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Public Shaming On Steroids

The internet can be a powerful social peer pressure tool to change attitudes and beliefs which, in turn, affects behavior for the better.  But that sword of social peer justice is two sided and often used in rather sinister ways.   People who have been foolish enough to say silly, stupid comments in public or online have found themselves trending on Twitter or Facebook with the results being public excoriation, fired from jobs, rape threats, and death threats.   Public shaming, while as old as the hills, has taken on an unprecedented vigor to destroy, instead of simply issuing a public “slap”, those whose words or actions  society has deemed unacceptable.

I’m sending you off to another web site to read the accounts of public shaming that have gone seriously awry.  Journalist Jon Ronson wrote a New York Times Magazine article,  “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life” in which he notes,  “I also began to marvel at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment. It almost felt as if shamings were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script.”    Read it and come back for more discussion.

Internet bullying is not new to me. I’ve been online as “semi public figure” (so says my lawyer) for almost 20 years.   I expect to get pilloried for my opinions and after years of “being in the kitchen”, I can handle the heat quite well.  Yet there have been times that a few odd balls have tried to move beyond expression of disagreement into trying to negatively impact real life.   Many years ago I authored a web page I called the “Vendor Hall of Shame” which predated EtiquetteHell.com.    These shameful vendors were true menaces to society with falsified employment histories, Better Business Bureau negative ratings, criminal records of fraud, court records from disgruntled clients, etc.   Four or five of the worst I created extensive web pages loaded with links to documents and referenced sources and were even vet checked by my attorney to keep it strictly to the facts.   This was the positive side of public shaming, i.e. using the internet to expose and warn about disreputable people who would exploit people’s naivete in order to get clients.   Journalist Jon Ronson, who wrote the previous mentioned article linked above, further recounts how he used public shaming to get his stolen identity back from individuals who could not be entreated to do so.

So, public shaming does have its place.  The problems that Jon Ronson is identifying are when the punishment no longer fits the crime and the savage glee of those who go well beyond shaming someone to active pursuits to fire them from their jobs, destroy their lives, inflict severe emotional abuse with grievous threats.   It could be argued that frauds. scammers, and con artists often earn the vitriol they receive but Ronson is referring to people who have made foolish, stupid, silly comments or images that have gone viral.

Do I think Lindsey Stone erred in posting a picture that could be easily misunderstood? Yes.   Did she deserve to be fired from her job and threatened with death and rape?  Absolutely not.   But what concerns me about her case is that several real friends did express their opinion that they considered the image “tasteless” in a restrained, civil manner yet Stone dismissed these gentle rebukes and chose to leave the image up.   So, there was a low level of public shaming that was ignored and once the image went viral, all hell broke loose. It was an extremely painful lesson on the consequences of publicizing one’s crass behavior and not listening to the good counsel of friends *but* I don’t think there is a person amongst us who hasn’t said something stupid at some point in our lives.  There but for the grace of God go we.

Twitter has a major liability issue embedded in the whole concept of terse little blasts of information and that is a too high of a probability that whatever one tweets in those 144 characters will be misunderstood and definitely taken out of context.   Too many battles appear to be waged with Twitter with news media reporting who tweeted what about this or that person and  for that reason I do not have a Twitter account.   Blabbermouth me cannot possibly convey what I accurately mean in so few words and there is something odd about presuming the world wants to know my snippets of thoughts at any given moment  No, thank you, I choose to not ride the Twitter fad.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shyla April 7, 2015, 3:20 pm

    I follow a blog about a d-list celebrity. There are some who love her and some who hate her. The rest of us are inbetween. Those who hate and those who love are always fighting on twitter. It never seems to end. They have in the past published names and addresses, called places of employment over and over, called the police, looked into suing. It is completely insane and I do not understand.

    On the other side, reality stars have put themselves out there. Their lives are filmed showing us everything. When there is an article criticizing a reality star, someone will usually chime in and say their choices/actions are none of our business and we have no right to criticize. How can you put your whole life on tv and then think it’s no one’s business?

    I really don’t understand those who jump directly to death threats. Is that really how we express disapproval? Comments sections can be terribly mean.

    • Michelle C Young April 7, 2015, 8:45 pm

      Trolls jump directly to death threats. There ARE people who just really want to treat people that way, and actively look for an excuse, any excuse, to do so, so that they can then defend their behavior with “Well, she was asking for it!” or “He deserved it!” Then, they can fool themselves into believing that they are some sort of internet super-hero, out to save the world from horrible people who *GASP!* make mistakes!

      Quite frequently, these trolls wrap up the death threats in a layer of rape, as well. Oh, but, “They don’t really mean anything by it, and it’s silly to take them seriously. Wait, why are you calling the police?” But, of course, when you don’t call the police, but you blog or tweet about how you’ve received these threats, then “Ha! She’s lying! If she were really threatened, there’d be a police report, and I haven’t found on on public records!” usually followed with something along the lines of “Die, you lying B*#*%!”

      I’ve seen it too many times, while following the news about #GamerGate, and some other movements. I do not support these movements that support these jerks and these sorts of behaviors. I follow the news about them because I sympathize with the victims of the trolling, and I also hope to learn something about how to avoid it happening to me. I can’t live my life hiding under a rock to avoid trolls, so seeing how people deal with these jerks is helpful to me. And when I can, I lend support to the victims.

      • Amanda H. April 7, 2015, 10:43 pm

        A lot of it also is the lack of accountability for the people who make the rape and death threats. They’re protected by anonymity behind their computer screens, and frequently let themselves get carried away by that into saying things they would never dream of saying face-to-face with people.

        Reminds me of a story I read sometime last year about a woman who received those sorts of threats from some teenage boys on a blog or similar…and actually managed to find out who the boys were. She promptly contacted their mothers to let them know what their sons were doing, and wonder of wonders the mothers in question actually disciplined their sons for such reprehensible behavior. It was really nice to see a happy ending for once.

        • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 6:58 pm

          That really is a happy ending.

        • Ergala April 9, 2015, 11:12 am

          She was a gamer! She sent the mother copies of the threats straight from FB and the mother was horrified.

  • Library Diva April 7, 2015, 3:55 pm

    Fascinating topic, and I’m glad admin saved me the work of determining whether the gentleman who wrote a book on this topic and recently appeared on “The Daily Show” was also the author of the article about Justine Sacco (he is!).

    Admin, I think you may have conflated a couple of incidents. What made “the Justine incident” so memorable and dramatic was that she had no idea it was even happening. She sent her now-infamous tweet from an airport shortly before turning off her devices and boarding a lengthy international flight. It was the girl who gave the finger and pretended to yell at Arlington that was advised to take down the picture and didn’t, figuring that the internet moves so fast that no one would much notice it, or wouldn’t think much of it if they did, but wound up being terribly wrong.

    Public shaming has become a hobby and, in cases like Justine’s and the Arlington girl’s, a massive overreaction. It was stupid and senseless, but neither of them deserved to have their lives destroyed. I wonder why we like to do it so much. I think in some cases, it makes us feel as if we’re doing something about big issues. No individual can cure AIDS, provide economic equality to all of Africa, or end racism, but we can tell someone how wrong she is. Many people feel as if the culture has gotten increasingly crude and disrespectful, and ‘shaming’ someone like the Arlington girl or the people who appear on that Selfies at Funerals site is their way of hitting back. Divorced of their humanity, they become avatars for everything people despise. Participants in shaming forget that these are just people, and there’s no way to know whether their singled-out post represents them or not.

    • Crabtree Gear Kid April 7, 2015, 7:00 pm

      Yes, I happened to be online as that whole thing played out and I remember feeling sick when the hashtag, it was something like #hasJustinelanded?, started to trend. Even if her comments had been serious, nobody deserves to have their worst moment watched gleefully by thousands of people around the world.

  • EllenS April 7, 2015, 3:57 pm

    The whole phenomenon reminds me of the Two Minutes’ Hate in “1984”, and the Particicution in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” where mass hysteria is deliberately evoked and manipulated. The object of the hate is really just a tool – the purpose is simply an exercise of power.
    The real horror is not that the protagonists witness this, but that they are caught up in the wave of destruction and participate themselves.

    • Michelle C Young April 7, 2015, 8:47 pm

      Very good point.

      It almost makes me believe there really is a mysterious “THEY” behind it all.

    • Kate April 8, 2015, 5:54 pm

      This is a great analogy!

  • RD April 7, 2015, 3:57 pm

    While the rape/death threats are definitely too much, I can understand why people would want “justice” for what twitter/facebook users put up, and I believe that people should be fired for making jokes like that online (especially if they’re not even going to turn their privacy settings on). Even if it’s a “one-time slip” should still have consequences, especially when they’re sharing it to a public platform.

    For example, I can understand why it wouldn’t make sense that someone who’s a PR agent is sharing jokes about “Africa having AIDs” when she was going there for work. It’s essentially the same as if you found your doctor on twitter making a joke about overweight people. Once again though, going to the airport to click a photo of the woman (when you don’t even personally know her) is just too bizarre.

  • fountainof April 7, 2015, 4:35 pm

    While I do find some reactions to things people say and do on twitter extreme, some of the comments people make are just so out there I don’t even get how anyone could find them anything other than offensive. I had to Google some of the people listed above and from what I see for Justine she was fired for saying something pretty offensive, I don’t even know why anyone would think such a thing should pass from their thoughts to their lips and how in any context it would be funny or acceptable, especially on a public forum such as twitter. But I guess, I just expect people should filter themselves when they speak, they should think about how people will interpret their comments and not just blurt out any random things they think.

    • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 7:04 pm

      Unfortunately, sarcasm doesn’t always come through on text, particularly when you are limited to 140 characters. IF she really was poking fun at her privilege, then it’s not so bad, but there’s no way to prove it, and saying so after-the-fact won’t convince an awful lot of people who really just want to jump right to the worst conclusion. It’s a “She said/or maybe really she said/but she really meant/oh DARN!” situation.

      The problem is, if she had spoken it out loud, with all the tonal quality and body language that goes with it being sarcastic, and said it to someone who knows her, and how she really feels about the issue, it would probably have been a hilarious commentary on racism today. But on Twitter, it just went all, horribly, completely, irredeemably wrong.

      • Eugenia July 23, 2015, 12:53 pm

        I think that if we look at her tweet contextually – taking into account her comments on a German man in 1st Class’s BO, and the “cucumber sandwiches and bad teeth” joke about England – we see a pattern of rather crass, judgmental mental commentary. Also, given those two texts, I’m not entirely sure that I’d agree with her defense that she was poking at her privilege with the AIDS comment. That doesn’t jive with the other things she was just saying.

        I do think that death threats and rape threats are (of course) going way too far. It’d be nice if someday that death-and-rape-threat crowd starts getting found out and facing consequences for making threats like that.

        But basic public shaming for behaving so crassly? In the internet age, you’d think people (especially PR people) would know by now how easily a completely benign (but ill-written) comment can be twisted, much less one that is coming in at the back of the line of a bunch of other crass, judgmental comments.

  • Kimberly April 7, 2015, 4:40 pm

    Admin – I think you confused Justine Sacco (Bigoted tweets) and Lindsey Stone (silly pictures)

    Justine Sacco did deserve to lose her PR job. She is in PR and publicly makes bigoted remarks that insult 2 nationalities and one race with stereotypes. Not to mention the attitude towards those with HIV and/or AIDS. The complete lack of judgment managing a public image when her job is to manage public image is grounds for dismissal in my oppinion.

    The other people profiled lost their jobs because of a silly mistake (Photograph disobeying a sign, dressing as a victim of a terror attack, telling an off color joke, publicly shaming the person that told the off color joke). The first two were completely personal and only related to the person’s job because they were doxxed. If the off colored joke was part of a pattern that is one thing. If it was a one off – well the man should have gotten a dressing down for bad judgement at a work function, but no more than that. The woman that shamed him, should have complained to the proper people instead – but she did not deserve to be fired either.

    None of those people should have been fired — their companies basically gave into cyber bullies/terrorists. That makes all of us unsafe. No one should be subject to threats of violence – especially rape and murder.

    People that do make these threats need to be taken seriously by law enforcement tracked down, arrested, tried, hopefully convicted and locked away for a long time. People like Alanah Pearce should not have to track down the people that are threatening them. I admire her for contacting the parents of underaged boys who have made threats and giving their parents a chance to deal with their sons.

    • admin April 7, 2015, 5:06 pm

      Yep, you are right! I had been reading several articles and got Lindsey Stone and Justine Sacco confused. I’ve corrected the error and thanks for pointing it out.

      • Pixi April 13, 2015, 7:04 pm

        I’m not sure that you did fix it. The article links to a story about Justine Sacco, but I have no idea who this Lindsey Stone is that you mention for the first and last time in the final paragraph of the post.

        • admin April 14, 2015, 4:28 am

          The second article link in the post does go into detail about Lindsey Stone and others.

    • mark April 7, 2015, 9:01 pm

      I think sometimes when people are fired for stuff like the Adria Richards incident, it isn’t always the real reason. It just makes it easy to fire them. I know my brother has fired several people for being late to work. (It is a medical laboratory so being on time is very important.) But he wanted to fire them for being incompetent, and if they weren’t incompetent, he might have overlooked it. This is like Al Capone went to jail for tax evasion.

    • Library Diva April 8, 2015, 9:20 am

      Personally, I thought the woman who photographed the man at the tech conference did deserve to lose her job. Her role as I understood it concerned business-to-business relations. The man was not even talking to her, but to a friend — she just overheard it. Even so, she could have gone up to him and told him politely that the things he was saying were offensive. She could have done a little research and found out who he was and where he worked (pretty easy at a conference), and talked to his boss privately so that the boss could talk to him about appropriate behavior. She could have even posted the story with no photo attached if she wished to make a public point about the intimidation women face in tech. Instead, she chose the most destructive way possible to make her point. How is that any good for business-to-business relations?

      • admin April 8, 2015, 10:15 am

        According to the story, the conference organizers did pull the man and his friend aside to talk to them about the incident. They were satisfied with the answers given and that was the end of it. It’s when Richards tweeted the image to her 9,000+ followers that everything unraveled for all involved. In other words, reporting him to conference management wasn’t enough for her. And in light of the fact that she herself had posted a tasteless joke about penises to her Twitter account a week earlier, she came across as vengeful and hypocritical. Whereas the man joked privately to his friend in what he thought was a whisper, Richards blasted her joke to thousands.

        • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 7:08 pm

          You mean, private speech versus public broadcasting have different rules? What a shocker!

        • bern821 April 9, 2015, 2:12 pm

          Here is a link to a really interesting article I read about Adria Richards/the PyCon incident. I really thought this put things in perspective. The writer has work experience w/Adria and apparently her reaction at the conference was pretty typical: https://amandablumwords.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/3/comment-page-4/#comments

      • Kim April 8, 2015, 12:02 pm

        Completely agree. And Adria Richards is still blaming Hank and believing that he started the whole situation. There were other options. SHE made it public, when it did not have to be. So yes, she did deserve to lose her job.

      • bern821 April 8, 2015, 5:14 pm

        I find Adria Richards actions at the conference and attitude to date pretty disturbing. She doesn’t seem to accept any responsibility for what happened – when she chose to tweet the picture. Hank was in no way attempting to intimidate or offend her, she OVERHEARD his conversation and decided to be offended. And to say she felt afraid over 2 guys giggling about a ‘dongle’? Please! Some people strive so hard to be the victim. I have to say that I was glad that she lost her job – because her actions caused a father of 3 to lose his.

        • Emily April 9, 2015, 12:18 pm

          Yes, I have to agree– I’m a female who works in the tech industry and for heaven’s sake, I would be giggling right along with those guys about “big dongles”! It’s a ridiculous sounding word! I couldn’t believe that she was so offended when they were laughing at what amounts to a schoolboy joke. It was not by any means implying sexism in the workplace or her inability to do a proper job because she was a female.

          • Basketcase April 10, 2015, 5:09 am

            Just the word Dongle is pretty comical. I cant bring myself to say it with a straight face.

  • Lerah99 April 7, 2015, 5:27 pm

    Everything gets heightened on the internet.

    I think because of the ability to remain anonymous. You can be part of the mob with pitchforks and torches without having to actually see the bloodshed in real life. You get to feel all powerful and self righteous. “Good! I’m glad that girl with the stupid racist tweet lost her job! Serves her right!”

    In the Geek/Gamer community we have GamerGate:
    – A woman posted a YouTube video discussing the “Woman in Danger” tropes in video games and why they are problematic.
    – The Men’s Right Activists throw a fit. She gets buried in death threats, rape threats, and her home address gets posted online.
    – People in the Geek/Gamer Community come out to say “Not cool guys. Knock off the rape threats!”
    – The Men’s Right Activist start insisting that GamerGate has NOTHING to do with her video but rather is a reaction against what they see as bias in game journalism.
    – Just about every female in the Geek/Gamer Community who speaks out against the Gamer Gate death threats and rape threats then gets their own death threats and rape threats.

    So in the hands of the 14 year old boys who hang out on 4chan – it is all about what is the ugliest most horrible thing you can think of to do to this person you disagree with.

    But in the hands of “responsible adults” it becomes a public shaming with virtual torches and pitchforks.

    Just look at the Pizza place in IN recently.
    The owner said “As a Christian owned establishment we would serve gay people in our restaurant, but we would not cater a gay wedding.”

    People on the left were very upset “How dare you discriminate against people for their sexuality!!!???”

    People on the right responded “How dare you try to make them participate in an event they are uncomfortable with due to their religion???!!!!”

    Both sides screaming about either discrimination or freedom. Both sides having a point. Both sides accusing the other of being intolerant.

    One woman tweets “Who is going to come with me to burn down the pizza place” and she loses her job.

    Does anyone seriously think she was going to burn down the pizza place? Was she really a threat? Should be she fired for expressing some anger online? Had she said the same thing to her friends in a bar after work, would she have been tracked down and fired?

    But people don’t want to deal in complicated or shades of gray.
    We want to deal in right and wrong, black and white.
    We want to be able to say “I’m right! You are wrong! Now suffer for your audacity to disagree with me!”

    And the internet allows all of us to jump aboard. To wag our finger and say “For Shame!”

    • admin April 7, 2015, 9:07 pm

      A woman loses her job because she was incredibly stupid enough to post something that can incite people to violence? Darn right she should lose her job!

      • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 7:56 pm

        Inciting to violence, via speech, was a crime long before the internet came along. Even if you don’t mean it, if there’s the possibility that someone in the audience takes it seriously, and actually follows through, then it’s on YOUR head. So, yeah, she needed to face consequences.

        Is it not enough to say, “I disagree with X and Y, so I’m not going to do business with them, anymore.”? Why the public expressions of violence? Humans DO respond violently when they are angered, but that does not give us the right to respond with public violence. Punch a pillow, not a person! Work out the biological response with some kick-boxing practice, or running a mile, or whatever works for you. Once the adrenaline has stopped pumping, and you can think clearly again, THEN go public with your civilized, rational thoughts.

        People wonder why I have long been an aficionado of certain “hack and slash” video games. I’ll tell you why – because for decades, I have dealt with things that made me angry, and I had enough sense to keep the public expressions of violence to myself. Instead, I’d turn on one of my games, and whack orcs or something like that. Sometimes, in my mind, I’d picture the little goblins as some jerk who offended me, and I’d get the (very natural and human) feelings of anger and violence out of my system. It was cathartic and therapeutic, and I felt much better afterwards. And then, I could face the jerk without those feelings of violence, and deal with him calmly and in a civilized manner.

        When I was younger, and kneeling didn’t cause me to pass out, I used to scrub floors, instead. I’d picture so-and-so’s face on the floor, and scrub that smirk right off his skull! My floors at college were very clean, when I was angry.

        I think the immediacy of Twitter, and the fact that so many people can just post right away, from their phones in their pockets, makes the jump from private to public just too darned easy.

  • Dee April 7, 2015, 5:56 pm

    I don’t understand – we are to feel sorry for these people who use social media to broadcast their thoughts publicly? As the author of the article says – people use social media as a bid for attention. Well, these “victims” got that, alright. Death threats are too much but I don’t have a problem with people losing their jobs if they deliberately do something publicly that makes their employers look bad. Shutting up is a bigger virtue than broadcasting everything publicly. How come people don’t get that? Seriously.

    • admin April 7, 2015, 9:05 pm

      Should University of Kentucky basketball player Andrew Harrison lose his “job” and be permanently banned from playing in the NCAA and pros after he was caught by an open mic referring to Wisconsin forward Frank Kamensky “F*&k the n*&&$r” during a press conference? He did make the NCAA and UK look bad. Poor sportsmanship, vulgarity, disrespectful, poor loser, classless. Harrison is black whereas Kamensky is white.

      • Library Diva April 8, 2015, 9:27 am

        I think that firing an otherwise good employee over an offhanded remark or stray photo is a bit much, in general, as long as it’s not directly related to the function of their job. I worked with someone who lost his job over a social media posting (the last straw in a long line of issues), but he deserved it: he used the company’s social media account to throw blame on one of our vendors. It was low-class and could have damaged the relationship. Honestly, though, if he’d been a better employee, it probably wouldn’t have cost him his job.

        It’s probably a good idea for companies to develop social media policies and let their employees know what they do and don’t consider a fireable offense. Admin, in your case, I don’t think Harrison deserves to be banned from the sport forever over that incident. I do think he deserves to face some consequences, though. There is a lot that any “company,” whether it’s the NCAA, the NBA, or Dunder-Mifflin, can do that falls between “nothing” and “OMGYOUREFIRED.”

      • Dee April 8, 2015, 12:09 pm

        Wow! I don’t know that issue with the Kentucky players but I do agree with the firing. I can’t imagine what prompts a person to mouth off like that in public but being fired would be the best lesson learned. If he’s intelligent he will never do that again. Like I said before, being quiet in public instead of using the limelight to show everyone how witty, charming, etc., you are is an admirable option. Why don’t people employ that more? I understand youth and impetuousness but a lot of these people are older, so why didn’t they learn their lessons during their youth? And being fired is not the end of the world, and they will pick themselves back up and move on, hopefully with some restraint learned.

        • Tracy W April 8, 2015, 3:34 pm

          It would be a dull world if no one was willing to show off how witty, charming, etc they are. No Dorothy Parker, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen …

          • Dee April 8, 2015, 5:11 pm

            Yes, but those people actually thought for a moment before publishing what they wrote, and they had editors to screen for stupidity, and you can’t read their works without deliberately seeking them out, they aren’t shoved in your face constantly like modern “writing”. Nowadays everyone thinks they’re a wit and that the whole world will benefit from their musings. For the most part their work should join the thousands of other authors who don’t get published because they just doesn’t generate enough interest.

          • Tracy W April 9, 2015, 5:01 am

            Modern writing isn’t shoved in your face constantly either. No one is required to read Twitter, or Facebook or any other social site (I don’t like Twitter’s format, even writers I follow avidly on other formats bore me in 140 characters, so I don’t read it).

            We don’t know ahead of time which authors will be boring and which ones will really catch on. So I favour letting more out. And I do enjoy many of my friends’ jokes on Facebook even if they are not up to the standards of Dorothy Parker. Imagine going to a party where no one talks unless their comments have been screened by an editor for stupidity. I prefer the occasional offensive comment to that.

        • Library Diva April 13, 2015, 10:45 am

          The reason I don’t advocate firing the basketball player and banning him from the NBA is that it completely takes away his livelihood. If he was a beer distributor, sure, fire him for that and he can go get a job with one of the other ten distributors in town. But for basketball, it’s pretty much the NBA or nowhere, and I think banning him from the sport for one thoughtless comment is too much. If they banned every athlete who said stupid things, no professional team would be able to field enough players.

      • Snarkastic April 10, 2015, 12:35 am

        Perhaps if they paid him, then Harrison would be in a position to lose his “job”. As it is, unless he is generally a problem for Kentucky, which I doubt, then I don’t think he should get the boot (and I’m a Wisco fan). He’s a young player who will hopefully learn some tact and humility.

        P.S. “Kaminsky”

  • just4kicks April 7, 2015, 6:37 pm

    One celebrity in particular this past week or so has been in the news for being “fat shamed”.
    Kelly Clarkson had a baby not too long ago, and is being bullied on social media for not losing her baby weight.
    She said in an interview she only cares about what her family and husband think, and pretty much doesn’t bother with what others think. I think that’s a very healthy attitude. Good for her!!!

    One thing that has always really bothered me about “celebrity” is many celebrities work hard and want to be “rich and famous”. Then when they ARE, they complain they have “no privacy!!”
    You can’t have it both ways, cupcake….
    On the Justin Beiber roast, he was saying how “he got THROWN into this life as a young boy” and made the best choices he knew how.
    Ummm, no, Beibs. You and your mom started a viral you tube campaign to get your music “out there”, and it worked….

    • Library Diva April 8, 2015, 9:30 am

      Bothers me, too. Do you remember that Britney Spears song a few years ago that went “I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous…I’m Mrs. Oh My God That Britney’s Shameless…” complaining about being tabloid fodder? I laughed every time it came on. Aside from wondering whether she had legally wed both “Lifestyles of the Rich And Famous” and “Oh My God That Britney’s Shameless” and contemplating life as the wife of a phrase, it was well-documented that she’d call the paparazzi and tell them of her evening plans so they could get it all on film. She had a lot of nerve complaining about attention that she actually courted.

      • just4kicks April 9, 2015, 9:43 am

        @Library Diva: is that the song that starts off, “it’s Britney…..BITCH!!!”??? Delightful.

    • Tracy W April 8, 2015, 3:36 pm

      On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to not care about other people. And celebrities may well not know what they’re getting into when they’re trying to become celebrities.

      • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 8:02 pm

        Some of us would like to be rich, without the famous, but unfortunately, without inheritance or a lucky lottery, cannot achieve the riches except through fame.

    • Lerah99 April 10, 2015, 8:00 am

      Justin Beiber was a CHILD when he decided he wanted to be famous.
      Lots of kids dream of the same thing, but don’t have the mom working behind the scenes to make that happen.

      I can understand him looking back as an adult and feeling like he was thrust into stardom.
      At 14 he had an entire entourage of adults making their living off of him. Are we surprised that he didn’t come out of that well adjusted and prepared to be a normal adult?

      The same thing with Britney Spears. She was a kid when she was fed into the Disney machine.
      And when she had her very public breakdown, it turned my stomach how callous people were. Mostly people seemed to be gleefully waiting for her to OD or commit suicide.

      I wonder how any of us would fair under the same circumstances. Do you remember the decisions you made at 14, 15, 16? And would your decisions have been better if you were rich, famous, and surrounded by people who wouldn’t tell you “no” because you were their meal ticket?

      • just4kicks April 11, 2015, 4:06 am

        @Lerah 99: You make a very valid point.
        Lindsey Lohan also comes to mind, like, “oooh, what’s she going to do today?!?”
        It’s very sad, I agree.
        There are many celebrities who do this, Alec Baldwin comes to mind, who has a fit when anyone tries to take his photo.

    • crella April 11, 2015, 6:10 pm

      I have to disagree slightly on this 🙂 Celebrities entertain, we pay them money and they sing or act. They sing, we buy the CDs (or digital music) . We’re getting something for the money we spend, and that’s the contract between us, as I see it. I think it’s unreasonable to think that they should be available 24 hours a day, and we have to see every walk they take, meal they eat, and shopping trip . Now, if they’re Tweeting all this, then, yes, they’re bringing it on themselves, but I th ink that as people with the same rights as everyone else, that each celebrity should be able to set their own level of exposure. They put themselves out there as actors and singers, yes, but when they’re off the clock they should get to decide how much they’re in the public eye.

      • just4kicks April 12, 2015, 4:21 am

        @Crella: Very interesting comment, I admit I never thought about it that way.
        And I also believe that celebrities children, ailing elderly parents should be off limit to the press.
        I like your observation about a “contract” of sorts in exchange for entertainment services.

        I also thought of Tori Spelling while reading all the comments.
        She chose to be in a reality show for the whole world to see her crumbling marriage…..kids and all.
        She says she did because: they needed the money, and to help others going through the same thing.
        I think she was brave to let people see her and Dean at their worst, but the VERY elaborate birthday parties for her kids and stepson, as well as hopping off out of town for a “girls weekend” to get away and regroup, I’m not buying the “we are broke, and this is why we are doing this show” business.
        She also allowed all her kids to be filmed, and then had a huge fit when a few folks tried to take her picture driving her kids to school.
        This is the same person who while shopping with the kids, encouraged them to go to the front of the store and “wave to the cameras outside”.
        If you are going that way, you can’t pick and choose and have a fit one day, and encourage the media the next.

  • Kheldarson April 7, 2015, 7:36 pm

    Cracked did a related piece to this article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-internet-always-prefers-revenge-over-justice/

    While I don’t think this level of shaming is right, I do think that folks, particularly those in high level positions or more out in the limelight, need to remember the Internet is forever. And everybody needs to remember to keep their social networks set to private.

    • admin April 7, 2015, 8:56 pm

      I don’t have Twitter so I am not familiar with its privacy settings. The article said that Sacco had maybe under 200 followers so did one of her “followers” resend it or is it that anything you tweet can be seen by everyone?

      • Liliane April 7, 2015, 9:00 pm

        I believe you can lock your Twitter so you have to approve people’s follow requests and they can’t see your tweets unless approved, but if one of those followers has an open, public Twitter and then retweets something you said, it’ll be out there for everyone.

        • Lis April 8, 2015, 5:50 am

          No, you can’t retweet locked posts. You can of course copy and paste and tweet something publically, but that’s pretty nasty if the original tweet had a restricted audience.

          • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 8:03 pm

            So, it’s still not sure to be safe.

          • Liliane April 10, 2015, 3:53 pm

            Ah, thank you. I don’t lock my own Twitter personally so I didn’t quite know how that worked.

      • Mags April 11, 2015, 10:37 pm

        Regardless of whether you can retweet or share or whatever your favoured social media does, everyone should remember that people can ALSO take a screen shot of what shows up in their feeds and post that. So even if you delete you post or change your settings so I can’t share your post, if I decided to take a picture of it, you can’t delete my picture.

  • LauraLBW April 7, 2015, 7:41 pm

    Thank you Admin, for today’s blog entry. It will make me think twice about what I post online. I had considered a Twitter account, but have decided not to. I’m very glad that FB has an edit button because I can’t get my thoughts written correctly the first time.

    There has been and always will be people looking for offense where none is intended. Then with the Internet being the way it is, the possibilities make me shudder.

    Just for curiousity sake, I typed my IRL “MyFirstname MyMaidenname MyMarriedname” in the Google search box on my iPad. What came up were Internet addressess for my: Linked In account; FB; picture of my son, me and a cousin; my place in my family lineage at ancestry dot com; 1940 U.S. Census information for my mother, and my father’s paternal grandmother(the 3 of us have the same first name, and my Maidenname is their MarriedLastname); and the address at findagrave dot com to locate my paternal greatgrandmothers permanent resting place.

    • mark2 April 14, 2015, 8:10 am

      Even tho fb has an edit button, once you write your original post, it’s out there and doesn’t get edited on some devices. It will be edited on your own page tho

  • girl_with_all_the_yarn April 7, 2015, 8:35 pm

    After reading the whole article, I think the real psycho in that story is Sam Biddle, the journalist who gave the whole thing its initial traction because of his article. Then he says some non-committal bit about how he didn’t expect to ruin her life or to lose her job. Then, as soon as she’s getting her life back on track he does it again and tries to start the process all over again.

    What a jerk. I wonder why no one has publicly shamed him?

    • Miss Mercy April 8, 2015, 12:48 am

      girl_with_all_the_yarn April 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm
      “After reading the whole article, I think the real psycho in that story is Sam Biddle, the journalist who gave the whole thing its initial traction because of his article. Then he says some non-committal bit about how he didn’t expect to ruin her life or to lose her job. Then, as soon as she’s getting her life back on track he does it again and tries to start the process all over again.

      What a jerk. I wonder why no one has publicly shamed him?”

      I agree!
      Although the end of the article states Biddle was later shamed for a comment of his own (what was that phrase about glass houses and stones, again?), it’s strange how he got off scot-free for initially shaming Sacco, while Adriana Richards was doxxed and received death threats for highlighting a joke which she felt represented a work environment that made her uncomfortable*. (Not that the gentleman whose joke she publicized deserved to be fired, but him losing his job does not appear to have been Richards’ intention. )

      Also, is anyone else noticing a tendency towards a particular gender among shaming victims?

      • girl_with_all_the_yarn April 8, 2015, 7:06 am

        Oh yeah. Without question. Even when men do get shamed, they rarely lose their jobs, and they rarely see as many threats of violence.

    • YersiniaP April 8, 2015, 5:18 am

      If you read the article, you must have overread this sentence:
      “Months later, Biddle would find himself at the wrong end of the Internet shame machine for tweeting a joke of his own.”

      He DID find himself at the other end of the pitchforks eventually, which made him write an article to set the record straight:

      • YersiniaP April 8, 2015, 5:19 am

        Whoops, Miss Mercy’s comment and mine must have crossed somehow! I swear it wasn’t up when I wrote mine! 🙂

      • girl_with_all_the_yarn April 8, 2015, 7:04 am

        Except he didn’t lose his job, and there weren’t death threats involved. In fact, because he issued an apology for his comment, everyone basically forgave him, but Justine Sacco is still an internet joke. Notice the difference?

        • YersiniaP April 8, 2015, 9:27 am

          You know, I don’t think “avenging” bullying with more bullying is the way to go!

          And yes, I am aware that there’s gender inequality, if you want to call it that, when online-bullying is concerned.
          Getting Biddle fired or shaming him into hiding will not make Justine Sacco’s life any easier though. It would just be more bullying, which is exactly what we don’t need.
          In fact, if he did not lie about the meeting and the conversation he had with her, it sounds like she forgave him.
          Does it really benefit you or me or anybody else (especially someone who is not directly involved in this) to stay foaming mad at him, because the world is unfair and sexist?

          • Crabtree Gear Kid April 8, 2015, 6:59 pm

            I don’t think anyone’s advocating that Biddle be fired. But, to rephrase your question, because the world is unfair and sexist, do we just accept it as our lot or do we start discussions when we witness gender equality?

          • YersiniaP April 9, 2015, 3:28 am

            I don’t think anyone’s advocating that Biddle be fired. But, to rephrase your question, because the world is unfair and sexist, do we just accept it as our lot or do we start discussions when we witness gender equality?

            Of course we should speak up when we witness something that is wrong instead of quietly accepting it, be that sexism, bullying, social injustice etc.

            However, after I reponded to her question and pointed out to girl_with_all_the_yarn that Biddle had indeed eventually faced public shaming himself, she did not seem satisfied with the kind of bullying that he experienced, because it, admittedly, wasn’t as sever and not nearly as threatening as Sacco’s.
            I’ll admit I could be reading too much into girl_with_all_the_yarn’s reply to me, but it sounded a bit as if she felt justice had not been served, because he got off comparatively easy.
            That may be so, but the way I see it, at least Biddle has learned a valuable lesson: How easy it is to make a silly mistake and find yourself in the focus of a media hate mob.
            And I think especially when Justine Sacco herself has apparently moved on from what happened, and has forgiven him, I cannot very be mad at Biddle because he has not lost his job or received death threats.

          • Crabtree Gear Kid April 9, 2015, 4:50 pm

            Oh, okay. I interpreted girl_with_all_the_yarn’s comments as merely pointing out the difference – a woman makes an off colour joke and the internet creates an enormous backlash that pretty much ruins her life. A man does the same thing and the internet is kind of, hmm, that’s not cricket. Oh, look, Kanye’s doing something outrageous!

            Because public shaming is not the same as people taking photos of you when you land in an airport and losing your job.

  • Michelle C Young April 7, 2015, 8:39 pm

    Well, that’s just terrifying.

  • Cat April 7, 2015, 9:33 pm

    The moral to this is that the media is not your personal diary. What you put out there stays out there. No matter what your personal opinion is, there are those who will disagree with you.
    We have all had times when our mouths got ahead of our manners and we have said or done things that, if we had them to do over again, we would not say or do. If we do them to those we know, we can apologize and ask for forgiveness. In these cases, there is no way to take it back and apologies will not satisfy everyone.
    I can only repeat what was always the last line of a popular television series, “Let’s be careful out there.”

    • Politrix April 7, 2015, 9:45 pm

      Hear, hear. A colleague of mine once noted, “It’s called the ‘World Wide Web’ for a reason.”

  • kingsrings April 7, 2015, 9:58 pm

    A few months ago a friend’s boyfriend made an off-color joke in sarcasm on a Facebook thread that was on a friend’s profile. He was immediately called a bigot by some others on the thread who didn’t understand he was just kidding and being sarcastic. But they took it to the level of checking his profile to see who his employer was and then posting how they were going to contact the principal of the school he taught at and send him the comment that he made so that they could get him fired. I couldn’t believe that anybody would go that far and do that, especially when he made it clear that he was just kidding.
    I agree that people definitely need to watch their conduct and understand that there are consequences for actions, but lives shouldn’t be ruined for making an honest mistake, either. Everyone makes mistakes! And I think that most of these “life-ruiners” are simply on huge power trips and get off on the storm they create.

    • just4kicks April 8, 2015, 3:07 am

      @kingsrings: I made my two oldest sons read an article a few weeks ago about a boy at college who posted a rude comment about the girl who was in the little league world series, Monae (sp?) Davis.
      One of the kids channels, Disney I think, is making a movie about her life.
      I don’t remember exactly what his post said, but, the boy who posted it was kicked off his college baseball team for his rude comment.
      When Miss Davis heard about it, she said although she didn’t like what he said, he has worked hard and asked his college to please let him back on his team. They said no.
      I told my son’s it only takes a second to post something that may very well affect their entire future.
      My husband and I check their media accounts everyday, and the rule is before you post ANYTHING, ask yourself, “Would I want Grandma/Grandpop or my coaches to see this?”
      If the answer is no, then delete it.

    • Lerah99 April 9, 2015, 8:07 am

      It’s called “Doxing” and it’s very popular on the internet.

      Someone posts something you find offensive?

      Track down that person’s employer/address/college etc.. then tweet/facebook/tumble the offensive post along with the original poster’s contact info/employer/college etc…

      Then watch the internet destroy that person’s life.

      • just4kicks April 9, 2015, 9:52 am

        Lerah 99: Exactly….I can’t get it through my two (usually very) intelligent teenager’s thick skulls that ONE off color or rude comment CAN destroy their life.
        One of my son’s girlfriend’s posted something yesterday, that taken in the context it was meant between the two of them is very innocent….taken OUT of context sounded really, REALLY bad!
        I asked, (ok, demanded), he and his gf delete the comment NOW, and of course, got the “Gee, Mom, I LOVE when you or dad start yelling at me first thing in the morning!”
        “I’m sorry, darling,…..Good Morning! Do you have practice today? Do you have your lunch money?
        Yes? GOOD! …..now….delete that Twitter post….NOW!!!! Have a lovely day!!!” 🙂

  • SerendipityRose April 7, 2015, 10:13 pm

    I can’t think of much to say about your post except “thank you.” Sometimes it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon before thinking through the potential fall out. Reading your post and the links you shared really clarified how idle words can lead to some real damage.

  • JJ April 7, 2015, 10:29 pm

    While I do not agree with the extreme death threats or rape threats people make at these people expense (because that is awful) I don’t necessarily feel that awful that most of these people lose their jobs or reputations either. I mean come on how can you work in PR and make that comment on social media. People the internet is not your personal diary! Ever. It’s public others can see it especially on Twitter or Facebook. Just stop typing dumb things on there or taking offensive pictures (like black face or the Boston bomb victim chick). How can you really be the incompetent to not think that’s going to get you some reaction!? I mean there is a light joke that you make in the wrong company by mistake and then there is what some of these people did. I don’t agree with death threats or invading their life but I will not feel sorry for them when they get fired, lose relationships/friendships or have a bad reputation online. Think in this digital age before you post. Every single time.

  • JennJenn68 April 7, 2015, 10:49 pm

    I think this all comes down to the fact that people always think that they can never be wrong (Heaven forbid!) and those who disagree with them must be slapped down hard, and at once. Funny how, in our own minds, we’re always the ones wearing the white hats. And, of course, if we punish those who disagree with us, negative consequences will never come back and bite us in the backside…!

    (Still thinking of the trolls who sent hateful, hurtful messages to the parents of the Mahaffy and French girls who were victims of Paul and Karla Bernardo. Some Canadians never forget.)

    • Library Diva April 8, 2015, 9:34 am

      Wow! Someone did that?! I remember that case very well. I live over the border, about an hour’s drive from where that all happened. The trial dominated our local news every night. I wouldn’t watch. It made me feel sick and frightened. I was about the same age as the girls that died, and those videos are, to me, scarier than any graphic horror movie could ever be. I can’t believe someone would bother their families after all these years. How rotten.

  • Julie Millen April 8, 2015, 1:19 am

    Sacco may have thought that she was being witty or funny. She was not. One of my students tried to convince me the other day that being racist fit under freedom of speech. He believed that we should accept racist beliefs because people are entitled to believe what they believe. I assured him that he had the right to believe what he believed; however, as a society, we have the responsibility to make sure ignorance doesn’t spread. You can say all of the stupid crap you feel, but we have to make sure your disease doesn’t spread. When Sacco said she wouldn’t get AIDS because she was white, it became the responsibility of the rest of us to let hr know that she was a complete idiot.

    • admin April 8, 2015, 6:14 am

      Your comment sparked an idea in my mind and that was to google the demographics of HIV/AIDS infections in South Africa. I got quite an education. According to numerous credible sites, including Avert.org (http://www.avert.org/south-africa-hiv-aids-statistics.htm), the HIV prevalence among different South African groups shows that as of 2008 13.6% of blacks were infected compared to .3% of whites and Indians (and 1.7% for coloureds). There are numerous theories as to why there is a huge disparity in infection rates among racial groups (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS_in_South_African_townships) but the inescapable conclusion is that AIDS/HIV is epidemic in the SA townships whereas it is not in other population groups. Statistically speaking, Justine Sacco was correct in noting that her risk of getting AIDS was significantly lower due to her being white. Was it insensitive to say it? Yes. The tragedy of AIDS are the children and women who are innocent victims of man’s ignorance and violence. (Case in point: the rumor that began circulating in various townships that raping a child virgin or Indian woman will immunize or cure a man of AIDS which resulted in a doubling of HIV/AIDS cases in children and increased sexual violence against women).

      Along with the search results for South African AIDS/HIV information, there were many sites discussing the epidemic in black communities in the US. Well, that was an eye opener for me.
      “Black women accounted for nearly 72 percent of the female cases, while whites made up 18 percent and Hispanics 8.5 percent. Given that only 13 percent of Americans are black, you don’t need a statistician to see the scale of the problem.” http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2004/10/a_silent_epidemic.html

      “Although Black Americans represent only 12% of the U.S. population,7 they accounted for 44% of new HIV infections and an estimated 44% of people living with HIV in 2010.3,4,5 Blacks also accounted for almost half of new AIDS diagnoses (49%) in 2011 (AIDS being the most advanced form of HIV disease). The rate of new HIV infections per 100,000 among Black adults/adolescents (68.9) was nearly 8 times that of whites (8.7) and more than twice that of Latinos (27.5) in 2010.” http://kff.org/hivaids/fact-sheet/black-americans-and-hiv-aids/

      This was an excellent article to read: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/endgame-aids-in-black-america/timeline-30-years-of-aids-in-black-america/

      What you view as a racist comment that should never be uttered, I view as a springboard to more discussions and opportunities for education. Therefore I cannot agree with you that all allegedly racist speech must be silenced. Perhaps Justine Sacco’s legacy is to raise awareness of the very disproportional rates of infection among the racial groups in Africa and how that can be addressed.

      • Eva April 8, 2015, 7:08 am

        True enough. Unfortunately I doubt that that is what Justine Sacco had in mind and I doubt that many people would actually stop, think and research as you have done.

        • iwadasn April 8, 2015, 8:49 am

          If you actually read the article linked to in the post, you’d see that that’s exactly what she had in mind.

          • Dee April 8, 2015, 12:18 pm

            In the article she claims she only wanted to say something witty and sarcastic. She certainly didn’t do anything to indicate she wanted her comment to be part of a further discussion on the subject, and never followed up that tweet with any explanation or dissection of the issue or of her original tweet. Sorry, but I only see a woman who took a serious issue and made a joke of it for her own pleasure. In very poor taste.

      • Ergala April 8, 2015, 9:58 am

        People also fail to realize that Africa has an extremely high rate of rape as well. The rapists very rarely use a condom and their victims are then exposed.

    • Goldie April 8, 2015, 8:39 am

      Agree that Justine Sacco’s tweet was completely unprofessional and, given that she posted it as a PR rep of her company, while on a business trip, I’m not surprised that she lost her job. If any of us posted something similar from our employer’s account or using our work email address, that too could have been grounds for termination.

      No one held a gun to her head and made her post “Just kidding, I’m white”. And I’m not buying it that any of us could be in her place. Personally you’d have to drug me senseless before I post something like this. I’m sure most of us feel the same way.

      • KenderJ April 9, 2015, 10:52 am

        Yeah, except she didn’t. According to the article she was traveling home to visit her family an she was posting on her personal account. It was some reporter looking for a story that made it into a story and got her fired. Also, if posting dumb things to a public forum is a termination offense, then all of us on this forum are guilty and should be fired.

        • Ergala April 9, 2015, 7:40 pm

          The reporter didn’t get her fired. Her comments got her fired.

    • crella April 11, 2015, 6:19 pm

      I read Sacco’s Tweet as sarcasm toward racist attitudes. She was evidently mocking such racist attitudes. She said later that she never dreamed anyone would think she actually thought that. The all-caps ‘ because I’m WHITE!’ was supposed to make it clear that it was sarcasm. Twitter is a series of accidents waiting to happen, the format is too short, you can’t make comments clear enough.

  • Charliesmum April 8, 2015, 7:01 am

    There was a British show called The IT Crowd, and they had an episode that dealt with this (and it is hilarious, I recommend watching it!) Two of the characters were caught doing something that, when taken (mostly) out of context made them look like horrible people, and it went viral. The woman tried to fix it by posting something on her ‘Chitter’ (the show’s version of Twitter) but, because you can’t convey a sarcastic tone in print, and she didn’t use any proper puncutation, it came out completely differently. She’d been accused of hating the homeless – what she wanted to say was Hate the homeless? Of course I don’t, next thing you’ll say is that I hate women, too, and that’s not true.’ what she wrote was ‘hate the homeless. And I suppose I hate women, too.’

    It’s comedy, the show, and this was played as such, but that’s the biggest problem – people THINK they’re doing one thing, and it doesn’t translate, and they don’t understand why people don’t ‘get it’.

    • Michelle C Young April 8, 2015, 8:14 pm

      “This, ladies and gentlemen, is The Internet!”

      I love that show!

  • another Laura April 8, 2015, 7:57 am

    I see several “levels” of ehell here. From coldest circle where snow has a chance and your hair has a slight brimstone aroma to hottest where you are a perpetual weenie being rotisary roasted.
    1. Inadvertant foot-in-mouth, fruedian slip, typo, misinterpretted sarcasm
    2. Speaking while ignoring your filter- you know you should say it but you really want to, so you do.
    3. Purposely saying something rude, hurtful, prejudice for the sake of a laugh.
    4. Saying something cruel with the specific intent to injure someone’s feelings or incite violence against a person or group of people. Death and rape threats fall into this category.
    of course the number of repeat offenses ups your level as well. If it was a one time misjudgement in catergories 1-3 I’ll be likely to give you a pass (I don’t think 4 often falls under misjudgement).

  • JeanLouiseFinch April 8, 2015, 8:41 am

    When I first heard about internet shaming, I admit that I agreed with it (the dog poop on the subway woman and the woman who pitched her neighbor’s cat into the garbage.) However, it has become the proverbial double-edged sword. Both the articles on shaming and the ensuing furor and debates highlights the need for every individual to take more responsibility and forethought over what they say in a public forum. I realize that many of the individuals involved did not anticipate or really deserve the dire consequences of what they said online, but if they had exercised a bit of old fashioned discretion rather than making stupid jokes/overreactions to stupid jokes/whiny complaints so completely and immediately public, then they would have saved themselves a world of trouble. One of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold, has said, “when you choose the action, you choose the consequences.” It seems to me to be sane internet advice on taking responsibility over what you say and the consequences. Unfortunately, because people seem to be taking less and less responsibility over their own actions, they get shocked when their actions result in consequences to them – sort of like eternal preteens. I don’t tweet since I don’t think my minute by minute life is interesting to anyone else. I think that if you want to spew the unfiltered garbage out of your mind on a constant basis, you should not be surprised if people think that everything you think is garbage.

  • iwadasn April 8, 2015, 8:47 am

    Well, you know what they say about casting the first stone…

    I can’t imagine what kind of unreasonable person would see a tweet like Sacco’s or Stone’s and immediately think, “This person I don’t know had a lapse in judgment. I better stalk them, threaten them, and do everything in my power to ruin their life…you know, for JUSTICE.”

    I’m guessing the people who lead these shaming crusades are the same ones who think a 5-year-old should be expelled for taking a butter knife to school. Yes, her tweet was inappropriate, but the “punishment” doled out to her by the public was even more inappropriate.

  • twik April 8, 2015, 9:18 am

    This is such a wrenching topic.

    One hates to see someone pilloried, and their life ruined because of some stupid, out-of-context comment. On the other hand, there are people who use the dubious anonymity of the internet to troll vicious, violent things, and I find it hard to be sympathetic when someone tracks them down and exposes them.

    I think one result is that people will have to make the psychological shift from “my twitter/facebook/blog is just for me and my friends” to “what I say on the internet is permanent, and can be forwarded to the entire world.” Anything you wouldn’t want to stand behind publishing in the newspaper, under your own name, should not be put on the internet under the belief that “no one will know it’s me talking trash/threatening people/revealing my inner secrets”.

  • Ergala April 8, 2015, 9:56 am

    I’m not sure if you are all aware of a men’s right movement that was started not too long ago. A man started a website that basically hates women. Especially women who. Made claims of rape. Last year he posted the image and personal info of a young woman in college in relation to a video that was released of two people having public sex. The woman in the video then went on to say she was raped. Well this man claimed he found her and posted her address, phone number, parents information, twitter info…you name it. She started receiving death threats, people were showing up at her parents home, she was getting hate mail. Here is the sad thing…..he had the wrong girl. In fact they looked nothing alike. But instead of doing damage control he went on to say she still deserved it because she is a woman and was using her as an example.

    Now I posted on that story how wrong it was what happened to her and so did a friend of mine. He took our images and comments and put them on his personal website calling us nasty names. Others commented as well and I noticed that all the male commenters were referring us women as whores. One man even commented on the fact my last name was hyphenated and that I couldn’t claim any rights because I chose to keep my father’s last name growing up. Therefore I was a hypocrite. I’m still trying to figure out what on earth he was talking about.

    Sometimes public shaming is needed, the cas of the football team members drugging that girl and then taking photos of raping her and posting them. Nothing would have come of it if them and their coaches weren’t publicly called out and shamed. They would have gotten away with it. Cnn really disappointed me at the sentencing when they kept going on how the lives of these young men were ruined…um what about the victim whom had pictures of her being violated posted on the internet and people mocking her? What about her life?

    • Michelle April 8, 2015, 12:57 pm

      +1,000. I am so tired of reporters whining about “ruining the life of the accused/convicted person” but don’t seem to get that the life of the VICTIM can be and may be ruined forever!!

    • Lerah99 April 9, 2015, 8:19 am

      What really makes me mad about the Steubenville case is that the hacker from Anonymous who made the whole scandal public was sentenced to MORE time in jail than either of the rapists.

      That’s how messed up our society is.

      Sexually assault a drunk girl at a party, take pictures of it, share the pictures via text messages with your friends – CNN is so sorry for how your life has been ruined. You had such promise ahead of you and now this youthful indiscretion has derailed your future.

      Hack the police department to make the entire incident and the police’s attempts to cover it up public – Enjoy your time in jail, criminal!

  • Library Diva April 8, 2015, 10:32 am

    I just wanted to add that I don’t think Twitter itself is to blame in Justine’s case, or in any of the rest of them. It’s a tool, just like this website, like Facebook, and like the telephone. I use it a lot for work and have come to like it, although I don’t use it personally, simply because I associate it so strongly with work that I don’t really want to spend my off-time with it. I can understand why people don’t like it, but I feel it’s a bit extreme to say “This woman had her life ruined over a Tweet, therefore I am never signing up for the platform to avoid a similar fate.”

    • another Laura April 8, 2015, 1:02 pm

      Maybe it’s a case of knowing yourself. I sometimes have a hard time expressing myself in writing. I am articulate, usually, but on occasion what I want to convey is not at all how it is received by the person I am writing to. My husband and my best friend (the two people who know me best in the world) have found things I wrote to them hurtful because I didn’t fully capture my thoughts and without hearing tone or seeing expression bare words can come across as mean or snarky when the intention was complimentary.
      I won’t have a twitter account because if I have this problem with people who know me well, what would it be like with others. And who really needs to know my random passing thoughts? If I feel compelled to share, at least on facebook, I’m not limited to 144 characters to convey my meaning.

    • Ergala April 8, 2015, 3:11 pm

      I have a rule….if I don’t want something seen I don’t post it on the internet OR send it via text. Ever. If I do and it comes back to bite me in the butt by costing me a client that is MY fault. Now this does NOT apply to revenge porn sites where angry exes submit pictures and videos of their exes up there along with their addresses and phone numbers. That is something completely different. It was sent/given in confidentiality and trust that it would NOT be seen by someone else. But if I post a very naughty picture of myself on FB or Twitter the only person I can blame is myself.

      • just4kicks April 10, 2015, 2:37 am

        @Ergala: I learned that lesson many (many!) years ago when I let my then boyfriend take a few photos of me, ummm…in lingerie.
        They were what I would consider “racy”, but not pornographic.
        When we broke up, and not wanting my parents finding the photos in the trash, I took them to work (a store in a large shopping mall), and threw them in the mall garbage can.
        Later that same day, a very nice young man who was a janitor at the mall came into my store and asked if he could talk to me privately for a minute.
        I excused myself and took a walk with him, at which point he stammered for a few seconds and then gave me my photos back I had thrown away!!!
        I turned about five shades of purple and said, “Oh my God….what?!?”
        He said he was checking garbage cans on his rounds, and in the garbage can were my pics right on top as the bag hadn’t been opened all the way.
        He said he didn’t anyone to see them, and thought he should give them back to me to dispose of properly.
        I told him (with both of us avoiding eye contact) how embarrassed I was and thanked him for sparing me further embarrassment.
        To this day I remember what a truly nice person that young man was, he could have passed them around the mall, and NEVER EVER allowed anyone to take those kinds of pictures of me.

        • Ergala April 10, 2015, 8:15 pm

          That happened to me in high school. At a sleepover three of us girls decided it would be funny (and obviously STUPID) to take pictures of ourselves in racy poses…naked. Everything was covered obviously with our arms and legs. Well I totally forgot about them until I came in one morning and everyone was circled around my best friend…laughing. They saw me and came running over laughing hysterically waving a photo…she had them developed and showed MINE to everyone in the cafeteria. She didn’t show hers, she didn’t show the other girl’s….just showed mine. I was so horrified. I ran out of there as fast as I could crying. The best part, her mother was a teacher at the school, nothing was done about it and she continued to show it to people.

          • just4kicks April 12, 2015, 4:26 am

            @Ergala: Oh, how awful! That must’ve been devastating.
            I bet that “friend’s” mother would’ve put a stop to that REAL quick if you had been the one passing photos of her daughter around school!

  • Amy April 8, 2015, 2:22 pm

    I find it hard to feel sorry for these people who get shamed on social media when they do incredibly stupid things. Particularly, the young woman who was photographed pretending to scream and flip the bird at Arlington National Cemetary. I don’t care how cute she thought it was, or that it was an inside joke between her and her friend, there are just some places that you refrain from engaging in stupid behavior out of respect for others. I am so tired of people and their obsession with selfies and stupid faces in inappropriate places. I am sorry that these people have lost jobs and that people shamed them, but they bring these things on themselves. I am reminded of the young woman who posted a big, grinning selfie taken at Auschwitz , and then got all huffy because people chided her for disrespecting such a sacred place. I think that cell phones and social media have created an entire population of self-obsessed ninnies who have no consideration for others at all.

    • schnickelfritz April 11, 2015, 2:22 pm

      This. I have zero sympathy for the girl posing at Arlington National Cemetary. At such a solemn place, what kind of heart does she have, where her mind at the time of her visit could even come up with such a disrespectful, stupid and selfish idea. I think most, if not all people visiting such a place would have heavy hearts and feel sadness at the massive visualization and evidence of lives sacrificed. How she could be so totally detached is disturbing. No empathy. Her thought process is damaged.

      And when I hear people retort “oh, like you never made a mistake?” – there are “mistakes” and there are horrific actions – this falls in the latter.

      • admin April 11, 2015, 11:52 pm

        When my father-in-law was interred at Arlington, there were 80 soldiers and a 6 horse caisson attending his burial. It was quite impressive. From the time we congregated in the admin building to the end, the staff and soldiers were respectful, solemn and dignified. I don’t think visitors to Arlington realize that there are burial services happening all the time, rain or shine.

      • Tracy W April 13, 2015, 4:16 am

        Horrific actions can also be mistakes.

  • sunnydi84 April 9, 2015, 12:19 am

    While I don’t agree with what Sacco said, it was posted on her private Twitter page, not her company’s page. It doesn’t appear she was posting as Justine Sacco – IAC PR rep. She was posting as herself on a personal Twitter feed. I think as a society we’ve gone overboard on the being offended scale. It seems like someone is always offended about something. It makes me sick what happened to all those people in the article. And the woman who overheard a private conversation and was ‘offended’? Seriously? Get over yourself, woman! I could see if they turned to her and made some nasty comment, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m glad she too was fired. It seemed like she caused the situation in the first place with her taking offense at something that wasn’t meant for her ears. That being said, people need to shut down their privacy settings!! It’s not 100% safe, but it’s much better than having a completely public page. My son had a friend with a public Twitter and he threatened to blow up the high school. Someone found it and reported it to the school and he was suspended. If his Twitter had been private, no one but his friends could have seen the tweet and he may never have been suspended. People make stupid mistakes. The point is, in most instances other people need to stop being so darn offended! And the people posting need to make their pages private. That would solve a lot of these issues. Just my 2 cents.

    • Kategillian April 9, 2015, 9:30 am

      Because we should ignore people threatening to blow up their school? Because things like that never happen. What’s wrong with holding people accountable for their actions? I absolutely agree that no one should have death threats, or rape threats or any threats made against them or their parents or their workplaces because of these things, but I have no problem holding THEM accountable. Do people really need to be told that they shouldn’t flip off the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Or that they can never get AIDS because they’re white? In the age before social media people could say these things or do these things without fear of consequences because it was a they said / they said situation. but now, people will be held accountable

      • iwadasn April 11, 2015, 2:59 pm

        The point is, you can’t confront EVERY single person whose opinions or beliefs differ from yours. You have to pick your battles, and waging a Twitter war with everyone you happen to overhear in an auditorium is ridiculous.

  • Angel April 9, 2015, 1:05 pm

    Anything posted on the Internet can eventually come back to bite you in the butt. I would not condone the public shaming as two wrongs don’t make a right. But why would anyone be surprised about this? You post something negative or stupid hoping to get a reaction, right? I mean that’s the bottom line. If it’s a bad reaction or shaming–I’m not sure why this is such a shock. It is human nature to judge others–so why put it out there and make it that much easier for people to judge? People who post stupid stuff on the Internet just don’t think before they hit post. I don’t know if I feel sorry for people like this.

  • bt April 9, 2015, 1:12 pm

    It’s also sad how many of these “public shamings” are based on a misunderstanding of a TOTALLY INNOCENT comment also, and carry on anyway even after the initial comment is explained to them. I.e., the sports guy who got in hot water over some comment about a “chink in the armor” – a lot of people jumped on him, even though that word has been used for over a CENTURY to mean a gap, weakness, etc. I learned about it from Little House on the Prairie or something similar, when they talked about using clay to fill the chinks in the fireplace or the chinks between logs in the cabin. Growing up I frequently heard the term “chink in the armor” used synonymously with “weak spot” or “Achilles’ heel.” I had no idea the word could also be used a racist term, until that news story broke. Or, closer to home, I was once discussing some fruit we had just bought with my mom, and after tasting 2 different types of nectarines, said “the white-flesh ones are way better,” (there are regular yellow nectarines, and white-flesh nectarines, and the yellow ones we got that day happened to be mealy and gross) only to have my sister (who KNEW we were talking about fruits) screech “That’s RACIST!”

    • Lerah99 April 10, 2015, 8:11 am

      You should know that it is practically a meme to say “That’s Racist” over things that obviously aren’t.

      For example:
      In the MMORPG World of Warcraft that is a dungeon called “Blackrock Mountain”.
      On occasion in trade chat people will post things like “Anyone want to take a run through Blackrock?”
      And invariably someone else will post “Why does it always have to be Blackrock? That’s racist!”

      It’s a very hipster type of joke.
      Person 1: “I like white wine.”
      Hipster response” “That’s racist!”

      Person 1: “I love yellow roses”
      Hipster response: “That’s racist!”

      Person 1: “I hate black licorices”
      Hipster response “That’s racist!”

      Basically if you involves the colors white, black, yellow, or red and a preference – they will pop in with a “That’s racist” response.

    • Library Diva April 13, 2015, 10:53 am

      This very thing happened on this site. Someone wrote in to say that she had seen on Facebook a post from a man whose wife had just had a baby. It detailed very specific requests for their “meal train,” stating that they’d prefer local fresh foods, and ending with a line about “it better be good or I’ll cook and eat you!” The commenters here pilloried the guy (me included, I think). Then he popped up in the thread to explain. He’d made that post in a local foods group he was part of, at the request of several people who were trying to organize a meal train but had received a lot of questions about what time people should come, what sorts of things the household liked to eat, if there were any allergies or any requests, etc.The last line was simply a joke among friends. Suddenly, he looked like less of a jerk, and the person who copy-pasted something she’d found on a friend of a friend’s wall and sent it in for the internet to mock looked like more of a jerk.

  • Tracy W April 10, 2015, 9:01 am

    I’ve been thinking about this, and the various people who have commented that people in certain jobs shouldn’t make mistakes like that, and if they do, they deserve to lose their jobs. But, people make mistakes all the time. Think of Usain Bolt, who failed to defend his world title because he made a false start in the final and got disqualified. Simple situation, no way Usain Bolt could have thought he might have been able to get away with a false start, judging by interviews he’s a reasonably smart guy, and yet he stuffed up once out of all the races he’s run. People do this all the time. How many of us can say we never made a mistake at work?

  • Elsie April 10, 2015, 11:54 pm

    I do feel sorry that woman (in the article) got hit so hard I guess.

    But on the other hand… Ew. What a gross comment to make.

    I think she deserves some degree of privacy (even “high rank” businessy people deserve personal online spaces) but she put that up intentionally-publicly (not just privately to her friends or something) and (from what I can infer) is an important PR person. She had to know it was a bad idea, right?

  • Enna April 14, 2015, 1:03 pm

    It depends how far the public shaming/shunning goes. People losing their jobs over one silly tweet to me is unfair especially when members of the public make ones just as bad if not worse. Do those posters get the sack? No. Some things are taken out of proportion. I don’t like the company website who were hacked/attacked and were told to sack the woman in order for the attacks to stop. The people who did this would not like being on the receiving end of it themselves!

    What you post can come and bite you on the bottom but it depends on the situation. Employers or posters saying “don’t post something so daft as that again” is one thing but to go as far as to give threats or say someone should be sacked is another. Unless the post was something so stupid and offensive the poster should not be dismissed. There was one case in the UK where a prison warden added some prisoners on Facebook and he got the sack as it was deemed inappropriate which is fair enough.

    Another story was about a woman who put a cat in a wheelie bin and it was caught on CCTV. She was brought in front of the court about it and punished but then needed a new identity or something because she received death threats. Those people who mad the threats cost the UK tax payer a lot more in the justice system the original offence did.

  • Jasmine June 5, 2015, 12:16 pm

    People – Don’t. Tweet. Ever. Just don’t do it.