their lives must be pretty boring if it comes down to sharing such insignificant info!. LOL

darlin said...

Interesting topic Carmi, the good and not so good sides of social media. I believe in justice, but do I believe in flashing personal info all over our social media? I guess it all would depend on what it was. For example: I often see x amount of likes and I'll get this or that, no earn it the good old fashioned way. The dine and dash, good for the restaurant, bad for the dasher but justice was served and handled by the police. Now do I want to know if a repeat sex offender is living in my neighborhood? If there hasn't been any changes in this individuals life then you bet I want to hear about it.

I guess what it boils down to is each individual has their own preference... I don't want my photo circulated on facebook or any other social media so I make wise choices in life. With every action there is a reaction, something to think about when one is in the public's eye view.

One last note, I spotted a cartoon with two women talking... one said to the other something like the girls of today won't know how to cook but they'll be fantastic at taking bathroom shots of themselves when they're older... seriously what's up with self portraits in washrooms? lol


rashbre said...

The shaming stuff can also be a grey area because of its links to cyber bullying.

However, the 'Bunny shaming' and similar sites (pet mishaps) can be amusing.

Its certainly an evolving cyber world.