In society today, we live in a disconnected world, where users feel they are untouchable and free from consequence. Whether they are endangering others, issuing threats or even physically hurting themselves for the world to watch, they are detrimental to society. This happened quite frequently when I worked as a Social Media Analyst at Regions Bank. There were threats of “blowing up a branch” on Twitter because of overdraft fees almost weekly. Oftentimes, the account would have a generic image and would be hard to track down. At what cost should we continue letting someone hide behind a mask, even if the person is detrimental to themselves or others?
Take the recent murders and suicides on FB Live for example. Could reporting someone have prevented these occurrences? Certainly, in these cases, it was not in social media users' best interests not to report it. Author Danah Boyd explores this idea. Boyd states, “Yet, how do we as a society weigh the moral costs of shining a spotlight on someone, however "bad" their actions are?” (Boyd, Danah. 2012. Truth, Lies, and ‘Doxxing’: The Real Moral of the Gawker/Reddit Story. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2012/10/truth-lies-doxxing-internet-vigilanteism/).
There are also those like Damon Poeter that believe, “legislative attempts to somehow ban Internet anonymity are misguided at best and in some cases, outright assaults on free and open political discourse” (Poeter, Damon. Shed No Tears for Violentacrez. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2411001,00.asp).
Social media can be a useful tool to share and broadcast services, businesses, people or a brand. The concept was created around sharing, therefore limiting the amount of privacy one can have, especially if they are posting acts of questionable or illegal activity. Wouldn't a person owe it to society to report something they see a follower posting about murdering someone? Wouldn't you want to know if someone was threatening harm to you or exploiting your daughter/son on the Internet?
There are several examples of how not reporting someone engaging in potentially harmful behavior has ended detrimentally. The most vile example we can look to is Dylan Roof. Through a manifesto online and social media posts, he proclaimed his hate to the world and no one took it serious. As a result, eight people died. When the safety of someone is compromised due to the actions of users, the person’s boss and the public deserve to know.
Boyd, Danah. 2012. Truth, Lies, and ‘Doxxing’: The Real Moral of the Gawker/Reddit Story. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2012/10/truth-lies-doxxing-internet-vigilanteism/
Poeter, Damon. Shed No Tears for Violentacrez. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2411001,00.asp
Chen, Adrian. Unmasking Reddit's Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web. 2012. Retrieved from http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web?discussion_truncation=5&utm_expid=66866090-56.xSggy8zmSwG3vMsivr7rOg.2