A Discussion On Internet Shaming

by admin on July 9, 2014

The following video has gone viral. It records two women attempting to steal a pavilion tent from the beach on July 4th and when caught by the owner, defend it as belonging to them, including all chairs, beach toys, etc. The interesting aspect of this situation is that the owner is willing to drop it and move on but the woman in the red bathing suit ignores the offer and instead goes on the offensive, literally.

The owner, who goes only by his first name of “Rich”, choose to not press charges but did publish the video online. The question I’m proposing for discussion is whether Internet shaming has become more effective of a deterrent than threats of arrest for grand larceny and simple assault. What role should Internet shaming, if any, play in molding behavior of others?

{ 141 comments… read them below or add one }

The Elf July 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

With all the cellphones and security cameras around, everyone should just assume they are being filmed when they are in public space and behave accordingly. We can argue the rightness or wrongness of the electric eye, but it is there. Don’t do shameful stuff and you’ll have no reason for being shamed. Stealing everyone’s beach gear goes beyond having a bad day. What I find fascinating is that the two thieves were given an “out” – the woman in orange tried to take it by saying “we didn’t realize….” Then the woman in red doubled down and oh hell no. I might – maybe – have had more sympathy if she didn’t try to turn the tables on the owner of the beach gear.

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Phoenix July 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I think the internet shaming could prove to be useful.

In the cases of stalking, harassment, abuse, and rape — some people on tumblr would post the name of the offender to warn others. Especially for convention goers, where creepy photographers, celebs, or cosplay ears try to use their fame to creep on others.

It can also help get the word out if no one can find the name. It’s video graphic evidence of a crime that could help catch muggers and assaulters when they attack in crowded places.

These criminals need to realize just how quick the word can spread thanks to the internet, so that they stop this behavior.

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

You have the right to defend your property as well as your person and your nearest and dearest. It’s considered a social and ethical duty to render aid when passing the scene of an accident, assault, medical episode etc… The camera is a much kinder deterrent than a gun, non-lethal such as a taser, pepper spray, or simple physical force. I think that these two were brazen because that’s the only option that was open to them. Can this type of shaming go awry? Definitely. There have been cases of mistaken identity based on a photo or film- and it’s quite true that a troll could set someone up. No one is immune from such a possibility. But to say flatly that it’s wrong to use this type of posting as a deterrent fails to acknowledge it’s value- that of deterring would be perpetrators from committing similar offenses.

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gen xer July 9, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Mixed feelings on this but I incline towards thinking that internet shaming is kind of low brow.

I know, I know…so is stealing and many other offenses that are “shameable” in the first place….and I do understand the desire to see someone get what they deserve. Trust me I get it.

But it’s not really about defending the wrong-doers.

Something about internet shaming just makes me think less of the person doing it…like they’re petty, spiteful and stooping to making their victimization a splashy, attention-getting sideshow.

You also have to consider the veracity of what is posted on the internet and social media. So much is just so phony that I find it hard to get up in arms about something that I don’t even know is real…and frankly don’t even care.

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JO July 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Depends on the type of shaming. Something like this? Go for it! They SHOULD be ashamed. Filming someone doing something like picking their nose or with a wardrobe malfunction? Uncouth. There’s no point in causing them embarrassment if they didn’t hurt anybody. What really irritates me is people who ‘internet shame’ their kids, forcing them to hold signs and pose for photos. Parents like that just have no concept of how to foster emotional development in their families.

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Karen L July 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Shaming is really etiquette’s only weapon. Back in the olden days when people lived in tight communities, you would have to have acceptable behavior or basically be excluded from society. Now that we live in extended communities (including internet communities) people’s behavior has degraded. You can go ahead and be a jerk on the freeway because you are probably not being a jerk to your neighbors or your boss, and who cares if strangers you never encounter again think you are a jerk? I think internet shaming counteracts that. Now, if your neighbors and your boss and your mom WILL find out about your behavior, maybe you will model acceptable behavior more often.

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LizaJane July 11, 2014 at 6:05 am

Well put. I agree completely.

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Rebecca July 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm

If they really were stealing, I think it’s great that their crime can be posted on the internet. However, I am not convinced, based on this video. Maybe they were genuinely mistaken, ie another family member had set up something similar and they were asked to go take it down. A few times I’ve tried my key in a car door in a parking lot only to realize it’s not my car at all, but a similar one.

Or maybe the camera guy thought it would be funny to go up to someone and say, “this is my stuff” to see what happened.

However, it sure looks suspicious, how defensive they got. If they’d made an honest mistake, most people would be embarrassed and say, “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry!! Ours is just over there and it’s sooo similar!! I can’t believe we did that!! Sorry, sorry!!”

If it’s the guy pulling a prank, I think they would say, “Uh, I don’t think so, no. This is our stuff. What are you talking about?”

Instead, the woman agreed to step away from his stuff and then walked up and got abusive. Sounds a lot like guilt to me. There are some perfectly normal looking people walking around everywhere who seem to feel entitled to help themselves to whatever they see.

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Jays July 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm

A stinger: On one of the links to the video I found, it described them as “two elderly women.”

Yeah, they’re probably wishing they hadn’t done that.

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Skittle July 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

My guess is he chose not to press charges because by doing so he would have to put himself out to come back to the area for court dates and what not, but didn’t want these women to get away with this entirely.

If he didn’t live in the area, or near the area, pressing charges against them could easily turn into a nightmare for him and a slap on the wrist for them at best, or the charges thrown out completely at worst. So by videoing the encounter and posting it online, he made it clear to everyone that sees the video that these women are thieves, and saves himself multiple trips back to where ever this took place just to make court appearances to make sure the charges didn’t get thrown out because he couldn’t be there.

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Cathy July 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I have no problem with internet shaming – maybe it will deter some jerks like this from doing this type of thing. And they deserve whatever they get. I’d press charges.

And stealing isn’t a “prank”. I get really tired of people doing stupid, unkind, thoughtless or illegal things and trying to pass it off as humor or pranking or “I was just kidding, can’t you take a joke?” No, $$^&##$, because it isn’t funny.

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Tara July 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm

These women are psychopaths. They don’t care about anyone but themselves, and feel no guilt or remorse for their actions, they’re only mad because they got caught. Shaming them publicly will not deter them. They’ve probably done this before and gotten away with it, and they’re getting away with it again because he’s not pressing charges. There’s people like this all over the place, and you have to be aware of that, and be ready to take strong actions to protect yourself.

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Jade July 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm

I’m conflicted on where I stand regarding ‘internet shaming’ – on one hand having film of the incident prevents it from becoming a he said/she said scenario, on the other hand outing these women (as other posters have pointed out) can have serious repercussions to them – whether or not they deserve these repercussions is a matter of opinion.

Recently a woman was ‘internet shamed’ when she racially abused a woman on a commuter train. There was much discussion of the fact that when she phoned the police (to complain of being harassed and intimidated) that she gave a false name.

But if you look at it from her perspective at that point she had three or four people filming her with their camera phones and, in that instance, I might have been hesitant to give out my real name and details and have that information made public so that who knows who can do who knows what with it. Maybe the women in that video deserve to be shamed, to lose their jobs, to be shunned by their friends. But is that up to us to decide?

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Ames July 11, 2014 at 1:06 am

That woman in question “called” the police to “report” two children who did not get off their seats and give the chairs to her. She never called the police, she only pretended to. At the point that she hung up the phone, she started screaming obscenities at the children and anyone in the immediate vicinity. That is when the gentleman who filmed the whole exchange started filming her.

Much like the women above, she didn’t take kindly to it and instead chose to racially abuse the woman next to the man, thinking they were associates. This man continued to film the woman not only racially abuse the woman, but others in the train who stood up for the poor girl.

This man has now submitted this video to the police for evidence as when she alighted, she was spoken to by police but let go. As there were no witnesses who got off at the same station, she was let go. Further investigation and having it posted online allowed the police to track her down- she again gave a false name- and charge her with racial discrimination and disturbance.

So I absolutely believe in being able to film this sort of thing. She wasn’t filmed until she started making a complete nuisance of herself in a public arena and in a completely irrational way. She gave out a fake name afterwards to prevent herself getting into any more trouble because she knew what she had done was wrong. Regardless of whether it was fair or not for people to post it online is another matter, but the point is this woman would have gotten away scot-free otherwise.

If you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.

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Miss-E July 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I saw that video. People were not upset because she gave a fake name and that wasn’t why she was being shamed. She was being shamed because she was being horrible to everyone around her and she deserved what she got.

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JackieJormpJomp July 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I think public shame is an appropriate consequence for poor public behaviour.
If they had apologised? Made amends? Let it go. But if you are going to behave badly in public–breaking obvious and agreed upon societal rules– people have a right to shame you for it.

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NostalgicGal July 9, 2014 at 11:36 pm

I own some property that needs revamping badly near my house. The person that used to be there would take old wood (we are talking major logs to brush to remodel scrappage) and old metal (think washing machines, dead fence, etc) for firewood (if he could cut useable pieces then split the bigger chunks) or hauling to sell for scrap. I posted it all over in a couple of languages about NO DUMPING and DO NOT TRESPASS and recently… two fellows with English NOT their first language (and I am learning that one as survival here as a lot speak that one) pull up with a pickup and large trailer full of both to do just that. Right next to big signs that say DON’T. I walk up to them with phone on record and tell them no they can’t. Oh yes they can the guy here said it was okay. I tell them no he moved a month ago. I own it and no they can’t. Oh yes they can he said it was okay… I hold phone camera up at arm’s length and get good shots of both of them, then scan the pickup, the license plate and the trailer. What am I doing? No they can’t and if they don’t leave I have the sheriff’s dispatch on autodial and a nice video. If I find so much as bent paperclip here I will turn in the video. They tell me some not nice things and I make a gesture like I did either “dial” or “post”. They wasted no time getting back in pickup and backing out and leaving. No I have not seen one paperclip of stuff either; it got around apparently about no more dumping your (deleted) here. I love smartphone cameras.

Yes I believe in posting stuff for shaming. You are on camera 24/7 in this world if someone wants to shoot the vid. I agree the guy would have had a nightmare probably to press charges, so it was easier to let them pack up.

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sweetonsno July 10, 2014 at 12:30 am

My problem is that the people who are being shamed have no way of defending themselves or presenting their side of the story. Viewers tend to trust the person doing the shaming, whether they should or not. They accept the poster’s presentation and interpretation of the situation. It is far, far to easy too easy for a jerk to misrepresent or exaggerate a situation through editing, even without using anything particularly advanced: just choosing a particular start or stop point can completely change the way the the people shown in a video appear to be behaving.

Consider the recent post wherein a man came across an altercation between two women, one of whom was a friend of his. He couldn’t diffuse the situation verbally and wound up physically restraining the aggressor in order to keep her from harming him and his friend. People who only witnessed the last part to the situation thought he was the bad guy and accused him of some pretty horrible things. Given what they saw, I can’t say that I blame them. The problem is that they didn’t know the whole story, and the information that they didn’t have would have completely changed their interpretation significantly.

There are sites out there that are dedicated to destroying people’s reputation based on the “evidence” provided by a single person (or sometimes, group of people). A lot of them deal with social and romantic decisions, and the story is often told by a person who has been rejected. A girl rejects one guy but goes out with a few others? Well, the guy who got rejected can post her picture and the story of how she is obviously loose, as well as make up any stories he may want to about her health and history. A guy doesn’t realize that a girl who is sitting at the bar alone has a date in the bathroom and offers to buy her a drink? He’s obviously a total creep who regularly disrespects other guys. And tries to get women intoxicated so he can take advantage of them. In short, the accusations made can be completely baseless, have a grain of truth to them, or be totally honest and accurate. We don’t know.

The problem is that shaming videos invite the general public to play judge, jury, and executioner based upon the limited evidence provided. (Or, in some cases, just executioner, when the poster has already told them what conclusion to draw about the person’s character.) People exaggerate and lie. There are cases of mistaken identity (someone upthread said that one of the women looks like a relative of hers/his). There is no putting the genie back in the bottle on these things. Even if the guy came out and said that it was a prank, those women have been presented to the world as thieves. Innocent women who look like the women in the video are probably being treated like thieves. These women’s families are probably being subjected to harassment as well, and I imagine the same is true for the families of any doppelgängers.

I do think there is a lot of danger in spreading harmful allegations about others when you don’t know the whole story, unless there is a public safety consideration.

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admin July 10, 2014 at 6:12 am

There are legal remedies for libel, however. If someone is stupid enough to publish fallacious information that defames another, or even true information that was not meant to be public (such as a sexually transmitted disease only you,the doctor and ex-boyfriend know about), a good lawyer can be invaluable. But get caught in the act of stealing what belongs to another person and the thief forfeits any right to privacy.

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Steve July 10, 2014 at 7:10 am

Legal remedies don’t help you if you get killed. Last year an Internet mob falsely identified two innocent men as the Boston Marathon bombers. They lived in fear for their lives. Yes, they are pursuing a case for libel against the idiotic New York newspaper who published their photos. But a victory in court would’ve been a small consolation to their families had anything happened to them.

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sweetonsno July 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

It is unfortunately very easy to post these things anonymously, so people who post false or misleading information can be quite safe from legal repercussions. Additionally, some of the people who own the web sites will refuse to remove information or divulge the identities of the contributors.

Additionally, it is ultimately impossible to completely withdraw a defamatory video or image once it is out. They are shared, reposted, saved to personal computers, and printed. Sure, the women whose ex-boyfriends posted their boudoir photos online can sue the jerks. But that sure as heck doesn’t get those photos back, or “unseen” by strangers.

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PWH July 10, 2014 at 10:57 am

There are times when recording a situation does help. Recently on the news there was a guy on the subway sitting near a woman who suddenly attacked him. Punching and scratching at him. He tried to restrain the woman and when the transit police arrived, they mistakenly thought he was the aggressor, tackling him to the floor. Luckily someone had been recording the woman prior to the altercation because she had been acting strange and they ended up getting everything on camera which they provided to the police. The woman was arrested and charged with assault. I’m hoping the poor guy got an apology.

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rachel July 10, 2014 at 3:08 am

Videos can be edited, scanners will always exist, doxing exists: Internet shaming is much more dangerous than most people here think.

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rachel July 10, 2014 at 3:09 am

*scammers. Hate auto correct.

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don't blink July 10, 2014 at 6:35 am

Public shaming is nothing new – it is simply the form it now takes that is something we, as a society, now have access to. Clearly the thought that they might get caught was not much of a deterrent to them and they did not think ahead to the fact that almost everyone has access to a camera now. If public shaming via the internet was something they never considered before it surely is now. The court of public opinion is much harsher than our legal one.

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Gen Xer July 10, 2014 at 7:39 am

I have to agree with everything Sweetonsno said. People jumping on the bandwagon, getting indignant and self-righteous about stuff on the internet of all places! That is just unthinking, irresponsible and somewhat naive mob mentality.

You can’t put a lot of trust in what you see on the internet! Anyone can post anything! That’s enough for me to be against internet shaming.

We say there is legal recourse for libel and that is true…but there is also legal recourse for theft. The problem with libel and slander is that even if you were to win a legal case ( after having spent untold dollars, time and angst trying to clear your name ) your reputation may always have a dark cloud over it.

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Molly July 10, 2014 at 9:15 am

How does anyone know from this video that this really was this guys stuff? They seem genuinely surprised at being confronted. The possibility that the filmer is a nasty practical joker is as real to me as the possibility that these two women are thieves.

This reminds me of the influx of receipts with nasty notes written on them by servers that is sweeping the internet. Come on …. how many people can possibly be getting receipts with nasty notes? Also, the little girl that was supposedly kicked out of a KFC for having a scarred face. I think the internet posting sites like reddit give people that are craving attention an outlet to make up stories and get sympathy or attention.

Internet shaming is often false and meant to somehow glorify the poster. No one can know the whole story and there are ALWAYS two sides to every story.

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WMK July 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

If it really was their stuff, one of the women could have call the cops/beach patrol and let them take care of the situation.

If it was an honest mistake, the guy filming gave them an ‘out’ and they could have sheepishly apologize and been on their way.

If they were really stealing which, based upon Tankini’s behavior, leads me to believe they were, then got caught red-handed.

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Abby S July 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

In my mind, public shaming is too close to vigilantism. In many cases, we don’t have the whole story. Even if it looks like there couldn’t possibly be another side to it. We shouldn’t put people on trial on the internet just because it’s less convenient to do so through the justice system.

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Laura July 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm

The two women in the video don’t strike me as being very bright. Think about it. If you were taking something that you full well know doesn’t belong to you, and someone approaches you holding up a camera phone and asking questions, would you keep going as if it were really your stuff?

If it were me stealing it, and this happened, I’d be doing the “brushing the canopy off, Oh, I was just admiring it” thing while backpedaling very quickly out. (Not that I would do that- stealing is for pansies)

I think the up part of that video is that if anyone else got things stolen that day, they now have a suspect.

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Barbarian July 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Video surveillance has its uses. Last year a high school kid hit my son’s car at his workplace. Kid’s mom showed up screaming and pitching a public fit when son asked her for insurance and contact info. Kid’s mom told her insurance co my son was backing out in the parking lot and caused her kid to hit him. Workplace cameras showed my son was nowhere near his car when it was hit and that he was inside working. Screaming fit was also captured on video. Workplace turned video into insurance co and claim was settled in our favor.

Like any tool, videos should be used with care. People like these two women don’t have too many ethics to begin with. They can locate the guy and exact revenge if they want. You would probably want to consider what the subject would do to you in return before filming them on your device. Petty disputes may not be the best use for it.

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hakayama July 10, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Those who are so justly concerned about the “other side” of the story can probably rest assured that, in the vast majority of the cases, the individuals accused through visual evidence do get a chance to tell their version of events.
The two females on the beach by now know that they need to stand up and “give their take” on what REALLY happened on that sunny day on the sand. The choice is theirs.
The delivery personnel that played rough with all kinds of packages, the would be robbers that pulled a weapon on a store clerk, the hit-and-run drivers, in most cases I’m sure had been compelled by the folks in law enforcement to defend/deny all and any negative allegations against them.
I think a useful line here is “Whom* are you going to believe, ME or your lying eyes?”
*Except they’d just say “who”.

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Sharon July 11, 2014 at 11:08 pm

I say, post it. Shame them.
If you are going to do something that is blatantly dispicable in spite of the fact that everyone everywhere has a cell phone that is taping your actions, then you deserve to be outted on the net.

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