Is it possible that there’s a strong connection between social media and the occurrence of vigilantism in the world?

Let’s face it.  Vigilante justice is nothing new; it’s been around for what seems like forever.  But, are we seeing an increase since the proliferation of social media?  I believe that there is a correlation between the two.  As it becomes easier for us to instantaneously communicate with one another, our reactions to this communication could also become incendiary.

Image result for mob

Social Media Sites

Sites like Facebook, YouTube, etc. are providing a forum for vigilantes to not only talk about their actions but also post videos that will be implicating others online for all to see.  We’re so quick to share a post we’ve seen on Facebook where someone who’s been accused of a crime (falsely or not) is being sought.  I see Facebook as being the leader in this space simply because it has millions of users around the world along with its various vigilante groups.

VICE media is another example of this, specifically their ‘Creep Catchers’ series, which exposes potential predators to its viewers.

One online video is by self-proclaimed vigilante Justin Payne, a construction worker from Toronto.

Justin focuses on shaming predators and I believe is legitimately concerned about the rise in online pedophilia.  He poses as an underage child, luring alleged predators into inappropriate conversations.  He then arranges to meet the supposed predator and exposes them with his cameraman and security guard close at hand.  These videos are then posted on YouTube i.e. Age of Consent

Mob Justice vs Rule of Law

The ramifications of this type of activity, without due process, can be severe and varied.  Innocent people can be falsely accused, with the potential to ruin not only their lives but their family members as well.

I believe that a fair society consists of the checks and balances of law.  When you’re in a society that has no respect for the checks and balances of justice and only have a mob mentality, then there’s no opportunity for proof or redemption.  Both of these are a fundamental part of our democratic society.  Trying to police the universe through the realm of social justice may come from a place of true concern.  However, when it’s wrong, the results are ruinous.

Image result for vigilante justice

Rachel Kaser posted a blog on Social Media discussing the consequences of online vigilantism  She sums it up best in her final sentence

“Is exposing or shaming ten naughty people on social media really worth it if it means that even once, the righteous mob made an innocent person’s life worse?”

When reason and presumed innocence is discarded in favour of a vigilante mentality, disaster will surely follow.

This is happening in many areas of social media and must be taken seriously.  Due process and a clear understanding of the implications of social media are necessary to prevent mayhem and extreme and devastating damage – not only to people but to the ideals that are the bedrock of a democratic society.

I always believe that rational thought and proper protocols (legal or social) are there for a reason – to keep us safe among other things.  Social media, which is instantaneous, doesn’t necessarily allow time for rational thought to prevail.

I don’t discount the power of social media to move us to great things, but I do ask:

  • What’s your motivation when you’re on social media?
  • Do you want to become informed? Changed? Improved?
  • Do you want to be part of something that’s sensational, possibly ‘dark?’

Let me know your thoughts.

Facebook Post

Social media being used for mob justice is more common than you think and affects us in all walks of life.

Twitter Post

Vigilantism a global issue exists in various forms @economictimes. #Vigilantism #Justice


  1. Hi Ennesha:

    In one word “wow”. This is truly what happens when social media ex: Facebook and twitter can do. You are absolutely correct when information is misconstrued when it comes to what would be perceived in the question “what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read this?”. I believe people need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture (as you had mentioned above about rational thought). As for one of your questions above, do you want to be part of something sensational possibly dark? I myself see it as an opportunist looking for their 30 seconds of fame. To be recognized for the sake of what? To be famous for being famous!

    I am one that see’s the best in everyone until they do something that instantly turns my opinion to one of distrust. “Bad on me” however vigilante justice is something that yes it should be left to the authorities even if we see that it is not an adequate way since our justice system is behind in its time. Social media has actually opened up so many grey lines that new laws are having to come into effect, unfortunately the damage has been done due to the prolonged process of passing a law.

    Good on you for your three questions on the power of social media!

  2. The truth is that you can be whoever you want on social media. This includes predator and victim. I can appreciate the motivation for Justin’s vigilante approach, since it probably comes from a good place, but in reality vigilanteism doesn’t really solve the problem. Your blog demonstrates a need for greater law enforcement involvement and perhaps more importantly better training and information for children and the adults around them to practice ‘safe internet’ behaviour. I think that this would go a long way to curbing some of the access to these sites by kids.
    Good blog – timely subject for sure.

  3. I think in the times we currently live in, the Internet is evolving too fast for lawmakers to properly regulate it. People want to have a safe, private and secure internet, but they also want it to have laws; however they seem to get very uncomfortable when these laws threaten to take away some of their privacy. I think these online vigilantes are trying to show that they can keep the web a little safer while still keeping it private and secure for people in most cases. I’m interested to hear your opinions on groups like “Anonymous” who are made up of thousands of members and operate based on the things they deem to be right and wrong? Great read from start to finish

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