Social Media: The Vigilante Superpower

While it pains me to give “chair girl” anymore attention, I feel this is an important topic and a story which proves how powerful social media is and how fast it’s becoming one of the greatest tools in policing.

I’d be willing to bet my use of the term “chair girl” didn’t even raise eyebrows, you knew exactly who I was writing about, didn’t you? The woman who tossed a chair over a high rise balcony, with zero concern of who may get hurt down below. This moronic stunt was filmed and posted online, it seems the goal was for attention, maybe the hopes for a viral video, which was a success but more importantly this gave proof of the power of social media and the inability to hide from the scrutiny of it’s users.

I first saw the video on Facebook, it seems one of my friends was mentioned in a comment someone had posted about the video. My reaction was the same as most. Complete shock and disgust for such reckless behaviour. But what was amazing was from the time I first saw the video to the time the woman was identified and dealing with police was a matter of a day.

Before social media, if a stunt like that was found out about at all, police would have had a massive task of determining a likely area that the chair fell from and then do extensive door to door questioning in that suspected area in an effort to find who was responsible. With social media however, all that leg work is done for them. The speed that information and opinion or even a call to action spreads online is mind blowing and in a case like this, it’s a great tool to bring accountability to the person or people responsible.

Of all the coverage and opinion I’ve seen on the matter, there has only been one picture of where the chair landed and the damage it caused. Luckily a person didn’t get in it’s way. I agree with the person who shared that photo, in that I think when these things happen it’s important to focus on the consequence of the action and not put the attention on the perpetrator, who was looking for a reaction in the first place.

We are seeing the presence of police forces online more and more, law enforcement realizes the reach and potential of social media as well as the ability and desire of it’s users to help when asked to locate a person or share any information they may have. Social media is becoming one of their most valuable tools in investigations and I feel its use will only become more commonplace. Do you think policing and social media are a good mix or does the platform give too much power to public opinion and vigilantes?

Facebook: Social media is a crime fighters paradise. But, is it a great tool for police or too much power for the vigilante?

Twitter: Social media is a #crimefighters paradise

4 thoughts on “Social Media: The Vigilante Superpower

  1. Hello Lindsey,
    Great post! I was really interested in the subject matter you chose, and it prompted me to do some personal research into policing efforts online.

    I personally feel that the police should use any tool at their disposal to catch these perpetrators. It’s fascinating the speed information can be shared today! However, it is worrying how many people participate in criminal behavior just to receive online attention.

    Do you believe because of the attention this video received that others will copy the behavior, or do you feel that the charges against the women were enough to scare others off?

  2. I think it depends greatly on the punishment this person faces. These kinds of cases are starting to set precedents, up until recently a stunt, gained some attention and then was quickly forgotten about now we see more and more legal consequences of reckless behavior and the hope would be it will deter many from taking part in such activities but I’m sure there will always be those who believe the attention outweighs the consequences.

  3. I think policing on social media is a good thing. Everything is online these days and with everyone constantly recording and taking photos of things, I think it definitely makes their job quicker and easier.

  4. This is one of the positive sides of social media and one of most valuable tools in investigation as you mentioned and back ground checks. The people who are performing these stunts are the victim of their own behavior. They are unconscious of the consequences. Thank you for reflecting upon this story that shows the contribution of social media to law enforcement.

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