Social Media, the judge and jury.

Picture from :

We are all human and make mistakes. “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” is regularly quoted after someone makes a mistake. Who among us hasn’t made at least one mistake in life? In fact, there are articles that state mistakes are good because by making a mistake you learn and grow. You can read one of those articles hereHowever, in the modern world of social media there is no room for mistakes. On social media there are no second chances, one mistake can actually ruin your life. An example of this is the Justine Sacco story. For those who are unfamiliar with her story you can watch Jon Ronson’s video here for the full story.

The quick summary is that Justine wrote one tweet to her 177 followers, and that one tweet completely destroyed her life. She lost her job and was threatened world wide for her post. All of this happened while she was on an international flight, so she wasn’t able explain her post or defend herself. Justine was destroyed before she even knew it was happening.  

Picture from:

If you make the biggest mistake you can in our society, normally called committing a crime,  we have a system that dictates you are innocent until proven guilty. Before your conviction you get to present the facts of your case including the history, and the context before a verdict is made.

On social media however, the moment that a post is made the “jury” of followers begin the judgement. In Justine’s case people started skewing the facts against her without any evidence.  Someone commented that she came from a rich family, and that is why she was so entitled. This was not true, but the other members of the “jury” took it as truth.

Picture from:

Justine’s story isn’t the only case of this happening. There are several other stories of people who had their lives ruined because of what they posted on social media. You can find some of their stories here.  I’m not trying to say that all of these people were innocent or that their actions were good. However, shouldn’t we be allowed make mistakes, even on social media? No one is perfect, jokes fail, particularly on a platform where tone can’t be interpreted. Where is our due process? Is whats happening to these people really justice?   

facebook icon

Social Media: The judge and jury….but are they a fair? Read about how your followers will be the jury for your mistakes.


twitter icon

Social Media: the judge and jury. Read about how social media is the new judge in town. 



3 thoughts on “Social Media, the judge and jury.

  1. Very interesting blog Kelly, I watched the video – What a story! He makes a really interesting point, how the tools that enable us to seek democratic justice can turn into a channel for scapegoating – You are right, this happens all the time. I mentioned to Cheryl earlier how I thought using these tools with the right intent was necessary to avoid such social pitfalls but after reading your blog and watching the video, I would also add that that is also as important to check ourselves before posting any criticism that might be charged with strong feelings because sometimes the facts are blurry

  2. Great post, Kelly! What stands out for me is the pace at which things happen in today’s environment, particularly in social media. Letters to the Editor used to take days/weeks to write and be published, but now in the age of the Internet, you can leave a comment anywhere at any time. There’s also the expectation of instant gratification – “I posted something now but why hasn’t anyone commented on it yet”. The benefit of time is that you have the opportunity to reflect on what you are writing or commenting on, and to think through what you are saying. And this is why I have thought carefully about this response 🙂

  3. Kelly, I find this issue endlessly fascinating. 25 years ago it would require someone doing something on the primetime news, now, it can be something as simple as a comment to a private social media page. We are writing the rules as we live and breath and that is scary. I am reminded of the first rule of working in politics. “If you don’t want it on the front page of the newspaper, don’t say it”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.