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.
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 https://www.vice.com/en_ca/topic/creep-catchers, 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJU_LvwL-Kc.
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.
Rachel Kaser posted a blog on Social Media discussing the consequences of online vigilantism http://bit.ly/2iTks59. 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.
Social media being used for mob justice is more common than you think and affects us in all walks of life.
Vigilantism a global issue exists in various forms @economictimes. #Vigilantism #Justice