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The Growing Problem of 'Fame-Shaming' on Social Media

I can't deny that the age of social media has brought along with it many positive advancements in both society and technology, but not every element of it is quite so black and white. Social media has also brought its fair share of controversy, blurring lines between the acceptable and the unsavoury. One such trend, in my opinion, is the practice of 'fame-shaming'.

DailyBeast
Fame-shaming is a form of online activism that consists of publicly outing supposed wrong-doers online by posting photographic or written 'evidence' of their activities for all the world to see. There have been countless well-publicised examples of this recently, from cases of animal cruelty to the debate on breast-feeding in public. These two examples perfectly highlight the crucial distinction here, in that fame-shaming, while sometimes successful as with the former, often misses the mark or targets the wrong people, such as in the latter case.

Just this morning, while flicking through Facebook, I came across an act of fame-shaming regarding a woman who had cut in line while waiting for parking spaces at an A&E department, resulting in a sick child with a suspected case of Meningitis being delayed in seeing a doctor. The child got the all clear, but the disgruntled mother quickly took to social media to out the inconsiderate party to anyone willing to listen. In this case, I am inclined to agree that the woman in question behaved wrongly, but as these stories go viral the backlash is often far more severe than the initial act. Some behaviour is horrible enough to deserve ample retribution, but social media has a way of blowing things out of proportion and the online behaviour of those commenting often becomes worse than the event they are speaking out against.

Another problem is that social media provides, by its very nature, a highly condensed version of events. One person's account rarely captures the full story, and this can result in a lot of hate and abuse being directed at undeserving people. There have been a few cases over the last year whereby someone has taken to Twitter to lambaste a certain individual, only to be outed themselves for lying about or exaggerating the events in question. Unfortunately, by the time this information comes to light the wrongly accused has already suffered an outpour of horrible sentiments and, all too often, threats of violence.

So while social media can be a very effective force for good, holding people accountable for their actions in both the physical and online world, I would urge caution before going on a vitriolic Twitter rant. You may unwittingly victimise the wrong person, be found guilty of defamation or open yourself up to the darker side of social media.



Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF


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The Growing Problem of 'Fame-Shaming' on Social Media Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Thursday, December 17, 2015 Rating: 5

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